iPad

How to replace a broken front panel on your iPad 2 or iPad 3

Breaking the glass on your iPad may not stop it from working, but can make it difficult and unsafe to use. Here's a step-by-step guide to fixing a broken front panel on your iPad 2 or iPad 3.

If you crack the front panel on your iPad, you can either live with it, buy a new one, or fix it.

For those with an AppleCare+ or other warranty that covers accidental damage, the choice is obvious. Get the unit fixed or replaced. If your iPad isn't under warranty, you don't want to buy a new one, and you're ready to tackle a challenging, but satisfying do-it-yourself fix, here's a guide for replacing the front panel.

This article was originally published on CNET's How To blog.

Before you tackle this fix

Before you tackle this fix, I encourage you to watch my video on what to know before trying to fix a smartphone or tablet. It will help you decide if you should tackle the repair yourself or take your iPad to a shop.

And lastly, understand that by following the instructions in this video, you do so at your own risk. Neither CNET nor any of its representatives can be held responsible for injury, damage, or loss of data.

Getting replacement parts and tools

Before you begin, you'll need to get the necessary replacement parts and tools. For this fix, we're just replacing the front panel--not the LCD. We'll be reusing the Home button and camera bracket from the old panel, as they aren't damaged.

You can buy replacement panels online for between $50 and $150 dollars. Just be sure that you buy the right one for your iPad. And depending on where you buy the panel, it may come with pre-cut adhesive strips. If it doesn't, you'll need to buy them or cut your own strips from double-sided tape.

As for tools, you'll need a hair dryer or heat gun, a few thin metal blades, several plastic spudgers, guitar picks, or plastic case opening tools, and a Phillips #00 screwdriver. Again, you can pick these up online if you don't have them.

Lastly, I'm using an iPad 2 as the guinea pig in this article. But, the same basic steps can also be used to replace the front panel on the iPad 3.

1. Backup your data

Just in case anything goes wrong during the fix, you should backup all the iPad's data using iCloud or iTunes.

2. Remove the broken panel

With your data safe, heat the panel's edges with the hair dryer or heat gun. This loosens the adhesive that holds the panel to the iPad's metal case. Heat a small area until you can easily insert a thin tool between the panel and case. Gently pry them apart. If the panel doesn't easily come away from the case, keep heating the area. Also, take care not to insert the tool too far into the iPad as this can damage the LCD and other internal components.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Once you've created a small gap in one area, work your way around the edge--heating and prying as you go. You'll need to leave placeholders (like a plastic spudger or guitar pick) in the separated sections, to prevent the panel and case from sticking back together.

You'll also need to be very careful when working to right of the Home button. The Wi-Fi antenna is attached to the panel here, and you'll need to gently pry it loose without damaging it.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Take care around the panel's bottom left corner. The panel's digitizer cable located here and you don't want to damage any other internal components by carelessly yanking it loose.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

11 comments
rick@Hogans-Systems.com
rick@Hogans-Systems.com

I recently replaced an iPad glass. Overall, it went pretty smoothly. However, now the iPad has trouble connecting to the AT&T 3G service. WiFi works perfectly, but 3G service always shows a very weak signal, and then says it is unable to connect. I'm guessing I must've somehow damaged something affecting the 3G antenna, which is separate from the WiFi antenna, but I can't see what is wrong. Any thoughts or suggestions? Rick

angloruss
angloruss

I am curious, was the iPad damaged intentionally, just for the sake of this video?

Regulus
Regulus

Bill, I realize that your editor does this to you, but I really, really, really need a "View-as-one-Page" option on this and similar articles. Regardless, keep up the good work!

randysmith
randysmith

Phil, most here ARE professionals, and some might even be competent! Having instructions from Bill is a great help to those that want to try their own repairs. I replaced a phone screen a couple years ago after one of my kids dropped the device, and while tedious, was certainly gratifying when the device continued to work until obsolete. Kudos to Bill for publishing this!

phil_swift
phil_swift

Hi, this should not of been posted as..... 1. There are health and safety issues here, the shards of glass can be miniscule and almost invisible ones can enter the eye from a finger or elsewhere. 2. If you leave just one minute piece of glass in the seating area of the new glass, when you press down the glass can easily break. 3. The heat gun method is also a health and safety issue and plastic and metal components can reach very high temperatures and hold the heat. 4. Ribbon cables are very easily damaged and need great care. If you damage one you will probably make the repair not cost-effective. Phil at Tecorum Ltd

pauls71
pauls71

Will this same procedure work with the first version of the iPad?

Bill Detwiler
Bill Detwiler

Just don't rush the removal process or pry too hard. If you insert your prying tool (metal blade, plastic tool, etc.) too far into the iPad or push too hard down against one of the internal components you can break them. If you go slowly, properly heat the glue, and don't apply too much pressure, you should be ok. Just don't rush it.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

It's extremely easy to damage the connectors where the Ribbon Cables join the M'Board. The push on Connectors are not much of an issue but the Push In & Lock Connector is extremely easy to damage. I've even seen a case where no pressure was applied to that Particular Cable but the connector that it goes into was broken even though the pins in it where not bent and the socket was still locked. That particular phone still worked when reassembled after replacing the broken Front Glass, Digitizer and LED Screen but it worried the hell out of me reassembling it. Personally I believe that the connector was broken before the phone flew out of a car window onto the road as the screen or digitized had most defiantly not moved and it was more of a problem to separate than usual. ;) Sorry but as I've never dismantled a iPad I'm not sure just how fragile that the connection in it are. Col

sipeki
sipeki

How careful do you have to be when removing the screen not to damage the attached components? In other words how easy it to damage the mentioned components.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

Figure out where the antenna is and then open up the unit again. Then you can see where the damage was done and decide if you need to repair or replace the antenna.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Much more likely that it was dropped or otherwise damaged by accident. Way too many of these devices get broken like this and it's far too easy to do it as well. Col