iPhone

How to replace a broken screen on your iPhone

Cracking your iPhone's front glass or the display might 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 iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.

Crack the front panel on your iPhone and you have three choices--live with it, buy a new one, or get it fixed.

If you have an AppleCare+ or other warranty that covers accidental damage, the choice is easy. Get your phone fixed or replaced under the warranty. If your iPhone 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 entire display assembly.

Should you try this fix?

Before you jump into this DIY project, I suggest you watch my video on what to know before trying to fix a smartphone or tablet. It will help you decide if you should repair the phone yourself or take it to a shop.

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

Once you decide to tackle this fix, you'll need to get the necessary replacement parts and tools. As the iPhone's front panel and LCD are fused together, I suggest buying both as a single unit. You'll find them for between $70 and $120 dollars online. Just be sure that you buy the right one for your phone.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

As for tools, you'll need a few thin metal blades, a plastic spudger or case opening tool, tweezers, Phillips #000 screwdriver, a tiny flathead screwdriver,and a special pentalobe screwdriver, which you'll use to remove the phone's tamper-resistant, outer case screws. Again, you can pick these up online if you don't have them.

Also, I'll be replacing the panel on an AT&T iPhone 4, but you can use same basic steps on iPhone 4s from other carriers and the iPhone 4S. You may encounter differences however, such as the location and type of vibration motor and the position of the motherboard screws.

1. Backup your data

The first step is to backup all the iPhone's data using iCloud or iTunes, just in case something goes wrong. You'll also need to eject the SIM card using the eject tool or a paperclip.

2. Remove the back cover

With those tasks complete, you can open the iPhone by removing the two screws located along the bottom edge. As noted above, you'll need a special pentalobe screwdriver for this task.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

Then, slide the back cover upwards and lift it off.

Credit: Bill Detwiler/CNET

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
macylajos
macylajos

Thanks for posting. you had shown good example for screen replacement here.

mpickeri
mpickeri

My son decided to keep his cracked screen on his iPod Touch. He decided it was a good anti-theft device :-)

Gisabun
Gisabun

Something from Apple breaks? Who would of thought. You pay by the left nostral for the phone and plan and then when it breaks, you pay by the right nostral.

MORZ
MORZ

$180.00? if yer in Seattle or Chicago - JCDRepair $85

doctordawg
doctordawg

It only cost me $135 to replace the windshield on my truck! Someone is getting screwed.

kittean
kittean

I will admit .. I have dropped my phone ... Onto a cement floor ... At a fundraising event. The pure definition of an accident.... And went to a cell phone repair place in my local mall. It cost me (parts and labor included) $180. It was amazing how quick it was to replace. I asked him how many of these they do...his response was that repairing iPhones and the itouch was now the majority if Their business. Looking around while I waited for my "appt" I saw all the cute cases... He told me forget cute and go otter box ...no worries now

iTrucker
iTrucker

I see more and more people with a broken front glass today !! What do you do with your phones ? Throw the phone after people that you don??t like ? Can??t you live without your phone when you take a bath ? Why do you drop your phone two days after you bought the phone ?

kferraro
kferraro

Yes , this is doable but I can finish after about step two, thank goodness. I was happily surprised at the availability of aftermarket products for iPhone repair and I'll keep these directions around for when I need to replace the battery. Thanks, Bill

Gisabun
Gisabun

Maybe cheaper on eBay? :-)

Gisabun
Gisabun

Time to change professions. :-)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

I really have no idea why this happens but with the amount of Parts being sold on places like E Bay and the number of How to's Video's on You Tube it must be a very common occurrence. I have 2 iPhones here which look as if they flew off a Cars Dash out a window and both still work. Is it any wonder that their owners want them fixed? Col

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