Shattered iPhone screen: What would you do?

Shattered iPhone screen: What would you do?

Summary: My wife brought home a shattered iPhone 4. First, how did it break? Second, what do we do now?

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TOPICS: iPhone
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The other day I was at work and all of the sudden I got a text from my wife that her iPhone had "cracked". My wife has been known to tell people that I love gadgets as much as I love her, so when she texted me that her iPhone had fallen and "cracked", my heart skipped a beat.

I've definitely battled a cracked iPhone in the past. In fact, it was her iPhone 3G that my son (very young then) had thrown out of the car window. Thankfully, the car wasn't moving at the time, but still, the iPhone 3G screen was demolished.

I couldn't imagine what "cracked" meant, especially since she has an Otterbox Commuter Series Strength Case. Well, look at the picture below and see what I was presented with.

Not only did she shatter the screen, but over the course of her owning the Otterbox case, she managed to make it completely useless, by breaking almost every piece of it. See below for a picture of what it's supposed to look like.

I then asked her how it had happened. She mentioned that it had barely fallen. Again, I was surprised to see such damage, with the screen protector ON. A closer inspection revealed that the protective screen was NOT ON. When I inquired, she mentioned that she thought I had left it on by accident, so she removed it last week.

Presented with the above, I had a couple of choices:

  • Upgrade her to a 4S
  • Pay for a screen replacement of her iPhone 4

Since the next version of the iPhone could be announced as soon as next month, I didn't feel like extending her contract and using my subsidized iPhone credit just yet. So, I figured maybe I could attach a screen protector, to keep her face from getting hurt, and to keep the iPhone from losing more glass, while I think about it more.

I purchased the Zagg Invisible Shield Dry and then adhered it to her iPhone 4. To my surprise, it actually started pulling up pieces of her iPhone's glass screen. I then had to remove it, remove some glass pieces, and then adhere it again. Unfortunately, this now created a smudge in the upper left.

Needless to say, after some smoothing, the iPhone 4 is safe to use again. Now I have to decide what to do next, since my band-aid will only last so long.

In summary: lesson learned. Once I upgrade her to the 4S, or get a replacement screen, the first purchase I'll be making is the indestructible Defender Series.

I'm pretty lucky with my 4S, since I use the mophie juice pack air on it, and haven't had any screen issues. This experience has me thinking of purchasing a screen protector too, though.

If faced with a broken iPhone 4 screen, this close to a new iPhone coming, what would you do?

Topic: iPhone

Joel Evans

About Joel Evans

With more than 15 years of mobile, Internet and wireless experience, Joel specializes in taking existing brands and technologies into the mobile and wireless space. Joel is currently the VP of Strategy Integration for Mobiquity, an enterprise-class mobile solutions provider.

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84 comments
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  • Easy fix

    Just buy a replacement screen and fix it yourself. Its what I did when I broke my iPhone 4's screen. It's a bit difficult to try and keep all the screws organized (there are 26 you remove to get to the screen) but its really not too difficult. Just a quick look and I saw the iPhone 4 LCD+Digitizer combos (you have to get a combo, you can't just replace the digitizer) for about $25, so much cheaper than replacing the whole phone.
    45yoyos
    • 26 Screws?

      No wonder it can't be made in the US. I doubt if anyone in this country has the necessary manufacturing skills to be able to insert and tighten down this many. Most people are lucky if they can handle 5 or 6.
      johnnylumber
      • Well, I suppose if you only haul lumber you might think that.

        Most factory workers in the United States are more than capable of assembling small parts with 26 screws with their eyes closed. Even you could be trained to do it and make the company a profit.
        dubtek
    • I can't believe people...

      ... still want a 4S after breaking the screen on their ip4.
      You still want to pay a premium for a phone designed with form-over-function and then cover it up with an expensive otterbox case thus negating the form Apple intended in the first place.
      If Apple insists on designing phones to break, then it's time to consider alternatives. Replacing it with the same sh17 is just patting Apple on the back and telling them 'yeh great design buddy, here! have more of my cash".
      Do the smart thing, exit Apple world and discover that bluetooth file transfer JUST WORKS everywhere else and you don't need itunes to turn an mp3 you have on your iphone into a ringtone. You will be able to download mp3 and videos from ANYWHERE and you won't need apps that are website replacements because Safari is crippled. You will also be able to run a proper wireless hotspot to tether multiple devices. You will be able to slot a cheap 32gb SD card into your phone instead of paying a huge premium with Apple. You will be able to use alternative keyboards like Swype or even run an app that turns your phone into a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for your PS3. You can also forget about juicepacks, now you can carry a SPARE battery and charge it externally and swap it and go without ever waiting for your phone to charge.
      Lastly, you can have a useful screen larger than 3.5" where the glass edge isn't exposed so that it cracks when dropped, nor will it have glass on the back so that your chance of cracking glass is doubled.
      You will be blissfully unaware of these possibilities while stuck in Apple world.
      warboat
      • Because you guys in the industry

        STILL haven't figured out why Apple became so enormously successful with their iPhone. I suspect you'll continue scratching your heads... :)
        Mikael_z
      • Apple's success

        is all to do with brand image and marketing.
        I recently had a conversation with a relative that lost a phone and was looking to buy a new phone. I recommended her Samsung phones, particularly the Galaxy S2. She said she can't have a Samsung and she definitely wants an iPhone. I asked her why, and she just said it's the phone to have and everyone has one so it must be the best. She has never used or know anything about the iPhone.

        Samsung: we make whatever you want
        Apple: you want whatever we make
        warboat
      • Proof

        @warboat
        The idea that you think your little anecdote proves anything makes it quite clear the level of intellect behind your opining.
        And FTR, most of what you wrote is garbage. To wit:
        "You still want to pay a premium for a phone designed with form-over-function"
        Bull. Give one example of such design aesthetics. Apple's desigh philosophy is totally geared around function. Just because you don't share their same functional priorities does not mean this is not so. But go ahead an post examples of your claim. (Please bring up the antenna, so we can see your total ignorance of reality, and wave physics.)
        "and you don't need itunes to turn an mp3 you have on your iphone into a ringtone."
        Yeah, you don't need iTunes on the iPhone, either. You'd know that if you had actually bothered to do even ten seconds of research. But then again, so what if you had to use iTunes?
        "you won't need apps that are website replacements because Safari is crippled"
        And if you don't like Safari, you can just use an an alternate browser. But in what way is Safari crippled? Please say Flash so I can laugh at you. First, Flash is used on very few sites any more, and fewer and fewer by the day. This is especially so for mobile devices, cause guess what: Adobe has canned mobile Flash, and is not really committed to the any further significant desktop Flash development either.
        "You will also be able to run a proper wireless hotspot to tether multiple devices."
        As opposed to the iPhone which does tethering just fine. If you have a carrier which blocks tethering, they will do so whether you have an iPhone, a Galaxy, or ANY other phone.
        "even run an app that turns your phone into a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for your PS3."
        Why limit yourself to just the PS3? There are apps for the iPhone that can be used with ANY computer.
        "now you can carry a SPARE battery and charge it externally"
        Yeah, almost no one does that. A better alternative would be to use the extra space freed up by not having a removable battery to provide a few extra hours of run time. Oh wait, the iPhone already does that.

        "Lastly, you can have a useful screen larger than 3.5" where the glass edge isn't exposed so that it cracks when dropped, nor will it have glass on the back so that your chance of cracking glass is doubled."
        3.5" isn't useful? Since when? Alternately you could get any of a number of Android models with edge to edge glass, just like the iPhone.
        "You will be blissfully unaware of these possibilities while stuck in Apple world."
        Blissfully unaware of these possibilities?!? Guy, you are spitefully unaware of just about everything.
        .DeusExMachina.
      • Missing the point....again

        @deusexmachina
        [quote]
        "and you don't need itunes to turn an mp3 you have on your iphone into a ringtone."
        Yeah, you don't need iTunes on the iPhone, either. You'd know that if you had actually bothered to do even ten seconds of research. But then again, so what if you had to use iTunes?[/quote]
        Firstly, it would be great if you could stick to the point instead of needlessly and irrelevantly pointing out the iphone doesn't need itunes.
        Apple intentionally removed the ringtone conversion feature from itunes. Needless to say, Apple provided no easy way to do it on the phone itself. The gall of Apple to ask you to pay additionally for a ringtone when it's already in your phone. With any other phone, it's a simple couple of taps to use any music as a ringtone or alarm. Of course, there is now a category of ringtone conversion apps which should never have existed. At least it contributes to app count brags. With Apple, it doesn't JUST WORK. To defend this situation requires you being an enormous Apple Apologist.
        [quote]
        "you won't need apps that are website replacements because Safari is crippled"
        And if you don't like Safari, you can just use an an alternate browser. But in what way is Safari crippled? Please say Flash so I can laugh at you. First, Flash is used on very few sites any more, and fewer and fewer by the day. This is especially so for mobile devices, cause guess what: Adobe has canned mobile Flash, and is not really committed to the any further significant desktop Flash development either.
        [/quote]
        Firstly, Adobe hasn't canned flash. Additionally they are still developing Adobe Air for mobile. Flash is alive and well despite your misinformed rants.
        Secondly, Safari is not only missing flash but proper java support. A lot of javascripts either won't work or will crash Safari and Java plug-ins simply won't run. You can run alternative browsers but content providers are not relying on this happening. This situation has proliferated mobile apps to replace websites. We now have a mountain of redundant apps that need updating often simply because Safari is lame. At least it adds to app count brags. Trying to defend iOS Safari is futile.
        [quote]
        "You will also be able to run a proper wireless hotspot to tether multiple devices."
        As opposed to the iPhone which does tethering just fine. If you have a carrier which blocks tethering, they will do so whether you have an iPhone, a Galaxy, or ANY other phone.[/quote]
        LOL, the number one complaint of iphone users after the last iOS update was that their wireless tethering disappeared from the menu. After resetting the wireless config and losing all stored settings, when you do get it to work, it is only limited to ONE connection. Nobody outside the USA cares for the fact that US carriers are anti-tethering. The rest of the world is tethering multiple devices without iphones.
        [quote]
        "even run an app that turns your phone into a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for your PS3."
        Why limit yourself to just the PS3? There are apps for the iPhone that can be used with ANY computer.[/quote]
        Shows your bias and ignorance when you don't realise that being a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for a PS3 is much harder than being a networked client/server style keyboard/remote control app for a PC which has been done since the windows mobile days. The PS3 doesn't let you install some keyboard driver software like a PC so you can only be a PS3 keyboard if you can emulate a bluetooth keyboard. This also holds true for iOS devices. Apple has crippled the bluetooth profiles and there is no way you can use it as a bluetooth keyboard for a PS3 or any device which accepts bluetooth input. An Android can be a bluetooth keyboard for an iOS device, the reverse won't happen. You can't even use bluetooth to send/receive a file in iOS let alone device emulation. iOS Bluetooth, it doesn't JUST WORK.
        [quote]
        "now you can carry a SPARE battery and charge it externally"
        Yeah, almost no one does that. A better alternative would be to use the extra space freed up by not having a removable battery to provide a few extra hours of run time. Oh wait, the iPhone already does that.[/quote]
        The blogger states that he uses a juicepack on his iphone. Clearly it indicates the iphone's non-removeable battery system is inadequate and that a removable battery would offer him a solution better than what he has right now. I'm pretty sure he is not the only iphone user that would benefit from removable batteries. Every iphone user has experienced the inconvenience of having to WAIT for their phone to charge. Removable battery gives you that added flexibility.

        I don't think I need to go on, you are just an enormous Apple shill that cannot fathom Apple being criticised. Your comebacks are irrelevant at best, bordering on idiotic.
        warboat
      • Poor poor warboat

        I have some much sympathy for people like you. People with so little in their life that they have to focus their time on hating something or someone (in your case obviously Apple) that has never and will never do anything to you. Your small little mind can not grasp the idea that other people might have different wants or needs than you. That they might prefer something that you don't just must keep you up at night. Life would be so much better if you would just leave Grandma's basement for once and see the outside world. There are people out there with differing opinions and guess what, they can get alone, have polite discussions and don't have to spread FUD or flat out lie all the time to make themselves feel better. You might want to try it someday.

        Edit: Just got to your post about your "friend". First, what is the likelihood that you have a friend in the first place? Second, phone how "she" says the perfect phrase to back up your point. There are some people out there almost as shallow as you that have to buy what they perceive everyone else is simply to fit in but I bet that conversation never happened with you. Third, you recommend the S2 when more than likely she would end up getting the S3 since it's the lasted and tests show the screen is more likely to break on it than the iPhone 4/4S. Last and most important is marketing only gets you so far. What people like you don't realize is that the success of the iPhone is due to customer's being so happy with their iPhone that they tell other people who then buy an iPhone, are very happy with it and tell other people. The "marketing" talking point of the Apple hater crowd has no basis in reality.
        non-biased
      • You have no point

        @ warboat

        "Firstly, it would be great if you could stick to the point instead of needlessly and irrelevantly pointing out the iphone doesn't need itunes."

        And it would be nice if you would at least try to not be a hypocrite. It is YOU who brought up iTunes, not me. As such, it was hardly irrelevant to point out that, yet again, you are wrong on this issue.

        "Apple intentionally removed the ringtone conversion feature from itunes. Needless to say, Apple provided no easy way to do it on the phone itself."

        First, you most certainly CAN create ringtone with iTunes. This includes iTunes 10+. You wanna bet otherwise? Be prepared to be schooled on your ignoorance. Second, why is it up to Apple to recreate what many others have already done in third party apps? Claiming Apple should provide it is just plain silly.

        "The gall of Apple to ask you to pay additionally for a ringtone when it's already in your phone."

        They don't.

        With any other phone, it's a simple couple of taps to use any music as a ringtone or alarm. Of course, there is now a category of ringtone conversion apps which should never have existed. At least it contributes to app count brags. With Apple, it doesn't JUST WORK. To defend this situation requires you being an enormous Apple Apologist."

        Newsflash:
        The same apps exist for Android. So this "criticism" is hardly iOS specific.

        "Firstly, Adobe hasn't canned flash. Additionally they are still developing Adobe Air for mobile. Flash is alive and well despite your misinformed rants."

        Yes, they have.
        http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/09/tech/mobile/adobe-mobile-flash-wired/index.html

        "Secondly, Safari is not only missing flash but proper java support. A lot of javascripts either won't work or will crash Safari and Java plug-ins simply won't run."

        Bull. The vast majority of websites have NO problem whatsoever in running their Flash code, no matter how much you cherry pick your sites.

        "You can run alternative browsers but content providers are not relying on this happening."

        So? What difference does it make to content providers which browser you are running?

        "This situation has proliferated mobile apps to replace websites. We now have a mountain of redundant apps that need updating often simply because Safari is lame. At least it adds to app count brags. Trying to defend iOS Safari is futile."

        Again, this is simply baloney. If there is such a mountain, you will have no problem making a list.
        But that is beside the point. If you feel an alternate browser foots the bill, then install it and be done, No more apps needed. More to the point, NONE of the criticisms you weigh against Safari can equally well apply to Chrome.

        "The rest of the world is tethering multiple devices without iphones.

        They are also doing it just fine WITH iPhones.

        "even run an app that turns your phone into a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for your PS3."
        Why limit yourself to just the PS3? There are apps for the iPhone that can be used with ANY computer.


        "Shows your bias and ignorance when you don't realise that being a bluetooth keyboard and mouse for a PS3 is much harder than being a networked client/server style keyboard/remote control app for a PC which has been done since the windows mobile days... Apple has crippled the bluetooth profiles and there is no way you can use it as a bluetooth keyboard for a PS3 or any device which accepts bluetooth input."

        You really should just quit before you make that miuch more of a fool of yourself.

        Webe++.

        iPhone app to make iOS device into PS# keyboard and D-Pad.
        Misinformed much?

        "The blogger states that he uses a juicepack on his iphone. Clearly it indicates the iphone's non-removeable battery system is inadequate and that a removable battery would offer him a solution better than what he has right now."

        This in NO way indicates that a removable battery would be a better solution. Logic fail.

        "I'm pretty sure he is not the only iphone user that would benefit from removable batteries. Every iphone user has experienced the inconvenience of having to WAIT for their phone to charge. Removable battery gives you that added flexibility."

        Yes, and non-removable batteries provide you with significant extra charge time, making swapping batteries much less necessary. It is a trade off. Claiming there is one right answer is absurd.

        "Your comebacks are irrelevant at best, bordering on idiotic."

        You comebacks are just wrong.
        .DeusExMachina.
    • iphone4

      hi my name is stephanie i had just droped my i phone4 not even 6 inches off the ground and the whole screen shattered! i was so pissed cause i cannot replace anymore phones under warrenty for another year, so i was wondering how you went about fixing yours
      finnielynn
    • replacement screen

      hi 45yoyos. where did you find the $25 replacement screen?
      techBabe
  • I would do the logical thing

    Upgrade to an Android with a slide-out keyboard and big screen, and ditch the quaint old iPhone.
    NotMSUser
    • Keyboards are unecessary

      Android phones have Swype, which is way easier than even a physical slideout keyboard.
      Aerowind
      • Ummm...no

        IMO Swype is *not* easier than a slide out for certain kinds of typing. For very simple texting, maybe.
        toadlife
      • Need Keyboard

        The big screen just makes the virtual keyboard bigger. With a slide-out, you get to see the entire screen.
        Regulator1956
  • Easy Fix if yer in Seattle

    www.jcdrepair.com
    MORZ
    • Thanks

      My ex lives in Seattle, so I'll pass that along to her.
      Jim Kirk
  • Me...

    Me, personally, I'd go on eBay and buy a replacement screen from one of those Chinese vendors who sells parts for phones then do the install myself. I've done something like this on an old iPod. It can be a little hairy sometimes, but it's worth it for the experience, IMHO.

    The one thing I could never see myself doing is walking around with an iPhone with a cracked screen.
    dsf3g
    • I did it...

      When my mom's iPhone 3GS got knocked off and her screen was destroyed. Cost me about $45 on amazon.com. Two screws and a couple ribbon cables later, her phone looked brand new.
      Vartra