Will iPhone 4 Be Less Prone to Cracked Glass?

Cracked iPhone Screen

A few years ago I dropped my iPhone on the ground, cracked the glass, and paid a whopping $250 to get it replaced.

I wrote a couple posts about the cracked iPhone screen incident and have since received hundreds upon hundreds of comments on them from readers who also had bad experiences damaging their iPhone screens. A couple of lawyers even claimed Apple deserved to be sued over the issue.

Now, Steve Jobs has announced that Apple has developed a new “glass that’s 30 times harder than plastic” for iPhone 4.

Did Apple develop a stronger iPhone glass in response to the thousands of iPhone users who have made the expensive mistake of cracking their iPhone screens?

Hopefully fewer people will be victims of cracked iPhone screens once the new iPhone is released. Has this ever happened to you?

Cracked iPhone Screen a Problem for Many Users

A post I wrote on my cracked iPhone screen over two years ago has received over 200+ comments from readers who had similar experiences damaging the glass on their iPhones.

Cracked iPhone Screen

In January of 2008, I shattered my iPhone screen and took a trip to the Apple Store to get it repaired. I paid $250 to exchange my broken phone with a refurbished iPhone. Apple does not repair cracked iPhone screens. Instead they classify your iPhone as damaged, give you a replacement iPhone, and ship your broken one off to be refurbished for the next poor sucker who drops his iPhone.

There are now third-party iPhone glass repair companies that will fix your iPhone for far less than the Apple Store. Of course, Apple might void your warranty if you use a third-party iPhone repair service, but that may be worth the savings, considering the high cost to replace your iPhone at the Apple Store.

Various accounts from commenters on my original post raise the question of whether Apple is being fair to its iPhone customers:

Apple will not even consider for a moment that this very serious and apparently common issue is worth investigating, it is far easier to class it as abuse while reaching their hands out and expecting me to fork over $300 for something that would cost them no more than $20-$30 to fix. So now here I am, with 3 iphones, 2 of which are broken.

My daughter tripped while hers was in her pocket the phone did not hit the ground but the screen shatter. (I saw it happen) The apple store wanted 200 for a new phone. She is 17 and bought it with her babysitting money, after doing quite a bit of online research chose the iphone over the blackberry. No where was it disclosed that the screen is so fragile.

My mother’s iPhone screen cracked not too long ago as well. We documented our experience with Apple’s service department.

In brief, Apple refuses to do repairs on broken iPhone screens because they fall under the category of “accidental damage” and therefore are not covered under warranty. Instead, the only option they give customers is to buy a replacement for $199, the same price as the new iPhone 3G coming out on July 11th.

Is Apple being unfair to iPhone users by not offering a reasonably-priced glass repair service? Readers report Apple’s replacement iPhones are now $199, down from the $250 I paid two years ago, but nevertheless an inflated price to pay for a relatively simple repair.

Given the high risk of cracking your iPhone screen, the lack of available insurance, and the high cost of replacing an iPhone, Apple must be making a killing off of iPhone users who have cracked their iPhone screens.

A couple of attorneys even left comments on my original post, speculating that the iPhone’s commonly cracking screen could be worthy of a class-action lawsuit.

Hopefully Apple’s upcoming iPhone will be more injury-proof.

What do you think?

Are cracked iPhone screens worth a legal battle? Do you think the iPhone screen is too prone to cracking, or is a touchscreen phone naturally more likely to crack because of its glass surface? Please share your opinion in the comments.

iPhone Glass Repair: My Visit to the Apple Store

I went to the Apple Store in Miami today to get a replacement iPhone after my iPhone glass cracked when I dropped it on my wood floor.

Apple Store

Read about my iPhone glass repair experience below:

Since I read on the iPhone warranty that “service may not be available if your iPhone has been damaged due to accident or abuse,” I was expecting that the iPhone glass repair would cost me and that I would not get a free replacement.

iPhone Glass Repair Cost

I was right. Despite my pleas, both the tech support rep and a manager insisted that the warranty would not cover any physical damage and that I would have to cover the cost of the iPhone glass repair myself.

So I reluctantly handed over $250 big ones — an act I’m hoping to soon forget — to get myself a replacement iPhone.

iPhone Broken Glass

Apple’s repair fee for the iPhone is much too high, in my opinion. I feel that charging $250 for something that probably costs far less to fix is taking advantage of customers.

Apple knows that once I’ve paid the hefty price for an iPhone, I’m not likely to leave it damaged and buy a competitor’s phone, especially when there are few phones out there that can offer the same user experience. They could probably charge an iPhone glass repair fee of $400, the price of a new iPhone, and people would still pay up.

So I went home and tried to forget about the arm and the leg I’d just given to Apple in exchange for a new iPhone. Then, as I was importing my backed up contacts from iTunes and upgrading to firmware version 1.1.3, I noticed a significant discoloration on the chrome that I had missed before.

Had the iPhone replacement cost me $50, I would have disregarded the smudge, but for $250 I refused to settle for a new iPhone that was anything less than perfect. So, irritated, I drove back to the Apple Store and explained this to a manager.

Although he was nice, he tried to explain to me that certain defects are “within spec,” and that I might be out of luck.

He said, “for example, if a pixel on the screen is out, that would be within spec and we wouldn’t be required to replace it.” In other words, “if we give you a damaged product, it’s not our fault.”

I refused to accept such a nonsense policy, so the manager agreed to put me on standby so that I could talk to a tech support rep at the Genius bar. Once I was called up, the tech support employee replaced my phone without hesitation.

Now I’ve finally got a clean, functioning iPhone. Next week, I’m ordering myself a case so that this doesn’t happen again. Have you ever had to deal with a cracked iPhone screen? Did you have any luck with an iPhone glass repair service other than Apple’s?

In my panic, I probably spent more than I had to on fixing my broken iPhone. After doing research and hearing about other people’s experience cracking their iPhone glass, I decided to put together this guide, “iPhone Fixes,” that summarizes the options available to fix your broken iPhone. You can download it below:

iPhone Fixes: An iPhone Repair Guide

iPhone Fixes: A Summary of Options to Fix Your Broken iPhone
… and How to Ensure That it Never Happens Again!

Messed-Up iPhone? Don’t Panic…

This free guide tells you what you can do to get your iPhone fixed quickly, cheaply, and professionally.

  • How to avoid Apple’s high replacement and repair fees
  • How to fix it yourself and save $$$
  • How to hire a third-party repair professional
  • The best cases and covers to prevent future damage

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iPhone Glass Cracked: Will it Cost Me?

iPhone with cracked glass

Did the glass crack on your iPhone? Read about my cracked iPhone screen below and find out what you can do about your cracked iPhone glass.

Last night my touchscreen was disabled after I accidentally dropped my iPhone and ended up with a cracked iPhone screen.

My iPhone glass cracked in about five places after I dropped it on my wood floor.

But the iPhone screen cracks are not on the top glass layer of the iPhone. I can actually slide my finger down the screen and it’s completely smooth.

What appears to have cracked is the touchscreen beneath the glass. So my iPhone works perfectly fine, except that I can’t interact with it.

As long as my SIM card is inside, I’ll continue to get phone calls that I can’t answer, my preprogrammed alarms will continue to go off without my being able to hit Snooze, and the phone will not turn off until the battery drains.

The obvious downside of a touchscreen phone is that, generally, if one feature breaks they all do. The lack of hardware buttons means you can’t answer calls, turn off alarms, send text messages or do ANYTHING without a working touchscreen. The cracked iPhone glass resulted in my iPhone becoming completely unusable.

Does iPhone Glass Crack Easily?

Update: New Evidence Suggests Apple May Make Over $100 Million a Year on Cracked iPhone Replacements

When I read the results of PC World’s iPhone stress tests, I admittedly got a little cocky and decided to go without a case for my iPhone.

I’ve dropped my iPhone a number of times, without a problem. However, this was the first time I dropped it directly on its glass surface… and it resulted in a broken iPhone screen. The iPhone cracked glass issue is not unique to me, however.

iPhone cracked glass

After doing some research, it seems the cracked iPhone screen problem is not uncommon. iPhone Atlas notes that “an awkward fall, too much pressure and other unnatural impact can cause cracks in the optical glass.”

Furthermore, you may be more likely to end up with your iPhone 4 screen cracked, since the iPhone 4 contains glass on both sides.

iPhone Cracked Glass Under Warranty?

Apple states on the iPhone Warranty (PDF) that “Service may not be available if your iPhone has been damaged due to accident or abuse.”

Nevertheless, iPhone Atlas said they “received reports from some readers who had success having their iPhones with cracked iPhone screens replaced free of charge by geniuses at the Apple Store … but don’t count on it.”

I’m going to try my luck this weekend at the Apple Store, but I’m not feeling too hopeful. If Apple declines to replace my iPhone for free, I’ll either have to pay them $249 to repair my iPhone, or have it repaired by someone else.

What really bugs me about the $249 repair fee is that it’s only applicable to 8GB iPhones. The 4GB ones cost $199 to repair, even though the hardware that I need replaced is identical on both versions!

So I gave Apple more of my money on January 29 to get an 8GB iPhone, and now they want to exploit that and charge me more for repair? I think that’s unfair.

iPhone Glass Repair: Other Options

So what can you do if you are in need of iPhone glass repair? You can pay Apple a couple hundred for a replacement iPhone, but there are other options as well.

Nowadays there are many third-party repair shops that offer iPhone screen repair at reasonable prices. Check Yelp for vendors in your city. I also recommend searching Groupon, as you may find a deal on there.

If you’re feeling bold, you can attempt to replace your screen and digitizer assembly on your own. There are many low-cost parts that you can find on Amazon for your iPhone model, and this can be a great, albeit risky, way to save money on repairing an iPhone screen.

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Motorola Phone

I’ll be sure and report back after visiting the Apple Store this weekend to let you all know whether Apple was willing to replace my cracked iPhone glass for free.

Until then, I’ll be relying on my trusty old Motorola phone from Wal-Mart. Not quite as useful as the iPhone, but it does make phone calls!

Update #1: I got my replacement iPhone from Apple. Read about my iPhone glass repair experience.

Update #2: Over time, evidence in the comments of this blog has begun to indicate that a cracked iPhone screen is a problem for many iPhone users.