With 70 percent of Americans using smartphones on a regular basis to call, text, email, or watch TV, movies or how-to videos, it's no wonder that one-third of these users will damage their phones in some way. In fact, one British study revealed that the average iPhone user would break or damage their phone in some way within the first ten weeks of owning it.
That doesn't bode well for those of you willing to shell out more than $1,000 on the new iPhone X. It's no wonder that AppleCare is such a popular add-on for iPhone users. You know what will happen the first time you drop your phone in the bathroom. Or even worse, in the toilet.
Can an iPhone's Screen be Repaired?
The good news is that one of the biggest advantages of owning an iPhone is its reparability. Unlike other smartphone brands, Apple knows that you will likely break or crack your screen while you own your iPhone, regardless of its generation. That is why they have made screen repair as simple as possible. Instead of using adhesive to connect their screens to the rest of the phone, Apple uses screws and flex cables to hold their phones together. Instead of requiring a heat gun and specialized knowledge of soldering, your iPhone screen can be repaired in minutes, while you wait.
iPhone parts are commonly found, and with manufacturers flooding the market with replacement screens and batteries, high-quality, inexpensive parts are easily found for every generation of phone. Apple also uses a charging port that is connected to the motherboard by a flex connector cable. This makes removal manageable and straightforward when you are replacing an iPhone screen. Other brands use soldering to attach the charging port to the motherboard which requires specialized tools and knowledge on where and how to reconnect the system for it to work correctly.
That's not to say that every generation of iPhone can be repaired the same. In fact, each series has something new to watch out for.
iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s
Going back to the dark ages (okay, 2010), Apple had a steep learning curve when it came to screen repair. In those days, you had to remove the back with the basic screws and then practically remove the entire processing system of the phone to get to the screen. This cumbersome repair meant that iPhone 4 and 4s users were stuck with a hefty service tab if they broke their screens. It’s no surprise that Apple took this flaw to heart when they released the iPhone 5.
iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and iPhone 5c
The housing and screen mold for the entire 5 series is the same. Regardless of the model, the same screws held the back in place, leaving you with the same basic exterior. The most significant changes happened where you would never see them. The original iPhone 5 did not have a fingerprint sensor on the home button. As a result, there was no need to connect the home button to the motherboard. This left two major connections that needed to be addressed when you replaced the iPhone 5 screen. In fact, with the introduction of the iPhone 5 came the popularity of screen replacement. Where the iPhone 4 made it nearly impossible, the 5 fueled the fire of iPhone repair businesses like Forever Wireless.
When the iPhone 5s was introduced, there was suddenly a fingerprint sensor on the home button that necessitated a third connection to the motherboard when the back was removed. This means that, when you went to repair the 5s, you had to disconnect the fingerprint sensor carefully and reconnect it. Otherwise, it would not work.
Then something interesting happened…
iPhone 6, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6 Plus
When the iPhone 6 was released, suddenly you couldn’t purchase any 5s screens. When we began questioning our parts companies, they only responded that no one was making the 5s screen anymore, but didn’t explain. It all became clear when the SE was introduced. The raw materials that were once used to make 5s screens were suddenly being used for 6 and SE screens. The only problem was that once production resumed on 5s screens, the price had tripled to drive people to purchase new phones rather than have their old ones repaired.
Even though the iPhone 6 had some significant improvements in camera and function, there were some flaws in its design. For one, there was no adhesive keeping the screen together. Therefore, the phone did not have a water resistance rating. The move from the 6 to the 6 Plus did nothing to improve this. In fact, these phones are nearly identical in how they are made and how their interior parts are connected. The only difference was the screen size.
The move from the 6 to the 6s resolved a lot of the problems of water resistance. Once Apple included a seal between the body of the phone and the screen frame, they also started including a water resistance rating that helped protect a lot of phones from water damage. While you can certainly use heat to loosen this seal, we generally use a razor blade, so the heat does not damage any other parts of the phone.
In fact, before we go any further, let’s talk about water and dust for a minute.
How Do Water and Dust Get Into a Phone?
People always ask how water gets into a phone. After all, the case should protect the most important parts, right? Through lots of expensive, rigorous testing, the most often ignored part of a phone’s water resistance is in the charging port where the phone meets the body. After all, what better way for water to find its way to your electronic parts than through a large (relative to its size) hole in the bottom of it? Sure, recent generations of iPhones have included a rubberized cover to protect the charging port from water, but we still see moisture inside of phones where this rubberized seal is intact.
Where does that water come from?
For a second, let’s say you didn’t drop your phone into the kitchen sink full of water or the toilet or your cup of coffee but there is still water inside of your phone causing it to short out or shut down. Where did it come from?
Let me ask you this – do you put your phone in the cup holder of your car?
Not only does condensation gather in the bottom of your cup holder, unless your car is regularly detailed, it likely resembles the dust bowl down there. This combination of moisture, dust, and dirt can be deadly to your phone.
A simple solution?
Dash mounts are the perfect place to put your smartphone while you drive. Not only can you listen to music and easily see turn-by-turn directions, but your phone will also remain dust, dirt, and moisture free. Fortunately, you can find a variety of dash mounts at Forever Wireless that will meet both your phone specifications and your driving needs.
Back to iPhones.
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
With the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus came a complete redesign of the phone’s structure, inside and out. While the iPhone 7 did not look dramatically different from the 6, improvements in the body’s design and materials made it a much stronger, more durable, more water resistant phone. With a tougher adhesive connecting the phone to its screen, the waterproof rating increased allowing it to be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes. However, the differences didn’t stop there. The placement of all of the interior connections is different from the iPhone 6 series and in many ways better. Where three cables needed to be carefully disconnected and then reconnected to make the screen work, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus only had two cables to deal with when you were replacing the screen.
Most people would argue that the biggest improvement in the 7 and 7 Plus was the increased waterproof rating courtesy of a much tougher adhesive. When we replace an iPhone 7 screen, we put a similar adhesive back on the phone as long as the body is not bent. There is one problem. There is no way for repair shops to mimic the waterproof adhesive you receive from Apple when you originally purchase your phone. This means whatever waterproof rating your phone originally had, it will no longer have once the screen has been replaced.
Then again, even Apple doesn’t really warranty your phone against water damage. Sure, your phone should be safe for a certain amount of time, but should you bring your phone in after taking it swimming, they are unlikely to replace it. This is why, if you are likely to use your phone around water or sand, it is crucial that you purchase a reputable protective case that will protect your phone from the elements. These cases come in many designs and specifications and are available at every Forever Wireless store.
On a side note, there are some workarounds, but it is bad news if your iPhone 7 home button is broken.
Looking Ahead – iPhone 8 and iPhone X
iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 are strikingly similar when it comes to replacing the screen. From the placement of the motherboard, battery location and connections between the two to the type of replacement screens you use, repairing an iPhone 8 series is nearly identical to an iPhone 7.
Then there’s the iPhone X.
The most significant selling point of the iPhone X is also its biggest question mark when it comes to screen replacement. Since the infinity screen is manufactured by Samsung, it is possible that replacing the screen on the new iPhone X will be as troublesome as replacing the screen on a Samsung smartphone. It remains to be seen how a repair shop will separate the infinity screen from the glass without damaging both the screen and the backlight. We will also know in the coming months what types of replacement parts will be available on the market. Sure, the glass can be a higher quality than what Apple uses on their phones, but can the replacement screens mimic the original Apple manufacturer’s quality? Since Apple is in the business of reparability, the screen will be replaceable, but what will be required to replace it?
How Do I Know My Screen Needs to be Replaced?
There are certain times when your screen will obviously need to be replaced. You drop it in the driveway and your Doberman steps on it. You forget it is in your pocket and you dive into the pool at a pool party. Your child decides to try hammering a nail into it.
Then there are less certain times when the screen is intact but still won’t work. During these times the screen may start to flicker, a gray bar may appear at the bottom of the screen, or the touchscreen becomes unresponsive. Chances are it has “touch disease.” In this case, your phone’s circuit board has become disconnected from the IC chips that make the touchscreen work. This tends to happen when the phone is dropped too many times or is otherwise damaged internally. While the screen does not need to be replaced in these cases, the IC chips need to be re-soldered to the motherboard, a job that can only be done by the professionals at Forever Wireless.
Can a Battery Be Replaced in an iPhone?
There is a reason why screen replacement is Forever Wireless’ bread and butter. When the screen is broken, won’t turn on or is cutting your fingers, your phone is a very sophisticated paperweight. If your battery charges slowly or won’t hold a charge as well as it did when you first bought your phone, you will live with it until you are desperate enough to pull the trigger on battery replacement.
And yes, a battery in an iPhone can be replaced.
However, not all batteries are created equal. Low-quality batteries lead to poor power regulation which, in turn, causes issues with processing, charging and functionality. Currently, there are three types of batteries on the market:
- Batteries that are removed from decommissioned phones. Every time a phone is replaced by an insurance company, the insurer then resells those phones to companies who salvage and repair them or dismantle them and use their individual parts. Batteries are removed from decommissioned phones and then tested to see how many life cycles remain in the battery. The battery is then given a grade (A, B, C or D) and resold to companies like Forever Wireless who will use them in other phones. We like to purchase all of our replacement batteries this way whenever possible, but there are not often high-quality batteries available for the phone we are working on.
- High-quality replacement batteries. At Forever Wireless, we purchase all replacement batteries from a factory with similar quality as the manufacturer that makes original Apple parts. The question inevitably comes up – Why not buy from the original manufacturer directly? Because they only sell directly to Apple, not to retailers or repair shops. The next best thing is high-quality replacement batteries that mimic the original in performance and quality.
- Aftermarket batteries. We do not use aftermarket batteries simply because we cannot control their quality and performance. However, many manufacturers, particularly in China produce these batteries and offer them at a significant discount to the general public.
Will Replacing My Screen Void My Warranty?
It was not that long ago that replacing your screen via a third party voided your warranty with Apple completely. Thanks to a recent policy shift, having a shop like Forever Wireless replace your screen will no longer void your warranty. However, relying on an inexperienced third party store or person to replace your screen is a risky move. In their policy memo, Apple went on to say that even slight damage to the components of the phone as a result of replacing the screen could void the warranty completely. That is why it is essential that you only place your phone in the hands of experienced Apple professionals who have repaired thousands of phones, rather than an inexperienced repair shop trying to make a buck.
Can I Repair an iPhone Myself?
Truthfully, yes. If you have access to the right parts, the right equipment and a little know-how you can successfully change out your iPhone screen. However, before you watch a few YouTube tutorials and make an attempt yourself, let me offer a piece of friendly advice.
Unhook your battery as soon as you open your phone. Next to screen replacement, one of the most common things we see in the iPhone repair business is someone who has tried to replace their screen and forgot to unhook the battery before removing parts of their phone. As soon as you open the back of the phone, you run the risk of static electricity traveling through your fingers, into the motherboard of the phone and frying the whole thing. Once this happens, you are looking at a much more costly and time-consuming repair, not to mention the loss of a lot of the data, contacts, and information you were storing on your device.
Instead of playing handyperson with something that is so important, allow the professionals at Forever Wireless to fix your iPhone in minutes. With an appointment, we can have you fixed and on your way in around 15 minutes, at a fraction of what you will pay elsewhere. Can’t make it to one of our locations? We offer onsite repair service where, for a small fee, we can come to you to fix your phone. For more information or to schedule your appointment today, call or visit Forever Wireless.