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Whether you use an iPhone or an Android smartphone, there’s one unfortunate experience that unites users of both camps — a broken display. Whether or not your phone is protected by a case, no matter how careful you are, a broken screen is often more of a “when” than an “if.”

Also: The best phones to buy in 2024

Screen damage may seem like the death knell for a phone, but you might be surprised to learn how quick and easy it is to get your device repaired and back in use. Moreover, it might end up costing you a lot less than you expect.

Let’s explore your options for repairing a broken smartphone screen.

My phone screen is cracked! What do I do?

First off, let’s assess the situation. But before we proceed, remember that your phone’s screen is made of glass, and glass and fingers don’t mix well. As someone who has had to pull numerous bits of glass out of their digits over the years, I urge you to be careful!

If your display is heavily cracked or has chunks falling out of it, it’s game over. You’ll need to get the screen replaced. See below for your options. In the interim, consider using an old phone lying around while your daily driver is being repaired.

Also: Apple to allow used parts for some iPhone repairs

However, if it’s only lightly cracked, with maybe a couple of little cracks going across the display, then you might be able to carry out a temporary repair by using packing tape or a screen protector over the top. Not only does this prevent further damage, and keep your fingers away from the broken glass, it’ll buy you some time and keep your phone usable until you can get it repaired.

Back up your data

If your broken phone is usable, the first thing you should do is back up all the data on your phone, either to the cloud, your computer, or to the onboard microSD card if you have one installed.

Hopefully, you’ve been doing this regularly anyway, because if your screen is a total loss, and your data isn’t backed up, now you’re relying on your phone being fixed to get that data back.

Get a data backup regime in place before you need it!

Getting your phone screen fixed — the options

You might be surprised just how many options are available to you when it comes to repairing your phone. As I’ve mentioned, a cracked screen is the most common injury to befall a phone, and as such, an entire industry has sprung up around it. Much like car repair, your phone repair options are quite similar.

  • Manufacturer Repair Services: If your phone is still under warranty or an extended warranty such as AppleCare, check with the manufacturer for repair options. While this repair option is rarely the cheapest, it can be one of the best due to the use of genuine parts and professional service. Many of these centers provide same-day service for certain fixes, ensuring your phone is repaired quickly and efficiently.
  • Third-Party Repair Shops: If you live in a large town or city, chances are you’re not far from a phone repair shop that can fix your screen quickly and often quite cheaply. Ensure you pick a reputable shop to avoid further damage to your phone by checking reviews before handing over your device. Even better, ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations. 
  • Mail-In Repair: Many manufacturers and third-party repair shops offer a mail-in repair option if physically dropping off your phone isn’t feasible. Again, check reviews before committing to ensure reliability.
  • DIY Repair: Yes, you could try your hand at repairing your own phone. There are a lot of screen repair kits available online, and a lot of these kits come with all the tools and instructions you need to do this job yourself. However, I urge caution here because even if your phone is already broken, it’s possible to break it a lot more. There are a lot of delicate ribbon cables and components inside a modern smartphone and if you don’t know what you’re doing, or you’re using the wrong tool or using the tool in the wrong way, things can go from bad to worse.
  • Insurance: You might already be paying an insurer to cover your phone. It’s worth checking because you may get the cost of your repair covered. Depending on your insurance coverage, you might need to pay a deductible, or it might affect your premium in years to come, so keep this in mind before using this option.

The case for a case (and a screen protector)

No matter what the purists say who prefer to carry their phones unencumbered by a case, phones protected by a decent case are far more likely to survive a drop than those that aren’t. I know, I know — cases add bulk. But it’s that extra, rubbery cushioning that will dissipate the energy from a fall, rather than your screen.

Also: The best iPhone 15 screen protectors

Many cases are designed to improve grip, reducing the likelihood of accidental drops. Some cases even come with ergonomic designs that make holding your phone more comfortable, so you’re less likely to drop it.

There are a lot of cases on the market that offer a high level of protection from companies such as ESROtterbox, and Spigen.

I’ve been encasing my precious smartphone in a case since smartphones first began, and I’ve yet to suffer a cracked screen. Another crucial layer of protection worth considering is a screen protector. There are various types available, ranging from inexpensive plastic films that may not look great and that are hard to apply to tempered glass protectors that offer high optical clarity and are super easy to fit.

Even if you’re not prone to dropping your phone, a screen protector can help keep your display looking new for longer. This can be particularly beneficial when it comes time to sell your smartphone, as a pristine screen can increase its resale value.

Also: This powerful power bank is perfect if you charge a lot of devices

While cases guard against drops and impacts, screen protectors shield your display from scratches and minor damages. Opting for a tempered glass screen protector will get you a high level of optical clarity and a smooth surface that feels much like the original screen, and this ensures that your phone not only stays protected but also retains its aesthetic appeal.

By taking these precautions, you can keep your smartphone in excellent condition, extending its lifespan and potentially enhancing its resale value. Remember, when it comes to protecting your device, something is always better than nothing.

The bottom line

There are numerous options available for repairing a cracked smartphone screen. You can choose the best method based on the severity of the damage, your budget, your technical skills, or whether you have insurance. Whether you opt for manufacturer services, third-party repair shops, mail-in repairs, DIY kits, or insurance claims, there’s a solution to fit every need and budget.

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