Smartphones can be fragile. It’s easy to assume that a device costing nearly $1,000 would be built a bit more robustly. But as anyone who has ever dropped an iPhone will attest, the first thing to break will be the screen. Tap or click to find out how much it costs to fix a broken iPhone 12.
Not wanting to fork out hundreds of dollars to get the screen replaced by Apple, many take their device to a third-party repair shop. For a fraction of the price, you will have a brand-new display in a few hours.
For franchises like iFixit who specialize in smartphone self-repair kits, it is a lucrative business. Displays and components can break, and it costs much less to repair it yourself or send it to a third party. But a change to how the iPhone 13 is manufactured is putting the entire repair industry in jeopardy.
Here’s the backstory
Having the screen of an iPhone 12 replaced by a third-party repair shop will set you back about $230. If you take it to Apple to get repaired, it will cost you about $50 more. Feeling adventurous? You can buy a self-repair kit for $124.
The price to get an iPhone 13’s screen repaired by Apple is even more. It starts at $279 for the base model and goes as high as $329 for the iPhone 13 Pro Max. It would be less if a third-party repair shop could do it. But, a change in manufacturing is making that nearly impossible.
iFixit, which sells at-home repair kits and replacement components, had a closer look at Apple’s iPhone 13 since it was released. To its astonishment, the Face ID used to unlock the device will be disabled if an unauthorized person replaces the screen.
How the change will impact you
In a tear-down blog, iFixit details how the display is paired to an iPhone 13 through a small microcontroller, about the size of a Tic-Tac. When the screen is detached from the microcontroller and a new display is installed, Face ID will not work.
Repair shops with sophisticated equipment and very steady hands have managed to get around this new system. Removing the soldered chip from the damaged screen and reattaching it to the new display is currently the only way to do it.
For many third-party repair shops, this will be a crushing blow. Several can’t afford the special tools needed or train staff accordingly.
Right now, the only legitimate way to get your new iPhone 13 repaired is to take it to an Apple Authorized Service Provider. You can make an appointment, schedule an on-site repair or mail your device to Apple.
Now might be a good time to consider getting AppleCare+. It will only cost you $29 to get the screen repaired when you have a $9.99 monthly subscription.