I remember when I broke the screen on my iPhone. I was carrying a bunch of stuff, and foolishly placed my phone on top. As I was walking, is slowly slid to the front and before I could react, it plummeted to the asphalt below, smashing the screen. I was devastated. Contacting Apple, I was told that it would cost about $200 to repair it. WHAT? That’s as much as I paid for it new! Then again, to replace the entire phone would cost me about $700 because I was still on contract. And talking to third party repair people led me to the conclusion I wouldn’t save that much money. I had heard that I could, with research, patience and a custom kit, repair it myself for half the price or more. Could I do it? Turns out I could.


I should point out is that if you’re phone contract is up, you’re better off just getting a new phone. The iPhone 5 (4GS or whatever it’s going to be called) is rumored to be coming out in October and you’re going to want it. You know it. So just wait and re-up. If you’re stuck on contract like me, it may still be worth the extra cost to have Apple fix because the repair will be warrantied. But if you’re on a budget, or like to tinker, then going the DIY route is an excellent challenge. But you have to be very good in handling TINY screws and the patience to take something apart and put it back together.


The best place to go is YouTube. There are tons of videos there on how to replace your screen, but I liked the step-by-step videos from TechSpank (http://www.youtube.com/user/TechSpank). They do both the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 in separate videos and the host of the video had never done it before. He follows directions he found online, and he makes common mistakes that you can look out for and avoid yourself. But he also shows how to overcome them with patience and a gentle touch.


There are kits from iFixIt (about $50-65) (ifixit.com) and The PhoneDoctors ($87-97 depending on carrier) (thephonedoctors.com) and you can start and stop doing each step with him. There are also cheaper kits on Amazon that cost about $15. But understand that some tools may not be included.   Any kit come with all the tools and parts you need to replace your shattered screen, although the host also found a flathead electronics screwdriver was also needed. Another great tool that came with the iPhone 4 repair kit, but you can also get separately is the ScrewMat. The Screwmat has a picture of the inside of your phone on it and magnetized sections for each screw you remove. This keeps them easily in one place and helps you to organize and return every part so you don’t lose them or have any left over. Worth every penny of the $20 fee (or $50 for the entire set including iPod).


Another important element is to have a clean, well lit workspace. You’ll also need a heat gun or hair dryer for removing the iPhone 3GS screen.


Lastly, you’ll need patience and a methodical sense of doing things. This is where the videos and the step by step instructions come in handy.   Also, one last piece of advice – make sure you get all the tiny pieces of broken glass, and remember when you return parts into the iPhone 4, if you don’t hear a “click,” chances are you didn’t put them back properly.

It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’ve replaced RAM in your computer or a hard drive in your laptop, then with some patience, you can replace that cracked iPhone screen yourself … and save a bunch.

James DeRuvo