When you drop your iPhone you have that horrifying moment of dread. They fall like toast – butter (screen) side down and as you pick it up you slowly turn the iPhone in the hope it hasn’t cracked. Sometimes you feel relieved but if you’re not so lucky the screen now resembles crazy paving and using it risks little glass daggers in the end of your fingers.
Now you know you have to get it fixed but it’s an expense no one wants. You’re already fed up that your precious phone is broken let alone having to spend more money to get it fixed. So you hit the web looking for the cheapest price possible. It’s understandable. Most iPhone repair hits on our website are from customers using the search term “Cheap iPhone screen repair”. Cheap repairs though are not always the best.
What is a “Glass Only” repair?
Most modern phones are built and sold as a sealed unit. There are not many phones anymore where they are made to be serviceable by the user. You cannot even change the battery in most flagship smart phones. Repair centres are able to get in though and once access to the internals is obtained the phones are of a modular design. The battery, logic board, cameras and screens are normally whole modules attached by ribbon cables that are plugged together.
With iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, Sony Xperia phones and the like, the front screen is manufactured as a complete sealed unit. The touch screen digitizer, LCD, front glass and frame are bonded together with strong adhesive and optical glue. Quite often when a phone is dropped it is just the front glass that breaks. The picture may still display and the phone will probably still respond to touch. Because of this it may seem a waste to replace the whole screen but there is a reason why we do.
Some companies, one man bands and what we call “Home Repairers” (not registered businesses but have a website) advertise glass only repair – normally a little cheaper than businesses that offer full screen repairs (like us).
Some of them will offer 2 prices – one for a full screen and one for if the LCD or touch screen is still working. The reason for this is that they are recycling the broken screens from other iPhones they have repaired by replacing the glass on old screens and then installing them in other phones.
How is the Glass Only repair done?
First they will remove the frame that holds the screen to the phone. They then heat up the glue and try to remove the broken glass from the LCD. This can cause scratches and dust to fall on the LCD. They then use cheap 3rd party glass and attempt to stick the glass on to the cleaned LCD. This quite often leaves visible dust, air bubbles and sometimes scratches on the underlying LCD. The adhesive used is normally UV light activated to cure it and the glue used isn’t always as strong or as long lasting as the original. Also if the glue isn’t correctly applied or bonded properly, the LCD may have a shadow round the outside noticeable in certain lights.
While this might not matter to some people there are more draw backs that can happen further down the line. If the glass isn’t well sealed to the holding frame it can fall out and break again. Also if there is any dust, air bubbles or marks on the LCD the resale value of the phone will be greatly diminished.
An example of a poor iPhone 6 glass only repair:
The iPhone pictured above was brought in to us today. It had been repaired twice by the same local “company” and both times the glass became detached after just a few weeks. The business didn’t honour a warranty blaming the customer for mistreating the phone so he was charged for a full repair both times.
He also had an iPhone 4 repaired at the same time and the screen was coming away on that too but wasn’t too bad at the time so the customer is living with it for now. Both phones had been repaired the same way by the same person – glass only repairs.
As you can see on the picture above, there is very little adhesive between the frame and the glass and it looks like normal super glue was used. it is our belief that because of this, the glass lifted from the frame and as it is attached to the logic board at the top by ribbon cables, the glass screen lifted up off the frame from the bottom and was able to flap around and crack the glass along the top. Not good, and certainly not the fault of the customer.
So should you dismiss glass only repairs?
While glass only repairs can be done well it is a very skilful repair that requires quite expensive equipment to be done right. Automatic glass bonding machines and vacuum chambers to remove bubble can result in a good finish but cost thousands of dollars so for an actual legitimate business, the investment wouldn’t generate a cost saving or much of a return. Because of that fact, we import OEM parts direct from suppliers that are the full screen. The actual saving in time and parts of glass only repairs isn’t economical. Whilst the parts we use are more expensive you get a perfect finish and returns are virtually nonexistant.
Our advice would be to ask for full screen repairs as they will almost never go wrong unless another drop happens which is the same for any screen.
If you really do want a glass only repair ask what equipment the repairer is using (just a hot plate and wire or a fully automated bonding machine in a dust free environment with a vacuum chamber to remove bubbles), and what is the expected finish (bubble and dust free or is a less than perfect finish expected).
Gamer Tech Repairs