Hey Apple, It's Time You Replaced Our Cracked Screens For Free

Yesterday afternoon, we attended the Australian launch of the LG G5; an intriguing Android smartphone that boasts a modular design with a host of snap-on peripherals. But arguably the most exciting announcement was LG's commitment to replacing smashed G5 screens for free — not questions asked. This is something we're seeing more and more of as smartphone vendors look to win over prospective customers. But so far, Apple has refused to come to the party. What gives?

Photo: YouTube

In a bid to make the G5's $1099 price-tag easier to swallow, LG has announced it will replace broken screens free of charge, regardless of the cause. This will be a one-time offer, so accident-prone users will need to be vigilant after the first smash.

Still, one free screen replacement is better than zero free screen replacements, which used to be the industry standard. If you broke your screen it was down to user error and you were expected to wear the costs. Slowly but surely, this mindset is starting to change.

LG's offer follows in the footsteps of the Huawei P8, which provided a similar 'Screen Promise' program last year. Any Huawei P8 purchased between 21 July 2015 and 30 June 2016 was eligible for one free screen replacement for any screen damage within the first 12 months of purchase. HTC also has its own version (currently US-only) and we imagine Samsung won't be too far behind.

Personally, we think these initiatives are fantastic. There are few things more depressing in life than accidentally breaking a brand-new flagship phone and having to cough up hundreds of dollars to repair it.

You can cry "mea culpa", but when you consider how fragile these things are and how often we use them on an hourly basis, accidental drops are practically inevitable. In a bid to keep customers loyal and happy, vendors are finally acknowledging that their devices aren't actually built to last. Hurrah!

And then there's Apple. Currently, customers who forked out for an AppleCare+ protection plan are charged up to $149 for iPhone screen repairs. If you don't have AppleCare+ the price can go as high as $248.95.

As the company explains on its website (emphasis ours):

Accidental damage isn't covered by the Apple One Year Limited Warranty, but AppleCare+ covers two incidents of accidental damage with a service fee. The price depends on the type of repair. If we can’t repair your product, you might need to replace it.

In other words, while other manufacturers are using screen repair as a customer incentive, Apple is using it to charge more money. And it gets worse. Last year, Apple was embroiled in the Error 53 controversy. This was a much-maligned "security feature" that purposely bricked any iPhone that underwent an unauthorised, third-party screen replacement. Affected users could't turn their phone on, update them or even recover their data.

The official reason behind the move was to thwart thieves attempting to bypass the phone's security lock by removing the Touch ID sensor. However, many affected customers accused Apple of deliberately punishing them for choosing to go with a cheaper repair service over Apple’s official iPhone Repair store. And they kind of had a point: repairing your iPhone through a third-party essentially turned your device into an expensive doorstop with zero explanation.

In response to mounting pressure from irate customers and consumer protection agencies, Apple eventually relented and released a security patch to fix the issue. Ho-hum.

It's likely Apple really was trying to keep iPhones secure, but the way it went about it was inconsiderate and arguably arrogant. The very least it could have done was issue some kind of explanation before unleashing the update. As it stood, people had no idea why their phones had stopped working.

Following this PR debacle, you'd think Apple would be willing to placate its fanbase with a free screen repair program similar to LG's, Huawei's and HTC's. Instead, it's business as usual.

Doubtlessly, most iPhone users will shrug and turn the other cheek. Apple has some of the most loyal fans in this or any industry — loyalty that is often taken for granted. It would be nice if the company chose to reward this once in a while. In the meantime, keep holding your iPhones nice and tight.


We're keen to hear what you think about free screen replacements. Is this something we should have have been getting all along? Or is it another example of consumer entitlement and attempting to pass the buck for our own clumsy ineptitude? Share you thoughts in the comments!


Comments

    Free screen replacement is a ridiculously entitled thing to demand of a company. Is your argument limited to just screens? Surely if I drop my phone in the toilet, the manufacturer should replace it because of it's 'fragile' sensitivity to water? After all, the circumstances leading to the damage would be the same.
    The argument that the frequency of use and fragility excuses your clumsiness is clutching at straws. Are we to start demanding the same of watch, car and sunglasses manufacturers?
    In all seriousness, good on LG for offering this gimmick but to expect any company to pay for your mistake is childish.

      I think your argument is valid, but it's one side of a double-edged sword. Don't forget that Apple charges their customers ludicrous of money for products which don't quite meet the same standard of many other brands (ie: Sony's waterproof phones). Not to mention that almost all content for the iPhone needs to be purchased through their own stores in order to be compatible. All these purchases via iTunes amount to a significant amount of investment in one product/brand. There's a lot of forced loyalty imposed on the customer & this is also a reason why people are reluctant to leave Apple. I agree that Apple takes this for granted & they don't nearly reward their customers much as they should. I guess when you're number one, there's really no reason to try as hard.
      I also agree that no company should have to pay for the mistakes of their customers, but Apple certainly have the power to bring the costs of these repairs down significantly which is why I truly believe this is just another money grab.

      Last edited 21/04/16 2:00 pm

    Vendors should replace the screen an unlimited number of times, not just once per device or year.

    If 1 person broke their screen 100 times during the life of the phone. Or if 100 people broke their screen once each. The cost to the vendor is still for 100 screens.

      Vendors shouldnt have to replace anything for free unless its defective.

      You don't demand that the manufacturer of your car replace your windscreen for free if it breaks.
      Or the builder of a house replace the windows if you break one.

      Materials and labour cost money, if its your fault that its broken then its up to you to pay for a replacement.

      Phone manufacturers should make it easier to get official replacements, so that we dont have to rely on the mobile repair stores in shops which use the cheapest of cheap replacement screens from China that don't work properly.

      If 1 person broke their screen 100 times during the life of the phone. Or if 100 people broke their screen once each. The cost to the vendor is still for 100 screens.

      Exactly what is the relevance of this statement? Are you implying that offering unlimited repairs won't lead to more overall repairs that the vendor has to make? The number of people claiming won't decrease as the number of repairs per a person goes up to balance that total...the overall total of work to be covered will instead climb AND the potential for abuse will also increase.

      To put it in context and to demonstrate why unlimited repairs aren't covered, the manufacturers are trying to avoid 100 people all replacing their screens 100 times each for a total of 1000 repairs.

    You can cry “mea culpa”, but when you consider how fragile these things are and how often we use them on an hourly basis, accidental drops are practically inevitable. In a bid to keep customers loyal and happy, vendors are finally acknowledging that their devices aren’t actually built to last. Hurrah!I'd rather just have a phone that was built to last in the first place :P

    That said, three years with this phone and I've dropped it all of twice, only causing a minor dent to the casing. But then it is a Nokia.

      Considering my Samsung S2 held solid for 5 years (and only replaced as the usb socket died) and my barely 12month old S5's screen is detaching and front camera lens has shifted. They sure don't make them like the used too. :)

      I have a feeling the g5 screen breaks really easily

    For a start, LG announces this and you attack Apple for not doing it. What about every other phone manufacturer? Why specifically target Apple?

    And secondly, why should I pay more for my phone - cause lets face it, this is built into the pricing - just because someone else breaks their phone? I look after my stuff. I don't want to pay for people who don't.

    Last edited 21/04/16 1:25 pm

      As mentioned in the article, it's not *just* LG. Several major Android brands do it. I singled out Apple because they charge a lot and actively blocked users from getting cheaper repairs elsewhere (albeit for unrelated security reasons.)

      I'm not so sure the price of the phone includes the cost of repairs - all of the flagship Androids are around the same price, whether they include free screen repair or not.

        Interesting take on economics. Replacing screens for free clearly costs money and it is included in the price of the phone, its really just a question of whether it's added to the original unit price or taken out of the per unit profit. I know that's what you meant. I'm just being "that guy".

        Last edited 21/04/16 3:04 pm

          My point is that you're not being slugged with a 'clumsiness' premium as you suggested. Comparitive phones that dont provide free repairs aren't any cheaper. (For example, the Samsung Galaxy S7 costs $1149. The G5 costs $1099.)

    Usually the cost of such things comes from sonewhere... but given that the glass is the most fragile component, at cost repairs of the glass up to say three strikes would be better.

    The fact a 149 price on an insured phone and an extra 100 bucks for non insurance does seem a bit steep. Official glass replacement should be so low and time effecient that there shouldnt be third party competitors imo. Good service when a customer is desperate for a fix is worth its weight in PR.

    Just do what I used to do with my iPod when it broke: get a pretty girl to take it to the Apple shop. Most of the "genius" employees are so desperate they will do anything to get the chance to impress a woman, including on the spot replacements.

    The only reason Apple should consider this is if they start losing customers because other manufacturers are doing it. That's unlikely as Apple has cornered a niche market and they already have the best customer service for any phone manufacturer.

    Hey Apple, I'm careful and never drop my phone which is protected by a good case anyway. Give me $150 a year in perpetuity for being a sensible person.

    What a load of nonsense.

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