How Do I Get My Cracked iPhone Screen Fixed During The Shutdown?

There’s a lot you can’t do in a pandemic—at least, if you’re smart. You shouldn’t be going to the shops (even if it’s open), nor should you even consider just lollygagging around the Apple store and taking stupid pictures on their demo devices.

Editor's Note: Apple stores around Australia are now opening up once again so you shouldn't have to wait too long to get your products repaired locally.

However, the quarantine—self-imposed or otherwise—also comes with some frustrations. If your iPhone breaks, for example, you can’t just waltz into an Apple store to get it repaired at the ol’ bar of smart people. You’re kind of stuck. Or are you?

If I’m quarantined, how can I get my phone repaired?

In this week’s Tech 911 column, we’re taking a question from Lifehacker reader Stephanie. She writes:

My iPhone screen was already very, very cracked before The Pandemic hit the U.S., and it’s only gotten worse since. (As in there’s no way I would pull it out of my pocket when it’s even beginning to drizzle.)

I know it’s absurd on the scale of problems right now, but how can I get my screen fixed before it’s too late? FYI I live in NYC, and the few services I’ve heard of are not currently accepting appointments. Also, I am currently on reduced pay, and resigned to the possibility that I could very well have no income any day now, so spending hundreds of dollars for a new phone etc. is absolutely out of the question.

Thanks and please stay safe!

You have options, but you might need extra patience

It’s not absurd to want to fix your device. It’s never absurd. Just because we’re in a quarantine, and you’re stuck in one of the biggest hotspots for COVID-19, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to have working technology. That’s especially true now, since your phone is even more of a lifeline to the world than before.

Aside from the obvious calling, texting, and Slacking you’re probably doing, it’s what you’ll use to tether your other devices if, or when, your internet goes out. It’s how you’ll record all the silly videos that are keeping you sane during these trying times—or the images of the barren New York City streets that you’ll look back on years from now with fondness, once the sweaty hustle and bustle resumes in a (probably) post-vaccinated world. You’ll think, “The coronavirus is terrible, but it sure was nice not to have tourists standing in front of me wherever I go.”

I kid, but I do want to stress that wanting to lead a normal life—including normal and functional use of the gadgets you rely on—is a perfectly fine, unselfish thought right now. Unfortunately, you’re correct; the “new normal” we’re living in, especially in New York City, means that you aren’t going to have super-easy options for getting your phone fixed. That includes those shady-but-sometimes-reliable “fix your phone!” kiosks littered around the city, as well as the mighty Apple store itself.

Try looking for an Apple-authorised repair provider that’s still open

I did a quick search for authorised service providers on Apple’s support site, and the results aren’t pretty for New York City. In fact, here’s all I could find:

Screenshot: David Murphy

For those reading this not in NYC, your odds might be a lot better—since you likely don’t live in a coronavirus epicentre, and you might even live in one of those places where everyone’s partying on the beach and celebrating and such. So, who knows, maybe you’ll have 20 repair centres to pick from. Either way, I’d start here: Search Apple’s support site for authorised repair centres near you and see if any are available to repair your device.

Otherwise, you’re probably going to have to send in your iPhone to have it repaired. That’ll cost you time, but at least it’ll get it fixed.

Screenshot: David Murphy

I don’t know your specific warranty situation—and Apple will tell you, don’t worry—but you’re looking at potentially blowing up to $US329 ($507) for an out-of-warranty repair. The number goes down the older and smaller your device is, so you might luck out with a mere $US129 ($199) out the door if you’re repairing an ancient iPhone SE. You can check Apple’s prices here.

You could go for a third-party repair, but...

Places like UBreakIFix will be more than happy to work out a repair arrangement for your device, which could even include curbside pickup. You’ll probably even be able to pay slightly less for your repair than you would at Apple, but you might also have a less-than-stellar experience, depending on how a third-party service fixes the device. Ah, the joys of Apple’s fight against right-to-repair.

You didn’t mention which iPhone you have, but you might want to reconsider your “buy a new one” approach. I’d modify that sentence, actually, to simply read, “buy one.” You don’t have to plunk down $US1,000+ ($1,542)+ for a brand-new iPhone. If you’re still rocking, say, an iPhone 8, you can pick up a functional (but possibly not pretty) one for around $US200 ($308) from a third-party seller. Heck, you could even get an I-just-need-something-to-survive iPhone SE for $US50 ($77)—the older iPhone, that is, not the newer one.

You don’t have to buy an expensive iPhone replacement

Given the times we’re living in, and the fact that repairing your iPhone might be a pain in the arse (and expensive, as you noted), paying one-fourth the price of a repair for just something you can use to get by is an option. It’ll tide you over until your work hours go back to normal and you can repair your original device (or buy something better, potentially).

Let’s recap

I don’t love any of these options, but there they are.

  • Send it in to Apple. Expensive, but authentic parts. You’ll have to wait, but you’ll get your iPhone fixed up the best possible way.

  • Find an authorised service provider: This will be tough in NYC during a quarantine, but if you can find an Apple provider that’s available, you might save a little time on your repair. Money? No. Time? Maybe.

  • Find a third-party repair shop. Depending on what’s open, you might save cash and time, but this can be a gamble. Replacing the screen at an unauthorised repair shop will void your Apple warranty, if applicable, and possibly lead to a worse-looking display depending on what parts the repair shop is using. You also might be fine. It’s a gamble—less so for older iPhones, and more so for newer ones.

  • Buying a used but functional replacement. Whether you’re replacing your broken phone with the exact same model or going back a generation (or two) to simply get something that’s cheap and functional, delaying the repair is certainly an option worth considering.

  • Phone a friend. Try asking around. The odds are decent that someone has a spare iPhone (likely an older one) sitting around in a drawer somewhere that they aren’t using. See if you can borrow it until you’re in a better spot, job-wise, then consider your repair options from there. Swapping out your SIM to another iPhone is easy.


Do you have a tech question keeping you up at night? Tired of troubleshooting your Windows or Mac? Looking for advice on apps, browser extensions, or utilities to accomplish a particular task? Let us know! Tell us in the comments below or email [email protected].


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