There you are, looking in horror at your iPad with a cracked screen. After you get through the tears and recriminations, we’re here to help you get your device fixed, as easily and inexpensively as possible. We’ve been through this process several times before, and can keep you from making the same mistakes we did.
If you read our “What To Do BEFORE You Break Your iPad” feature, there’s a chance you took our advice and bought AppleCare+. If so, what to do first is easy: contact Apple about getting your tablet repaired for only $49.
Not an Option: Repair It Yourself
A bit of Googling will turn up companies that will sell you the parts and tools you need to repair your own iPad. We urge you to not go this route. Apple designs its devices to be super-sleek at the expense of making repairs extremely challenging.
But don’t just take our word for it. iFixit is one of those companies that sells tools to fix your own iPad, and even it gives these devices quite low scores for repairability. The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro got a 2 out of 10, for example, and the 12.9-inch Pro (2015) got a 3. The instructions for disassembling Apple tablets are full of warnings that a slip with a tool here or there will cut through a ribbon cable, significantly adding to the repair cost.
Repairing an iPad is less like fixing your own car and more like cutting your own diamond. Without a certain amount of training and expertise, you’re just going to make things worse.
Before anyone gets up on their high horse about Apple making its tablets too hard to work on, we should note that Microsoft’s webpage on dealing with any broken Surface Pro warns that “Physical damage can’t be repaired, so your device will be replaced.” No matter who makes them, super-slim devices are hard as hell to work on, but it’s the shape we customers want.
Option 1: Live with It
Before doing anything else, ask yourself, how badly broken is your device? If the screen it’s just cracked along one edge, you should think hard about whether it’s worth the expense of fixing it. We’ve used devices with a single crack across a glass bezel for months without problems. Our best advice is look for a case that covers up the screen bezels, as this will also cover the blemish.
A single crack across the center of the screen is also something you might be able to live with, even though it’s going to be tougher to ignore. Just be careful, as the edges of the crack are sharp. Based on our experience, we can say you won’t cut yourself just running you finger across it, but don’t move your fingertip down the crack. Or if you don’t like the idea, get your screen replaced.
The situation is completely different if the screen is shattered. Pieces of glass will soon start working loose, and these will be razor sharp. Not only should you get the tablet fixed as quickly as you can, you should stop using it as soon as possible.
Option 2: Take it to Apple
The most obvious response to a broken iPad is to take it to Apple, even if you don’t have AppleCare+. This is the safest option, as you can be 100% certain that your device will be fixed without undue hassle. But that doesn’t make Apple the best option for repairing your cracked tablet display. It’s often the most expensive, and frequently the slowest method. We’ll discuss other options in a bit.
Naturally, the price for repairing an iPad varies from model to model:
- 9-inch iPad Pro (2015), 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017): $599
- 5-inch iPad Pro: $449
- 7-inch iPad Pro: $379
- iPad 3rd generation, iPad 4th generation, iPad mini 3, iPad mini 4, iPad Air 2: $299
- iPad, iPad 2, iPad Air, iPad 5th generation: $249
- iPad mini, iPad mini 2: $199
If this is the option you go with, you’ll need to ship your tablet to Apple and you’ll get a repaired device back in three to five business days. You can also ask for express replacement service, which means Apple will ship you a replacement iPad even before you send in your device. Speeding up the process doesn’t cost any more, but be careful because there’s hefty late fees if you dawdle about sending Apple the broken product.
Take note: you aren’t getting your original device back from Apple, but a replacement unit. It’s critical that you backup the contents of your iPad before you send it in. You can easily do this by going to Settings > Tap on Your User Name at the Top of the Screen > iCloud > Scroll down to iCloud Backup > Back Up Now. If you leave your iPad plugged in and connected to Wi-Fi for a few hours a backup will be made automatically every day, but it never hurts to make sure.
And just so there’s not any confusion, you aren’t getting a new iPad from Apple. Your replacement will be one previously sent in for repair by someone else. It’ll be in good condition, but it’ll be used.
Be aware, a lot of this doesn’t apply to you if you’ve had your iPad’s casing engraved. You’ll need to send in your tablet and wait two or three weeks while it’s repaired.
Option 3: Consider a Third-Party Repair Service
Apple is hardly the only option for repairing your iPad. In fact, if you live anywhere larger than a hamlet there’s probably a cell phone repair place within a few miles of you that can replace a broken iPad display. You’ll want to seriously consider one of these because they’re generally cheaper and faster than Apple.
There’s a caveat here, though: if you have a recently released iPad, you might have difficulties finding a third-party repair store that can get the part you need. For example, no one we contacted could source the 12.9- or 10.5-inch screens for the 2017 iPad Pros.
Prices for repairs vary from company to company, of course. And many repair outlets don’t publish their prices because they don’t want their competitors to know them. But we were able to compile a list of typical prices for iPad repairs just for reference:
- 9-inch iPad Pro (2015): $350
- iPad (2017): $125
- iPad Air 2: $300
- iPad Air: $100
- iPad mini 4: $250
There’s no shipping required when using these companies because they are in your town. Just drop off the tablet and come back and get it the next day, or sometimes even the same day.
Not the End of the World
If you’re reading this before breaking your tablet, please seriously consider getting insurance. But if you’re looking for guidance afterward, the best advice we can give you is get on the phone and call all the cell phone repair companies in your area looking for the best price to fix your iPad.
It’s a bit of hassle and a definite expense, but you’ll soon have your trusty iPad back.