Cracked Screen? You’re Not Alone

BreakingModern – A month before the original iPhone was set to release, Steve Jobs summoned his engineers into his office and showed them the iPhone that he’d been beta testing for the last few weeks. The plastic screen was canvassed with scratches from ordinary use.

With little more than a month till launch, Jobs required the engineers to create a smartphone that had a glass screen instead of plastic.

A brief history of the smartphone (and the cracked screen)

The iPhone was not an outright original device. It wasn’t the first cell phone. It wasn’t even the first phone with third party apps. Palm was doing that for years with the now defunct Treo. Even Blackberry had some apps that could be installed before the iPhone was released. What made the iPhone so singularly successful was Apple’s ability to incorporate ease of use into the device – the same ease of use it applied to PCs since the early days of personal computing.

Another key difference in Apple’s iPhone was the choice to use glass instead of plastic. The iPhone was to become Apple’s flagship product, and it might not have been game-changing if customers scratched their screens with every day use. See, the iPhone’s key asset was the screen; the screen was the only method of accessing the device, unlike every other phone at the time, which all had physical keyboards.

Yet switching from plastic to glass effectively traded one problem for another. You could drop a phone with a plastic screen and worry little about it shattering. You won’t necessarily be as lucky with a glass screen. The difference is that customers won’t blame the manufacture if they drop their phone, but they would have if their device was scratched from normal use.

For those with an HTC phone, make sure to take advantage of their Free Screen Replacement program.

Save Your Screen

There are a few ways to prevent a smartphone screen from shattering when it’s dropped. One way is to tie a leash around it. Reelklip has a Kickstarter campaign to make one and Cosmos sells a five pack for $3.99. It prevents drops, shoves and (some) thefts on the street. Another way is to keep a rubberized sheath around the phone, but that defeats the phone’s portability. It’s less likely to fit in a shirt pocket with all that encasing.

What if the phone could hover to the ground when it’s dropped? A few of years ago Jeff Bezos applied for a patent to install little jets on each tablet and phone so when the device perceived it was being dropped, it would discharge six small puffs of air and bring it safely to the ground, or even a nearby table. I don’t know if Bezos is working on that or even thought of it since. It might be one of those inventions that if someone else actually gets around to creating such a thing, the patent holder will get a piece of it.

Damaged screens are certainly a common problem. A recent survey of 2,500 iPhone users revealed that nearly a quarter of them were using phones with a screen that was chipped, scratched or cracked. Other smartphones are just as vulnerable.

Search “cracked screen” and you’ll find hundreds of how to videos to replace the damaged screen on your phone and scores of companies that will do it for a price.

It will cost $150 to replace the glass in-store, the same price as a new iPhone 5 or 5c. Users who purchase Apple Care can mail in their phone to be fixed for $80. Repairing the sapphire glass on the home button and the ring around the button may be more expensive, but those two parts are much less likely to break.

For BMod, I’m Dino Londis.

Featured Image Credit: By Edward (Originally uploaded to Wikipedia, here.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Header Image Credit: By Sashataylor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: HTC and aNewDomain Media co-produce this site, and its editors and writers are paid accordingly.

Dino Londis

Author: Dino Londis

Based in New York, Dino Londis is a senior commentator at and BYTE. Follow @dlondis on Twitter.

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