24/06/2021

Guide to Mobile Phone Repairs: Ways to Fix a Broken Phone

It happens to the best of us: you’re sitting there, minding your own business, and by a mere accident your phone slips out of your pocket. To your horror, its screen is now cracked. This is especially tragic if you have an expensive smartphone like an iPhone 11 or maybe even a not-so-expensive one like a Galaxy A52. It’s extremely frustrating to see that happen and now you need to figure out how to fix your broken phone. Luckily, there are several options besides buying a replacement phone, so let’s explore them.

Contents:

Why Phone Repair is Better Than Buying a Replacement?

How Can I Fix My Phone: Authorised Repair

How Can I Fix My Phone: Insurance Claim

How Can I Fix My Phone: Third-party Repair

How Can I Fix My Phone: DIY Repair

How Much Does a Phone Repair Cost: Screen Replacement

How Much Does a Phone Repair Cost: Rear Glass Replacement

How Much Does a Phone Repair Cost: Battery Replacement

Why Phone Repair is Better Than Buying a Replacement?

Just like a car, your mobile phone can break down. It can be anything from cosmetic damage and software bugs to camera or charging port’s malfunctioning and slow performance. But you don’t have to replace it, however. Fixing a broken phone surely requires more time and buying a replacement will simply take the hassle away. But repair will give your current broken device a chance to stay in your possession for longer. This in return will help to offset your phone’s carbon footprint and there will be one phone less contributing to e-waste generation. Believe us, the environmental impact of smartphones is worth a repair or at least it being taken into consideration.

How Can I Fix My Phone?

Phone repairs are a wide-spread service, so there are quite a few options you can choose from, but before deciding on which service to go for, first of all you need to understand the two routes available for you - go with authorised or unauthorised repairs. If you pick the first one, then it’s a straight-forward process of booking a service directly with the manufacturer, its authorised repair partner or making an insurance claim (in case you purchased one). If you pick the latter, there are a few more decisions to make: either you do it yourself or pay someone to do it for you.

technician repairing a screen on a phone

Authorised Repair

An authorised repair is the most secure way to fix your mobile phone by a specialist, but it won’t be the cheapest and might not be the fastest. Phone manufacturers as well as their approved service partners provide authorised phone repairs which means that replacement parts used are genuine, technicians are certified to perform a repair and providers strictly adhere to repair and security protocols approved by the manufacturer.

To perform an authorised repair, you can contact your manufacturer or your network provider directly to book a repair, take your phone to an authorised service centre near you or your manufacturer’s store.

  • If you have an iPhone, visit Apple website to request a repair.

  • To book a repair of a Samsung phone, head over to Samsung’s support page.

  • For Google Pixel phone repairs, book your service through Google’s repair center.

  • If you’re looking to repair your Huawei phone, visit this support page.

  • To get your OnePlus phone repaired, check OnePlus support page.

Insurance Claim

Many of us have home contents insurances, separate mobile phone insurances such as AppleCare+ or alternatives or a mobile phone insurance that might be included as a benefit for having a current account with your bank. Phone insurance providers have contracts with certified repair centres therefore claiming a repair through your insurance is another way of getting an authorised repair for your phone. Depending who’s your insurance provider, take a look at the terms and what repairs are covered. If you decide to start a claim, you will be required to pay an excess fee which varies depending on your policy and monthly insurance payments and thereby can be between £25 - £100.

Third-Party Repair

Fixing phones directly with manufacturers is a costly affair, and many turn to independent third-party repair shops. While fixing your phone’s issue just around the corner might save you a considerable amount, manufacturers warn that any unauthorised repair will void your warranty and Apple in particular is incredibly strict with after-sales service of its products which are purposefully made to be difficult to repair. If an unofficial repair is attempted, the software will pick up the non-genuine part and your phone will be rendered unusable which will lead to even more costs.

That said however, there are manufacturer-certified repair shops that do use genuine or high-quality replacement parts and their technicians get training and manufacturer’s accreditation to perform various types of repairs. One of these is Carphone Warehouse. iSmash also promises to use quality parts and you can find their stores in major cities across the country. You can also use our repair shop locator tool to find your nearest repair shop.

DIY Repair

Unfortunately, it's more common to have issues with a phone than to know how to fix it. But with the growing Right to Repair movement, there are many websites, communities and forums dedicated to the topic of DIY mobile phone repairs and the good news is that you can fix your mobile phone yourself.

The tricky part is to know what you’re doing and have the necessary tools and materials at hand. The team at iFixit are doing a marvelous job at providing detailed guides with images and videos on various types of DIY repairs for all iPhones and extensive list of Android devices. You can purchase kits as well that will have all the required tools to help you repair your phone and make the process less frustrating.

There are also repair parties hosted by Restart Project’s volunteers and partners. This is a great community of restarters fixing all kinds of electronics, sharing knowledge and making DIY repairs more accessible.

How Much Does a Phone Repair Cost?

The cost of a repair mainly depends on the model of your broken phone, the type of repair needed for it to be looking great and working again and where you will get your phone fixed. Since we can’t know for sure what phone model you specifically need to repair, we will be looking at the latest high-end examples from Samsung and Apple, popular mid-range and budget phones. We will compare the most common fixes such as screen, rear glass and battery replacements and how much it will cost you.

Replacing a Broken Screen

The worst part about broken phone screens is that it is going to be an out-of-warranty repair, which means if your phone is still in warranty, any physical damage won’t be covered by it. Below we compare how much a screen replacement for top flagships, popular mid-rangers from Samsung and Apple and budget phones are if you choose to send it off to the manufacturer or its authorised repair partner, a third-party repair shop or perform a DIY repair.

PhoneCurrent Retail PriceAuthorised repairThird-party repairDIY (OEM parts)
iPhone 12£799 (64GB)£266.44 (Apple)£269 (Phone Bar)£369.99 (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy S21 5G£769 (128GB)£209 (Samsung)£229 (iSmash)£174.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone 11£599 (64GB)£196.44 (Apple)£196 (Carphone Warehouse)£89.99* (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy S20 5G£699 (128GB)£229 (Samsung)£249 (WeFix)£184.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone SE (2020)£399 (64GB)£136.44 (Apple)£80 (iSmash)£28.99** (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy A52 5G£399 (128GB)£109 (Samsung)£129 (iSmash)£74.99 (Repair Outlet)
Moto G9 Power£129 (64GB)Quotes based on IMEI£79.99 (Revive Lab)£50.49 (Grandado.com)
Redmi Note 9T£229 (64GB)£30.65 + £18.00 shipping
cost + £26.45 inspection
cost (Xiaomi)
£139 (FixFactor)£34.99 (eBay)

* Price for an Apple refurbished screen for an iPhone 11. ** Price for an Apple refurbished screen for an iPhone SE 2020.

At a quick glance, one main takeaway is that it is cheaper to repair a broken display than buying a new phone instead. Comparison of the three alternative options leads to a conclusion that for the majority of phone models we’ve looked at authorised screen repairs by the manufacturer or their service partner are cheaper than going to third-party service providers. On the other hand, DIY repair will cost you less than authorised or third-party repairs, however sourcing OEM screens for less popular phone brands such as Motorola or Xiaomi turned out to be challenging.

Replacing a Broken Rear Glass

Same as with broken displays, physical damage to the back glass won’t be covered by the manufacturer's warranty which means the costs will need to be paid by you.

PhoneCurrent Retail PriceAuthorised repairThird-party repairDIY (OEM parts)
iPhone 12£799 (64GB)£426.44 (Apple)£299.99 (The Gadget Clinic)£179.85* (iParts4U)
Galaxy S21 5G£769 (128GB)£99 (WeFix by Samsung)£55 (TMT First)£25.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone 11£599 (64GB)£376.44 (Apple)£199.99 (The Gadget Clinic)£6.49 (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy S20 5G£699 (128GB)£99 (WeFix by Samsung)£64 (TMT First)£32.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone SE (2020)£399 (64GB)£276.44 (Apple)£59.00 (Phone Fix)Part wasn't available
Galaxy A52 5G£399 (128GB)£89 (WeFix by Samsung)£75.00 (TMT First)£18.99 (Repair Outlet)
Moto G9 Power£129 (64GB)Quotes based on IMEINo service info availablePart wasn't available
Redmi Note 9T£229 (64GB)No available service infoNo service info availablePart wasn't available

* The price for an iPhone 12 spare part found included the entire rear chassis, hence more expensive.

Prices for back glass repair by Apple for iPhones are significantly higher (over £100 more) than the alternative options we’ve compared. Samsung charges reasonable fees to replace the back panels across the latest flagship phones and their mid-ranger. With budget phone models sourcing repair information was challenging, we found out that Xiaomi doesn’t list back repair among its repair services and information about spare parts for Redmi Note 9T wasn’t available at the time of writing. The explanation might be that Xiaomi as a brand isn’t as widespread as Apple or Samsung in the UK, however mobile phone reviewers list this particular model from Xiaomi among the best budget phones which will drive consumers on a budget to choose it over other models and if the unfortunate happens the repair can’t even be considered as such service or parts aren’t available.

Similar situation is with Motorola. Spare back panels for Moto G9 Power were not available for DIY repairs as well as a very limited number of third-party repair shops do Motorola devices. Unfortunately Motorola hasn’t got a breakdown of repair costs on their support page, but you can book a service providing the IMEI number of your phone.

Battery Replacement

A lot of phone’s functionality depends on the battery and as we go through more charging cycles the more the battery degrades slowing down the overall performance of the phone. If you’re noticing that your phone is no longer holding charge for as long as it previously did and the performance is getting slow, it is more likely the problem isn’t with the phone itself, but rather with the battery. Luckily, battery replacement is a relatively easy fix and if your phone is still in warranty, going directly to Apple or Samsung for a replacement might be an ideal solution as it will be free of charge for you.

PhoneCurrent Retail PriceAuthorised repairThird-party repairDIY (OEM parts)
iPhone 12£799 (64GB)£0 (in warranty) / £69 (out of warranty)£59.99* (iphonespecialist.co.uk)£24.99 (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy S21 5G£769 (128GB)£59 (Samsung)£59.00 (TMT First)£24.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone 11£599 (64GB)£0 (in warranty) / £69 (out of warranty)£69.00 (Carphone Warehouse)£19.99 (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy S20 5G£699 (128GB)£59 (Samsung)£59.00 (TMT First)£23.99 (Repair Outlet)
iPhone SE (2020)£399 (64GB)£0 (in warranty) / £49 (out of warranty)£29.99** (iphonespecialist.co.uk)£8.99 (Repair Outlet)
Galaxy A52 5G£399 (128GB)£59 (Samsung)£59.00 (TMT First)£24.99 (Repair Outlet)
Moto G9 Power£129 (64GB)Quotes based on IMEINo service info available£26.45 (eBay)
Redmi Note 9T£229 (64GB)£6.84 + £18.00 shipping
cost + £26.45 inspection
cost (Xiaomi)
No service info available£33.34 (eBay)

* At the time of writing the price was discounted. ** At the time of writing the price was discounted.

The main takeaway from our comparison of battery replacement services is that you’re not going to save money choosing third-party repair versus authorised repairs as in all of the examples the fee charged is the same and if your phone is still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, you shouldn't consider doing the repair anywhere else. But don’t take our word for it, always check the warranty and if the manufacturer covers batteries under it (Apple and Samsung do).

In the case of DIY battery replacement, we found out that Repair Outlet has the widest range of parts for most Apple, Samsung, Google, Sony, Huawei and OnePlus smartphones, so sourcing the part won’t be a problem. However, the challenge might be once you’ve opened the phone to safely take out the degraded battery as manufacturers are making it extremely difficult for repairers.

Takeaways

A fully working smartphone in good condition is worth significantly more than one with cosmetic damage and faults, so repairing your phone before you sell it to one of our featured recyclers, trade it in or pass it on makes total sense. But obviously compare the costs and weigh your options. Repairs might be pricey, but they prolong the useful life of your smartphone, helping you chip away at its environmental impact and can bag you a decent return when you decide to sell your pre-owned phone.

This guide to phone repairs highlighted one major issue: if you own a phone made by the brand that has a decent market share, finding a repair service or a spare part isn’t going to be a problem. However, we can’t say the same about more budget smartphone offerings. The repairs by third-party providers are limited to only certain models of the brand if at all and in most of the cases only screen repairs can be done. So when making a decision which phone to buy, cover your bases ahead by looking at repair information and services or even better get phone insurance, it is going to save you a lot of headache later on.

We fully support the Right to Repair which is hopefully going to ease the repairs of smartphones and give access to official repair guides and parts to more people and businesses. At the end of the day we buy expensive smartphones that unfortunately are not made to last and the least thing that manufacturers could do is to be more transparent about repairability of their own products and provide extended warranties. But at the current state, performing a DIY repair can cause more harm than good, despite wide availability of teardowns, DIY repair tutorials on Youtube and repair guides online. So if you’re not confident, it might be a better idea to skip DIY and get your phone fixed by a specialist.

Antonia

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