iPads are fantastic devices, but they aren’t built for the sort of abuse they are accidentally put through day in and day out. Sliding off a coffee table, the stray arm of a toddler, or a fumble in the tub and it’s lights out for the iPad.
That said, if you signed up for Apple Care+ services (a $99 cost), Apple will replace your screen twice for $49 each time during the two years of the service. Without Apple Care+, Apple charges $200-$300 for repairs. However, there’s another solution: making the repair yourself. While it can be complicated, it is far less expensive.
The first step in repairing the iPad screen is to obtain the right supplies. You’ll need a replacement screen and a digitizer. The digitizer is the part of the iPad that translates your touch into commands. The two of these will run between $50 and $100.
Now you have the supplies, just how do you replace your iPad screen?
1. Tape the glass.
If the glass on the screen is cracked and shattered, place strips of tape across the surface. This will hold the shards together and protect your hands from cuts. Lay the strips of tape in overlapping lines until the entire surface is protected.
2. Open the iPad screen.
In the upper right corner of the iPad, around 2 inches from the top, there’s a gap in the adhesive. You’ll use a tool to open the iPad. There are several options for opening the iPad; here is an affordable choice. Insert the tool into this gap, but be careful to work the tool in between without breaking the glass.
Once you have a slight gap, insert one of the opening picks into the gap to keep the iPad open. Note: depending on the age of your iPad, you may need to use a heat gun on a low setting to loosen the adhesive and gain access to the interior of the device.
As you work the screen open, take care that you do not cut any of the delicate cabling inside. The last thing you want to do is give yourself any unnecessary repair work.
3. Pry the screen loose.
Once you’ve loosened the edges and gained a foothold on the corner of the screen, you can begin to pry the glass loose. There is a good possibility that the glass may begin to chip and break, so take care that you do not get cut (and that the shards do not slice any cabling.) However, the breaking of the glass itself shouldn’t make that much difference, as you will be replacing the entire screen anyway.
Once the screen has been removed, it will still be connected to the iPad. Look for a series of four screws holding it in place and remove them; once they’ve been taken out, there should be two connectors attached to the broken screen.
4. Remove the camera and home button.
Before you install the new screen, you’ll need to remove the camera and the home button from the broken screen. This requires a bit of delicate work with your knife. Follow the outline of the two components and remove anything that may still be attached from the old screen: plastic, broken glass, etc. The home button should be easy to place into the new glass. The camera will require a bit more precision to install, but should slide easily into place and can then be held there with a bit of fast-drying glue.
5. Install the new glass.
After you’ve inserted the home button and the camera, you will want to reattach the two connectors to the new piece of glass. Place them in the same location you found them on the broken glass, and then replace the four screws to hold the display. Slide the glass back into position and ensure it is firmly connected.
Once this is done, you can activate your iPad and begin troubleshooting. Make sure the screen is responsive and that you are able to activate all of your apps, and that no graphical oddities appear as a result. If so, repeat the process above and ensure the connectors have a secure connection to both the glass and the body of the iPad.
While replacing an iPad’s screen is a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be overly difficult. Take your time and work slowly. If it helps, take photographs of each step of the process so you can recreate it during reassembly. This also helps to ensure you know where every component goes. Not only does doing your home repair save money, but it also provides a sense of satisfaction. Wouldn’t you like the knowledge that you can repair your own devices if they break?