When I shattered the screen of my iPhone 5 earlier this week I was reasonably sanguine. I had at the back of my mind that replacing a screen would be quick and easy. Not so: iPhone 5 screen replacement is a major and costly operation. It is also difficult to get a straight answer from Apple.
First stop was the internet. I learned that Apple Stores in the USA are now equipped with special machines for iPhone 5 screen replacement for a standard cost of $149. This is considered cheap and not without reason as it turns out. Next I called Apple Care. Unfortunately, their new policy dictates that I pay £25 for the privilege of speaking to a real person. Alternatively, I could have purchased Apple Care (my phone is still within the one-year warranty) and a human at Apple would have been delighted to speak to me. Impasse.
This morning, after returning to London, I took the phone to the Apple Store in Covent Garden. I soon learned that there is only one option and that involves handing over £179 (£149 plus tax, a figure suspiciously adjacent to the $149 quote in the USA. It’s just 50 percent greater). As far as I can determine, there is no cheaper alternative and, in the circumstances, it is far better to spend that money with Apple rather than with some backstreet bodger.
The swap phone arrived at the Genius Bar shrink-wrapped and boxed, looking suspiciously like something that had just fallen off the retail shelf. The Genius kept the box and packing, the only difference between this and a normal purchase transaction.
The high cost is tempered by getting a new phone, not just a new screen. I asked the Genius if it was a refurb and he denied it. It was a “new phone” but “maybe one or two components have been replaced.” I am not quite sure what this means but I suspect it is Apple speak for “we are taking a new phone off the shelf but don’t want to tell you that.”
The good thing is that I think I have a new phone and it comes complete with what I assume to be a new battery. My old phone, after nine months’ constant use, was showing the usual signs of reduced capacity.
What about third-party screen replacements? We have all seen backstreet shops offering new screens for as little as £25. I tried a few, locally and in Chinatown, and all tut-tutted and quoted “around £180”. I also checked an on-line repairer and they, too, wanted £180. I began to think that the Apple Store is the cheapest shop in town, if only by 100 pence.
A foolish slip on my part has lightened my wallet by £179 but, at least, there is the positive aspect of having a new phone.