The Cost of Repairing Your Tablet

by Emily Guy Birken · 13 comments

We had only owned our new iPad 2 for about two months when the inevitable happened. While dropping my husband off at the airport, the device slipped from my hands and fell Gorilla Glass-down on the pavement. Of course we had been using it without a cover, and of course the screen was smashed. I checked to make sure that it was still functioning, and then powered it off, hoping that we might be able to salvage it.

After a little research on the internet, I discovered that our blunder is a remarkably common one. Relatively low-cost and mobile technology come with a host of repair and maintenance problems. According to a report from N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, repairs of some of these gadgets can cost 50% to 100% of the purchase price. Remember, though, that this report is focusing on the cost of in-house repair by the manufacturer. There are, in fact, several other options available to the careless or luckless owner of a broken tablet:

1. Manufacturer repair. This will by far be the most expensive option, but you know that the repair will be done correctly. When I contacted our closest Apple store — which is at least an hour drive away from us — I was told that the base rate for any repair is $599, although some easier repairs may be less expensive. When I politely thanked the Apple Genius, she reminded me that I could not count on anyone other than Apple to correctly repair the iPad.

It is important to note, however, that many manufacturers want to avoid having a negative reputation for making their customers purchase new gadgets after “life happens” type damage. In particular, Amazon has been quite generous in replacing Kindles at no charge to the customer when the e-reader has suffered damage that is not necessarily covered under warranty. You must have the damaged Kindle to return to Amazon in order to take advantage of this — in case of loss or theft you are on the hook for buying a new one.

No matter what your plans for repairing your tablet, it is worth your while to contact the manufacturer or dealer and explain the situation. You may get the benefit of an unofficial replacement policy, and you will at least learn what the worst-case financial scenario will be.

2. Third-party repair. Do a Google search for tablet repair, and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of repair services available for your particular gadget. These third-party service providers offer repairs at much lower rates than the manufacturer — in order to repair the glass for our iPad 2, most of the service providers I looked up would charge in the range of $150-$200.

As the Apple employee pointed out to me, however, it is possible that using a non-Apple repair service could cause other problems. In order to make certain that you are using a service that will help rather than hurt your broken tablet, stop by some message boards devoted to your gadget to check out what other users have to say about each repair company. This is not a fool-proof way to know your tablet will come home whole and as good as new, but it’s a good way to have an idea of which companies are legitimate and which are not.

3. DIY repair. As with any project, you can save money on your tablet repair if you are willing to do the work yourself. My husband and I found that the parts necessary to pry off and then replace the cracked screen cost us about $80 total from Amazon. There are many YouTube videos that detail how to go about fixing broken tablets, and the website www.ifixit.com is an excellent resource for DIY gadget and machine repair. Provided you know for certain what is wrong with your broken tablet — and websites like ifixit and other boards can help you to correctly diagnose your problem — fixing your gadget yourself is a cost-effective way to get back to playing Angry Birds.

One caveat, however: you need to be careful and precise while following the DIY instructions. After my husband had painstakingly removed all of the shattered glass from our iPad 2, he placed the new glass incorrectly on the tablet and ended up breaking one corner of it, as well, rendering our repair useless. Luckily, another glass front only cost us $45, so we’re still ahead in the repair process. And, more importantly, my husband can no longer make fun of me for originally breaking the iPad, which is information that could come in handy one of these days.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

PFM March 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I would check your credit card’s protection benefit, you may be able to get a free replacement. I was surprised when my credit card paid in full for my son’s 2 week old prescription eyeglasses that he left behind in a hotel. Can’t hurt to call them and ask what their policy is. Good luck!

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Emily Guy Birken March 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for the tip, @PFM. In our case, the iPad was a gift, and we’d rather not tell the giver what happened. With other gadgets, though, I’d certainly give my credit card a call.

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Michelle March 11, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I’ve used ifixit to replace the broken screen on my iPhone. It took a bit of patience (maybe 2 hours to fix it with the repair kit) but the amount of money I saved made it more than worth it.

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lala January 28, 2014 at 6:49 am

how much did it cost? what was the repair kit named?

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Squeezer March 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hilarious!!! Now you have some blackmail that you can use on your husband.

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Emily Guy Birken March 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

@Squeezer, and that is exactly why I was thrilled to have to buy another sheet of Gorilla Glass. :)

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Marbella March 10, 2012 at 5:42 am

There are shatterproof glass for Iphone, Laptops and lots of other certain technical equipment, it’s just that Apple wants to sell more new ipad that they do not have shatterproof glass in them.

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Isaiah Burris January 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I got an EMATIC tablet for Christmas, It was so much fun to go on, then one day my friends wanted to see it…. and as I was walking to them, I took the tablet out of its case and tripped on the carpet and drooped it screen first. It will turn on and charge but when you touch it, nothing happens! :(

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Emily Guy Birken January 22, 2013 at 6:11 am

Isaiah, after writing this article, my husband and I have had to replace the screen another FOUR times. (Yes, we had a case for it, but it was one of those that you have to remove in order to use the iPad.) We finally found this case: http://www.otterbox.com/

We’ve accidentally dropped the tablet in the case several times since then, but not a scratch on the iPad. I highly recommend getting this or another case like it. Totally worth the money.

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John March 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm

We have a third party repair shop here in Oregon called MacTonic. They’re awesome – truly they can repair iPhones (and I believe tablets) at a much lower cost than the manufacturer. Great article, good tips!

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David March 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

What no picture of the broken iPad? :)

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Emily Guy Birken March 15, 2012 at 1:51 pm

We use the iPad’s camera!

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James Rapp May 14, 2013 at 10:58 am

ISG offers businesses and resellers ISO policy Quality Comprehensive Maintenance Services for their fleets of mobile devices. For just 99.00 per
year per device we cover all repairs except in case of full immersion or complete crushing of the device. (no lost or stolen coverage) There is no co-pay, no limit on incidents, covers accidents, spills, worn parts etc. Therefore better than AppleCare, insurance or Carrier plans which all just swap the unit 90% of the time. This is a B2B Service however and our services are not aimed at end users.

Jim Rapp
jrapp@isg-service.com

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