≡ Menu
Vagabond Journey

Why Do iPhone Screens Break So Easily?

Yes, it happened again.

I thought that I was pretty cool when I replaced the cracked screen on my iPhone myself a few weeks ago. I told my wife and father who doubted me to shove it — I won:

They said it couldn’t be done. My dad and wife. They watched a Youtube video with me about how to replace the screen on an iPhone SE. The directions were ridiculous: tiny screws and difficult to reach circuit board plugs; removing and reattaching home buttons and selfie cams. If I was alone I would have said f’ck this and paid the $80 for a professional to fix it. But I wasn’t. They were there with me saying that it couldn’t be done.

I’m an ENTP. Someone saying that something can’t be done is a glaring and unavoidable invitation for me to do it. It’s just the way I’m programed.

Anyway, I did it and I gloated about it — flaunting my victory in their faces.

Then a week later I dropped the phone and broke the screen again.

Go ahead, laugh.

What the f’ck.

All of the other smartphones that I have ever used I have never cracked a screen before. All of my Blackberries, my old Samsung, all off them still have their original screens completely intact. Yes, I’ve dropped them, I’ve crushed them, I’ve mauled them…

Then I get this iPhone and two relatively minor drops resulted in two cracked screens.

But that’s not all. iPhone screens don’t merely crack, they explode — like the windshield of a car. Spiderwebs everywhere. But unlike the windshield of a car, the broken pieces splinter off, getting stuck in fingers and eventually revealing the innards of the phone, making a screen replacement inevitable.

And it’s not just me. Apparently, 23% of iPhone screens get cracked and 15% of all iPhones in daily usage have broken screens. So you pay $1,000 for something to look cool and then lose it all to a slight bobble a week later … A broken status symbol is no status symbol at all: it’s a revelation of your foolishness.

But I have to ask, if nearly a quarter of a product gets broken in the exact same way maybe there is something wrong? Why do iPhone screens crack so easily? According to FastCompany:

Americans spent $23.5 billion replacing broken smartphones in 2014–an untold chunk of which goes to iPhone screen repairs, which cost Apple about $40 in parts but cost you roughly $110 to $130 (or $80 to $100 if you have AppleCare).

Putting aside the fact that Apple is likely making a lot of money off iPhone screen repairs (and even more from warranties, which represent revenues in the $1 billion to $2 billion range), why hasn’t it prioritized durability in its industrial design, as some of its competitors have? Because if Apple focused on building a more rugged product, it could likely make an unbreakable–or at least far less breakable–iPhone screen.

Anyway, I was defeated. I’m taking the phone into a repair shop to have the screen fixed this time. The only question is how many more times am I going to have to do this?

Filed under: Digital Nomad, Electronics, Technology

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3424 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

2 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Trevor August 15, 2018, 7:40 am

    You´re pushing out articles thick and thin here…. so re the iphone… built in obsolescence… like when u buy a washing machine, get the 3 year warranty and it breaks a week later…. or if u get 2 years from literally anything these days your doing well. re the iphone, you need one of those bullet proof cases . i saw in china that some had these cases with a chain which they had round their neck. long enough so u can still use the dam thing but just so it didnt hit the deck with a bang.

    in Tartu…. going Riga today.

    i do everything to protect my android. why? cos my friends r on it… LMAO

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard August 17, 2018, 4:41 am

      Yes, it’s crazy. Other phones don’t seem to have screens that break like that.

      Enjoy the Baltics!

      Link Reply