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How do I replace the glass cover, digitizer and display on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S?
If you are certain that the display on your iPhone 4 (GSM), iPhone 4 (CDMA), or iPhone 4S is broken -- it is visibly cracked, not responding properly to touch or otherwise damaged, for instance -- Apple can replace the screen for a cost of US$199 plus US$6.95 shipping (and sales tax, when applicable).
However, more affordable third-party repair services are available and it also is quite possible for a technically skilled individual to replace the iPhone 4 glass cover, digitizer (the touch sensitive layer of the screen), and display.
Note that the iPhone 4 has the glass cover, digitizer and LCD integrated as a single piece. Unfortunately, this makes the part rather expensive and requires one to replace the entire LCD assembly even if only the outer glass has cracked or the "touch sensitivity" is not working -- or is not working properly -- but the underlying screen otherwise looks fine. Please also note that installation is difficult and professional installation is recommended.
If you are not certain whether or not you have an iPhone 4, these models can be externally identified by a unique model number listed on the back of the phone toward the bottom. The iPhone 4 (GSM) -- intended for use on AT&T in the US -- and the subsequently released iPhone 4 (CDMA) -- intended for use on Verizon and Sprint in the US -- are model number A1332 and A1349, respectively. The iPhone 4S is model number A1387.
The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models also can be differentiated by the serial number with EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iLookup. Although the serial number is not externally listed, but it is available when plugged into a computer on the "Summary" tab in iTunes. If the display works enough to use the screen, the serial number also can be viewed by browsing Settings > General > About from within the iOS.
Display Replacement Video Instructions
For technically skilled individuals, PowerBookMedic provides videos below that can be used to replace the display in the iPhone 4. The first video covers opening the device and removing the battery, which is fairly simple, and the second covers the much more challenging task of disassembling the device and accessing the LCD component.
The procedure for the iPhone 4S is similar, but iFixit provides step-by-step instructions for this iPhone specifically.
From watching the videos and reviewing the instructions, you should be able to determine whether or not you are confident to replace the display assembly by yourself or if you instead would feel more comfortable hiring a professional.
Site sponsor Mission Repair offers free iPhone hardware diagnosis and a professional 24-hour iPhone display replacement service by mail in addition to replacement iPhone display parts for those interested in self-repair.