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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 or iPhone 4S model -- whether it is a iPhone 4 (GSM), iPhone 4 (CDMA), iPhone 4S, or iPhone 4S (China Unicom) -- is broken, it will be necessary to replace the entire front of the device.
These models have the glass cover, digitizer (the touch sensitive portion of the screen) and LCD all integrated as a single piece.
Perhaps the glass is visibly cracked, the screen is not responding properly to touch, or it is otherwise damaged, for instance. In these situations, Apple can replace the screen in three to five business days.
Actually, Apple specifically says that the company will provide "a replacement or your repaired iPhone" and this replacement iPhone "will be new or equivalent to new" so there is no guarantee of actually having your iPhone returned per se, should that matter to you.
Apple provides this display replacement service for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S for US$149 and US$199, respectively. There is an extra charge of US$6.95 for shipping as well as sales tax.
However, more affordable -- and often much quicker -- third-party repair services are available and it also is possible for a highly skilled individual to replace the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S glass cover, digitizer, and display as a single piece, too.
Although the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S batteries are fairly easy to replace, replacing the screen on these models definitely is not an easy repair. To the contrary, it is decidedly difficult. It effectively requires one to disassemble and reassemble nearly the entire device as well as typically transfer several small parts from the old display assembly to the new one. Consequently, professional installation is strongly recommended.
If you are not certain whether or not you have an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S (or another iPhone), 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) -- originally intended for use on AT&T in the US -- and the subsequently released iPhone 4 (CDMA) -- originally intended for use on Verizon and Sprint in the US -- are model number A1332 and A1349, respectively. The standard iPhone 4S is model number A1387 whereas the iPhone 4S (China Unicom) is A1431.
The serial number is not externally listed, but it is available when plugged into a computer on the "Summary" tab in iTunes and in the Micro SIM card tray. If the display works enough to use the screen, the Serial Number also can be viewed by browsing General > About from within the "Settings" app in the iOS.
In addition to its serial number, EveryiPhone.com's Ultimate iLookup feature and the EveryMac app can identify iPhone models by EMC Number and Order Number (referred to as "Model" from within the iOS), as well.
Different Display Parts
Although the procedure to replace the display assembly in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S is quite similar, the parts are different.
Consequently, should you decide to replace the display assembly yourself, be sure to purchase the precise part for your exact iPhone. In addition, be sure to purchase the display assembly from a company known for quality. There are aftermarket displays that are not as high-quality as the original one and these lower quality parts may not only perform poorly but also may break more easily.
For technically skilled individuals, these two videos demonstrate the procedure to replace the display in the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, respectively.
iPhone 4 Display Replacement Video
This video, from LE55ONS, diligently covers the entire iPhone 4 disassembly, display replacement and reassembly process:
LE55ONS is collecting donations for Cancer Research in the United Kingdom. If you find the video helpful, please make a generous donation to show your appreciation.
iPhone 4S Display Replacement Video
This video, from iPhoneShopUSA, covers the iPhone 4S disassembly, display replacement, and reassembly process. The procedure is similar to the iPhone 4, but it is not identical:
From watching the videos, you should be able to determine whether or not you feel comfortable to replace the display assembly in the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S yourself, or if you would instead prefer to hire a professional. Hiring a professional not only prevents potential problems, but it saves time, as well.
Professional Third-Party Display Replacement Options
Be sure to purchase your repair service or parts from a trusted company with extensive experience repairing iPhone devices.
In the US, 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.
In the UK, site sponsor Mobile Ease also offers free iPhone hardware diagnosis and can professionally replace the display in the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S in 24 hours by post and even more quickly in London.