Consumer Reports: Repairing a cracked phone screen

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Reporter Lauren Glassberg has the latest on the DIY method for phone fixing (KGO-TV)

Sooner or later, it happens to the best of us: Your smartphone screen cracks.

A professional replacement can be expensive, so Consumer Reports wanted to try some cheaper do-it-yourself repair kits to see how easy it is to go from shattered to smooth.

Cracked phone screens are annoying, and sooner or later many of them need to be fixed. If your phone is not under warranty, older, or both, paying to fix it might not seem worth it.

"It would have cost me $129 to get the screen of an iPhone 6 repaired at the Apple store," Consumer Reports tech editor Bree Fowler said.

She writes about smartphones and wanted to try a few do-it-yourself screen repair kits to see how they work. So Fowler rounded up some cracked iPhone 6s and fixed them for about $50.

"It was actually really hard," she said.

So what does it really take to fix your own screen? A lot of patience, and some skill. In addition to removing the screen, you need to disconnect the home button, camera, sensors and microphone. Not to mention melt adhesive with a hair dryer without damaging the phone.

Fowler successfully did all of that, but when it comes to those really tiny screws, there were setbacks.

"They were stripped," she said. "I mean, anyone who's built anything or taken anything apart knows how aggravating stripped screws can be. But imagine having to deal with those screws, and having them be nearly microscopic size."

She ended up with a dark, shadowy image in the upper left corner of the screen, and the phone works, but it's not the same.

"To me, the hours that I put into this, the aggravation and the stress, it just wasn't worth it," Fowler said.

Consumer Reports' take is to fix at your own risk. If you want to save money on an older phone and you're up for a challenge, though, the kits can give you everything you need.

The kits Consumer Reports used are available online. The iCracked repair kit is from a smartphone repair company and cost about $50. The other kits, uRepair, and the RSTH, both cost between $40 and $45, and are available on Amazon.

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