Cracked Cell Phone Screen: Sell It or Fix It? Options Compared

A cracked cell phone screen can deal a devastating blow to your ability to connect with business, social, and entertainment interests. You have to get your cell phone back in working order fast, but it can be difficult to determine the best way to do that: should you repair your cell phone, or sell it and purchase a new device? A lot of factors go into answering that question, including price, speed, and convenience. The following compares the repair and sales options you have for a cell phone with a cracked screen so you can make the best decision for your specific situation.

Option 1: Repairing a cracked cell phone screen

Repairing your cracked cell phone screen is the first option we'll review; and as you'll see, this option really breaks down into several more options: warranty/insurance repair, manufacturer repair, mail-in repair, on-site/kiosk repair, and do-it-yourself repair.

Warranty/insurance repair

If your cell phone is still covered under warranty or an insurance policy, you can likely get your phone repaired for free or a reduced price. Apple Care+, for example, provides repairs for $79 for iPhone users. If you have a Samsung Galaxy, HTC One, LG G3 or other cell phone, you can check your manufacturer's warranty and your insurance policy for specific pricing and terms.

Warranty and insurance repairs can take anywhere from several days to several weeks. Moreover, some insurance policies won't actually repair your phone and return it to you; rather, they'll overnight the same model phone that's been refurbished. This is a quick way to get back on a cell phone, but it's not your cell phone.

Keep in mind that many warranties will not cover accidental damage and cracked screens are often included in that category. In addition, even reduced-price repairs conducted via warranties and insurance policies can be more expensive than do-it-yourself repair.

Manufacturer repair

You can send your cell phone in to your manufacturer for repair. Again, costs vary by manufacturer. Apple charges $269 to repair out-of-warranty iPhone 5's, while reports indicate LG charges approximately $150. Samsung likewise charges around $150. Apple aside, these figures are culled from forum groups rather than the manufacturers themselves, so your actual cost might vary depending on the manufacturer and model of your cell phone. Still, we can reasonably estimate the cost of manufacturer cracked screen cell phone repair to be between $150 and $300. Again, you'll wait several days to several weeks to receive your phone (of course, you can always have your wireless provider switch service to an older phone or temporary phone while you wait).

Mail-in repair

There are many mail-in cracked screen repair companies online, and each has its own pricing structure. Most promise to return your repaired cell phone to you within three to five days. You can get your iPhone 5 screen repaired for $130 at iFixYouri, which also charges $250 for Samsung Galaxy 4 screens. imobileRescue, on the other hand, charges $120 to replace a cracked iPhone 5 screen.

Like warranty/insurance and manufacturer repair, mail-in repair requires you to mail your broken device in to have its screen replaced. However, some companies have their own retail stores that handle on-location repair – a convenient way to quickly get your cell phone back in good working condition.

On-site/kiosk repair

Another cracked screen repair option is to take your phone to a local service center or repair kiosk, often located in shopping malls. Apple Stores, for example, will repair iPhones on-site; while independent service centers and repair kiosks will repair any brand of phone. Some repair centers and kiosks can repair a cracked cell phone screen in an hour or less; others might need a day or two to repair your phone. On-site and kiosk repair requires you drive to their location and aren't available everywhere, but their pricing is comparable to mail-in repair so they can prove to be quick repair options for cracked cell phone screens.

Do-it-yourself repair

Finally, if you're somewhat tech-savvy you can repair your own cracked cell phone screen. This typically involves purchasing a new screen (often a combination of an LCD display and digitizer) and disassembling your phone, swapping the screens, and reassembling it. The degree of difficulty varies by model – some screens are relatively easy to replace, others are quite tedious.

You can order repair parts online and have them delivered in just a few days, even overnight from some stores; thus, DIY cracked screen replacement is one of the fastest repairs. Replacement screens typically cost just a fraction of the price of paying a third-party for repair – some are even available for under $20, though others can cost as much as $100 or more, particularly for the latest cell phones.

You'll also need a set of tools specific to cell phone assembly, available for under $15 at many online stores. The following three online retailers sell kits and replacement screens for many different cell phone models:

Repairs Universe
Phone Parts USA

Option 2: Sell your cracked screen cell phone

The second option is to sell your cracked screen cell phone, and like screen repair there are multiple ways to do it. The most popular ways to sell are via trade-in/buyback companies and on the private market.

Selling to trade-in/buyback companies

Many online companies are interested in purchasing used cell phones, even if they have broken screens. These companies either recycle the parts or, more often, they repair the phones and resell them for a profit. You can instantly compare trade-in/buyback offers from dozens of buyers on The process typically works like this:

you compare trade-in/buyback offers and select the offer that makes the most sense to you
you complete the transaction on the buyer's website
the buyer sends you a shipping label or a complete shipping kit
you send your phone in to the buyer, who verifies its condition
the buyer releases payment

It's important to check each buyer's payout policies before you decide which to sell your phone to. Some buyers pay via check, money order, PayPal, or direct deposit; while others pay in store credit. Nearly all buyers cover shipping costs, but payout time frames vary.

Even broken cell phones have value, often more than one might expect. An iPhone 5 with a cracked screen can be sold to buyback companies for as much as $125, for example, while a Galaxy S4 with a cracked screen could command as much as $70. At those rates, selling your broken phone will go a long way toward paying the subsidized price of a new phone.

Selling to trade-in/buyback vendors is the most convenient method, since you can complete your entire transaction on your computer, tablet, or other device; and all you have to do is ship your phone and wait for payment. Plus, because you're declaring your phone's condition to be “broken,” there's little chance a buyer will give your phone a lower valuation, which could potentially delay payment.

Selling on the private market

Without doubt, the private market will pay more for your cracked screen cell phone than trade-in/buyback companies; however, the difference is often negligible for broken phones. lets you identify the private market value for your phone, and reveals that the value of a cracked screen Galaxy S4 on the private market is only $6 more than what buyback vendors are willing to pay. At the same time a broken iPhone 5 is worth $38 more on the private market, so it's worth investigating the actual private market value of your phone and comparing it to buyback offers before you sell.

The major drawbacks to selling on the private market are:

no guarantee of sale, whereas trade-in/buybacks are instant transactions
potential listing fees on Ebay and Amazon (though Craigslist is free)
the hassle of haggling over price and having to meet an unknown buyer
potential safety issues, as criminals could scheme to steal your phone or worse

Thus, while you could potentially make more money by selling your cracked screen cell phone on the private market you might also have to wait weeks or months before you're able to find a buyer you can trust.

Should you repair or sell your cracked screen cell phone?

It's helpful to compare each option in order to make a choice that best fits your specific situation. The following table helps you compare different repair and sales options for your cracked screen cell phone.

Warranty Repair Manufacturer Repair Mail-In Repair On-site/Kiosk Repair DIY Repair Trade-In/Buyback Sale Private Market Sale
Price/Payout Low High High High Low Average payout High payout
Speed Slow Slow Moderate Fast Fast Fast Potentially slow
Convenience Moderate Moderate Moderae Good Moderate Excellent Moderate

Determine which attributes are most important to you, then make a selection by using the table to find the method best suited to those attributes. You also need to consider the cost of a new phone when selling; that is to say, would you rather have your used phone repaired or would you rather have a new phone purchased, in part, by the proceeds from selling your phone?

Ultimately, choosing whether to repair or sell your cracked screen cell phone is your decision to make; when you analyze the pros and cons of each option you can make an educated choice the best fits your specific situation.