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How to Replace an LCD Screen

One of the most commonly experienced issues with cell phones today is broken screens. They drop without cases, wear over time, or lose their ability to recognize touch. Apple and other distributors supply screens, digitizers, and other replacement parts for those looking to replace the screen themselves.

What Are the Main Parts of an LCD Phone Screen?

Understanding the science and technology behind iPhones and similar screens can get both your touch screen, camera, and home button up and working again.

  • Glass: On the very outside of the phone, a thin piece of glass protects the digitizer below. It is thin enough to allow your finger's presence to be detected by the technology beneath, but also strong enough to not shatter when dropped.
  • Digitizer: The main communications piece of a touch screen, this transfers the electrical field between your finger and the hardware in the rest of your phone.
  • Retina LCD Screen: Depending on the model of your phone, some new screens also require LCD-specific parts for displaying denser pixels. This is typically the case for more modern and recent models.

Why Do Device Screens Break?

Although the glass used in touch screens is much stronger and specially manufactured, several factors related to our constant use lead to frequent screen replacement.

  • Physical Damage: The most common issue with broken displays and home buttons is damage from impact, heat, extreme cold, magnets, or moisture, which can disrupt the necessary electrical communication.
  • Faulty Settings: Software problems can occur, especially when multiple changes are made in the preferences of the phone itself. Returning the phone to its factory settings can fix this issue.
  • Malicious Apps: Though rare, some phone apps can purposely try to drain the power and sensitivity of a cell phone.

What Are Some Tips for Screen Replacement?

Though it's always safer to seek professional advice when replacing any part, it is possible to attempt the full assembly yourself. Since each phone is unique, full step-by-step instructions will vary. These general tips will help guide your replacement:

  • Tape Your Front Panel: Just after the breakage occurs, place clear tape over the full LCD to protect from splintering during replacement or usage.
  • Suction Cup Method: After removing necessary hardware, a small suction cup attached above the home button can ease the disconnection between the LCD front panel and the main section of the phone.
  • Replacement Kits: Some tools can help with the LCD replacement process, including for the iPhone 5S and similar models, whether authorized by Apple or not. These can help protect additional hardware such as your camera, backlight, home button, and touch ID technology. Spudgers, for example, are small plier-like tools for gently popping parts from the inner phone area.

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