Appledystopia: Independent Technology News

How to Replace Your Apple Watch Screen

published by Rachel Gold
January 22, 2023 at 1:58 p.m. PST
  • The Apple Watch launched in mid-2015 and quickly dominated the wearables industry.
  • There are numerous Apple Watch models, with some extravagant designs created by Hermes.
  • The Apple Watch features a durable screen made from Sapphire or Ion-X glass.
  • If you crack your Apple Watch screen, it’s expensive to repair, as Apple replaces it with a new one.

What is the Apple Watch?

This section is for those completely unfamiliar with the Apple Watch. If you’re already knowledgeable about this device, feel free to skip to the next section.

The Apple Watch is a smartwatch. It lets users quickly access information at a glance and complete simple tasks without using their iPhone. For example, if you want to answer an email, text, listen to music, or even surf the web, you can do all of this on an Apple Watch.

You must own an iPhone to use an Apple Watch. The only exception is that one can configure an Apple Watch for a family member, such as a child or older adult. Although they won’t need an iPhone, you must manage their watch with your Apple smartphone.

Even though the Apple Watch requires an iPhone for setup, a cellular model can be used autonomously after configuration. This is ideal for a runner or outdoor athlete, as you can leave your bulky iPhone at home.

If you need to call for help or buy some post-workout refreshments, you can do this all on your cellular Apple Watch without an iPhone. Actually, the standard (non-cellular) Apple Watch can make ApplePay payments without an iPhone. But if you’re in an emergency and need to call for help, only a cellular Apple Watch can do this without an iPhone nearby.

The first smartwatch debuted in 1976. Dubbed the Pulsar Time Computer Calculator, this fancy 18-karat gold timepiece cost a whopping $2100 back in 1976 (the same year Apple was founded). All it could do was display time and handle simple arithmetic calculations. Its buttons were so small it required a stylus to operate.

Apple was wise to wait almost 40 years to debut its smartwatch. The Apple Watch was a latecomer to the wearables market. The Android world already beat Apple by a few years, with Microsoft creating some of the first modern, intelligent timepieces.

Before entering the wearables market, Apple had to wait for better display, battery, and chip technology. Some complain that Apple isn’t innovative because many of its products come out after others have been on the market for years.

The iPhone was the first true smartphone, but the Apple Watch wasn’t the first smartwatch. Sometimes Apple is amazingly innovative. Other times, they perfect existing technologies, such as wearables.

The Apple Watch’s success is clear. Everywhere you go, you see people wearing an Apple Watch. Samsung and Google make fine smartwatches but haven’t gained traction of Apple’s wearable.

At the end of the day, a smartwatch is jewelry, which is fashion. Samsung and Google aren’t considered fashionable. The geek chic fad was short-lived and, in my experience, was never really a thing.

Rumors are that Apple will soon debut an augmented reality (AR) headset. Given the bulky and impractical virtual reality (VR) headsets already on the market, Apple’s product may hit the sweet spot.

It may be that people don’t want to immerse themselves in virtual reality. Instead, they may prefer to live in the real world, with some augmentation — interactive graphical overlays.

Perhaps a future Apple Watch will be an illusion. Maybe Apple’s AR headset will project an Apple Watch onto your wrist. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Apple hasn’t stopped improving its smartwatch, with the Apple Watch Ultra being its latest and greatest model. This new Apple Watch comes standard with a cellular connection. It’s capable of withstanding cold temperatures and deep water.

The Apple Watch Ultra has already disrupted the dive computer industry. These expensive, wearable computers were the mainstay of divers requiring information on depth and time. For much less, one can buy a much more compact Apple Watch Ultra, with functionality superior to most dive computers on the market today.

The Apple Watch is a fantastic device. Let’s take a look at its remarkable screens and what to do if yours breaks and requires replacement.

What is the Apple Watch Screen Made Of?

Wristwatches take a lot of hard knocks. Although you could damage your Apple Watch’s screen if it falls off a table, you’re most likely to damage it while it’s on your wrist. Simply knocking your wrist against any hard surface could crack or scratch an Apple Watch screen.

This is why watchmakers use quality materials when fabricating timepieces. The face of a watch is often called the “crystal” because of its high-quality materials.

Apple constructs its smartwatch screens from two different materials– Saffire and Ion-X glass. Saffire glass is more expensive; thus, Apple uses this for its high-end watches with stainless steel and titanium cases. Ion-X glass isn’t as costly or durable, so Apple uses it for the aluminum models.

Of course, even the Apple Watch Ultra can break. If you crack your Apple Watch’s screen, you can have it fixed. You can do it yourself, but it’s not easy. We recommend taking or sending it to Apple for service, as the company will replace the watch and recycle the broken one.

Can I Replace My Apple Watch Screen Myself?

You can replace the Apple Watch screen (crystal) yourself, but it’s not easy. We don’t recommend it because most people will need to buy tools, and it’s possible that you could damage your Apple Watch.

Nonetheless, if you have the tools and feel confident (or curious), iFixit has instructions on how to replace your Apple Watch screen. Since the Apple Watch is glued together, this is rated as a difficult repair job. Even Apple doesn’t do this. They just give you a new smartwatch and recycle the old one.

There’s a reason why Apple gives you a new Apple Watch instead of replacing the crystal. The process is very involved and time-consuming, and you could end up with a damaged smartwatch.

Apple manufactures new Apple Watches in a factory with a lot of automation. It’s simply more cost-effective to replace your broken Apple Watch and harvest its components to put in another refurbished model.

Remember: the Apple Watch is dust and water-resistant. If you’re trying to repair it yourself, it may not offer these same protections if you damage your watch while trying to fix it. For this reason, along with cost and convenience, we recommend sending your Apple Watch in for service if you crack the screen.

How to Replace Your Apple Watch Screen

Replacing your Apple Watch screen is as easy as contacting Apple and shipping your watch in a supplied box with prepaid postage. You don’t need the original packaging. Apple will send you safe and secure packaging so that your Apple Watch will arrive at repair facilities without further damage.

The easiest way to replace your Apple Watch screen is to take it to the Apple Store. They’ll handle everything, and you’ll probably walk out with a new Apple Watch. Of course, not everyone lives near an Apple Store. Also, Apple Store visits are often time-consuming.

If you want to have your Apple Watch screen replaced the fastest way, make an appointment with an Apple Genius at your local Apple Store. That way, you won’t have to wait for help.

If you don’t live near an Apple Store or don’t have time to deal with it, there’s an easier way. Apple can send you a box with prepaid shipping so you can send in your Apple Watch for repair. We recommend this method because it’s the easiest and best for the environment, as it saves two round trips to and from the Apple Store.

Here are step-by-step instructions for replacing your Apple Watch screen:

  1. Open a browser and navigate to the Apple Watch repair page. The Apple Watch repair page appears.
  2. Scroll down and click or tap on the Get Service button. A web page appears inquiring about repair specifics.
  3. Tap or click on “Repairs & Physical Damage”. A list of repair topics appears.
  4. Tap or click on “Cracked or broken display.” The webpage refreshes, showing a message to “See your support options.”
  5. Tap or click on the Continue button. A web page with support solutions appears.
  6. Click on “Send in for Repair.” A new webpage loads, prompting you to enter your Apple ID.
  7. Enter your Apple ID and follow the instructions to finalize your repair case.

That’s it. Apple will send you a box to send in your Apple Watch. The entire process takes about a week; however, some have experienced much longer wait times.

How Much it Costs to Replace Apple Watch Screen

Replacing your Apple Watch’s screen is very expensive. In the best-case scenario, if you have AppleCare+ coverage, it will cost between $69 and $79, depending on your model. Without AppleCare+ coverage, screen replacement prices range from $159 to $800.

You can see why people attempt to fix their Apple Watch themselves. The iFixit repair kit only costs $69. But it’s a challenging repair, and chances are you may damage your Apple Watch in the process.

Even Apple doesn’t attempt to repair its own smartwatch. They recycle the broken one and replace it with a new one. That’s why it costs so much. They don’t repair it. Apple replaces it with a new one and removes the components from your old one.

Some parts, such as the battery, may be unusable. It also takes effort to strip the components of your old Apple Watch. This is why it’s so expensive to replace your Apple Watch screen.

How to Protect Your Apple Watch’s Screen

Given that it costs a small fortune to replace your Apple Watch screen, you may want to take good care of it.

One of the easiest ways to care for your Apple Watch is to wear a long sleeve shirt that covers your smartwatch most of the time. If your Apple Watch is under your shirt cuff, accidentally banging it against a wall, desk, or other hard surface probably won’t break it.

Every Apple Watch model also has a wide array of screen protectors and cases. They’re remarkably inexpensive and will likely protect your Apple Watch from costly repairs. This is a good option if you’re accident-prone and don’t have AppleCare+ coverage.

Of course, AppleCare+ is one of the best options for protecting your Apple Watch. The problem is, between the extended warranty’s cost and the screen replacement fee, you may be paying a lot. We recommend AppleCare+ coverage for only the most expensive Apple Watch models.

For example, an Apple Watch SE costs $49 for two years of AppleCare+ coverage. If you crack the screen, replacing it will cost $69. That’s $118. A new Apple Watch SE costs $239 or less. Sure, there’s over a hundred dollars difference, but the extended warranty expires two years after purchase. What if you break your Apple Watch SE after two years? You’re out $49 for AppleCare+, and you must pay almost full price for a replacement.

Needless to say, a screen protector or case are wise investments for the clumsy. Personally, I don’t use a case or screen protector for my Apple Watch, but I also wear it rarely. I got it for a huge discount, so if it breaks, I will accept it and probably buy a new one.


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