iPhones break. The screen might smash when it slips from your hand; you might drop it in the toilet (if so, take a look at
How to fix a wet iPhone); or the battery might just start draining more quickly than you’d like. It’s happened to the best of us.
Whatever has gone wrong with your device, the big question is this: “Will Apple replace my broken iPhone for free?”
In this article we help you to find out. We explore the insurance and replacement programmes that are available, your legal rights, and the various options you’ve got for each kind of damage or mishap that may have afflicted your smartphone.
You may also have heard that Apple doesn’t allow third-party iPhone repairs – which may anger you if you wish to keep the cost of a repair down to a minimum. In this article we mention two cases where Apple’s been seen to deter customers from third party replacements: read more about the
issues relating to screen replacements and
battery replacements below.
However, Apple’s stance on third-party fixes has changed over time, and it has begun to let more third-party stores mend iPhones, even providing the parts and training necessary. But these repairs could still invalidate your warranty or mean that your iPhone doesn’t qualify for a replacement should it become part of an
Apple repair programme at a later date.
If you’d prefer a DIY approach, take a look at our guide to the
Best tools for repairing & upgrading Macs & iPhones.
Should Apple replace or mend your iPhone?
It’s actually quite unusual to expect a company to replace a product when you break it. But when it comes to the iPhone, people seem to have high expectations, either because they spent so much on the phone in the first place, or because when you sign up to a contract for a year or two you expect the phone to last the journey.
Your likelihood of getting a replacement iPhone – or at least a fix – depends in part on whether your iPhone is in warranty, is part of a recall, or if you have insurance.
Apple offers its own insurance called
AppleCare+ in the UK and US. Apple’s coverage costs from £79/$79 for the iPhone SE to £199/$199 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max for two years of cover. If you have this insurance Apple will replace or fix an iPhone that has suffered accidental damage. You only get two chances for a replacement – and there’s a chance you’ll be charged an excess fee too – £25/$29 for screen damage and £79/$99 for other damage. (And in the US $149 for theft and loss).
You don’t have to pay Apple for insurance though. You may already have insurance that covers your belongings, or you may choose to take out phone insurance from another provider. For more information about whether to take out iPhone insurance read our article:
Is iPhone insurance worth it? We also help you decide
which iPhone insurance policy is best for you and we also compare
AppleCare+ vs phone insurance to find out which is better.
Even without insurance there is still a chance that the problem you are encountering is commonplace. In that case there is a chance that Apple has a free repair or replacement programme. Take a look in our
Apple replacement programmes article to see if your issue is covered by that.
But what if your iPhone isn’t part of one of these replacement programmes, and you haven’t got insurance or warranty coverage? Can you expect Apple to replace your iPhone for free? To answer this question there are a few other things that need to be considered.
What are your legal rights?
First things first: if you’ve only had your iPhone for a year or two there are actually laws that may mean Apple, or the company that sold it to you, have to replace your iPhone.
If you’re going to exercise your consumer rights it’s worth giving Apple’s warranty conditions the once-over, along with the legal requirements Apple would have to abide by in the UK. (There are likely to be similar rules in the US and elsewhere).
What does Apple’s warranty include?
Every iPhone comes with complimentary telephone technical support for 90 days from your iPhone purchase and a one-year limited warranty.
Specifically, Apple’s warranty covers the following: “Apple warrants the Apple-branded iPhone, iPad or iPod hardware product and accessories contained in the original packaging (“Apple Product”) against defects in materials and workmanship when used normally in accordance with Apple’s published guidelines for a period of ONE (1) YEAR from the date of original retail purchase by the end-user purchaser (“Warranty Period”). Apple’s published guidelines include but are not limited to information contained in technical specifications, user manuals and service communications.”
How to get a Mac repaired.
What doesn’t the warranty include?
While the Apple warranty means that your iPhone is covered for a year from the day you purchase it,
Apple states that its Limited Warranty for iPhone excludes coverage for “damage resulting from accident, disassembly, unauthorized service and unauthorized modifications.” The warranty may also be void if the Liquid Contact indicator in your product has been triggered.
Apple states in the legal document that the warranty does not apply in the following cases: “(a) to consumable parts, such as batteries or protective coatings that are designed to diminish over time, unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports; (c) to damage caused by use with another product; (d) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, liquid contact, fire, earthquake or other external cause; (e) to damage caused by operating the Apple Product outside Apple’s published guidelines; (f) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”); (g) to an Apple Product that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple; (h) to defects caused by normal wear and tear or otherwise due to the normal aging of the Apple Product, or (i) if any serial number has been removed or defaced from the Apple Product.”
However, Apple does note that even an iPhone that is ineligible for warranty service may be eligible for Out-of-Warranty (OOW) Service (for a price). That is as long as it meets the requirements of the OOW service. Certain damage is ineligible for OOW service notes Apple, including: “Catastrophic damage, such as the device separating into multiple pieces, and inoperability caused by unauthorized modifications.”
What does AppleCare+ include?
Apple sells AppleCare+ protection to extend the warranty support that comes with your iPhone to two years. You have to purchase this within 60 days of your iPhone purchase.
AppleCare+ provides expert technical support, up to two years of additional hardware coverage and up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage in each of the two years. In addition to being able to take the iPhone into an Apple Store to be fixed or replaced, under AppleCare+ it is possible to get an express replacement service.
The cost of AppleCare+ varies depending on which model of iPhone you’ve got, from £79/$79 for the iPhone SE to £199/$199 for the iPhone 12 Pro or Max.
Under AppleCare+ you are able to drop or accidentally damage your iPhone and get it replaced twice in each of the two years. There may be other insurance plans that will replace your iPhone more times should anything happen to it so it is worth shopping around. Read:
How to pick the best iPhone insurance.
With AppleCare+ you also get additional hardware coverage that covers the battery (battery depletion of 50 per cent or more from original specification) and the included USB cable and power adapter that came with the iPhone.
Also worth considering: you may not even need the second year’s additional coverage. Apple emphasises that its One-Year Limited Warranty and AppleCare+ Protection Plan benefits are in addition to rights provided under consumer law. (This is because
Apple has got in trouble with various courts around Europe for selling two years of coverage without making it clear to customers that there are local laws that may give them sufficient coverage anyway).
We examine the question of
What is AppleCare Plus, and is it worth it? in a separate article.
What do consumer laws say about broken iPhones?
Apple notes the following on its website: “When you purchase Apple products, European Union consumer law provides statutory warranty rights in addition to the coverage you receive from the Apple One-Year Limited Warranty and the optional AppleCare Protection Plan.”
This EU Consumer Law ensures that you will receive free repair or replacement coverage for defects present when you take delivery (Apple’s warranty includes defects arising after you took delivery). The key message here is that if a defect was present when you took delivery (such as a faulty antenna) the device should be repaired or replaced. Replacement of a device that had a fault when you bought is not limited to two years; it could be even longer. You’re first point of contact should be the seller, which may or may not be Apple.
Consumers in the UK have the right to ask the retailer to replace or repair any faulty item for up to six years after an item is purchased (five years in Scotland). The only drag is you may have to prove that the fault was present when you bought the item and not something that was the result of normal wear and tear.
UK Specific information about the Sales of Goods Act from 1979 can be found
here. The act indicates that consumers can expect that goods will be: as described; of a satisfactory quality; fit for the purpose made known.
This final clause is significant if your fault wasn’t there when you bought the iPhone. Chances are you bought your iPhone on a contract, if this is the case you could go back to your mobile network provider and argue that the iPhone failed to meet the terms of the contract due to the fault.
You may even be able to use the Sale of Goods Act to argue that issues arising from wear and tear were due to a manufacturing defect, although to do this you may need an expert’s report from an engineer or a mechanic.
The main problem with the Sale of Goods Act is it’s much harder to get a refund after the first six months. During the first six months after the purchase, it is up to the retailer to show that any fault is down to the actions or misuse of the buyer, rather than an inherent fault in the product. After the first six months it’s up to the buyer to prove that the fault was pre-existing.
However, as well as the Sale of Goods Act there is also an EU directive that gives consumers extra rights. EU directive 1999/44/EC states that: “A two-year guarantee applies for the sale of all consumer goods everywhere in the EU. In some countries, this may be more, and some manufacturers also choose to offer a longer warranty period.”
Crucially a key point in this directive is that it doesn’t require the buyer to show the fault is inherent in the product and not down to their actions, unlike the Sale of Goods Act. There is more info
here, plus Which? has loads of information about what to do if you want to
return faulty goods.
Apple offers a service for out-of-warranty iPhones so while it is unlikely you can get it fixed for free you may be able to get a replacement for a knocked down price. In its out-of-warranty terms Apple states: “Certain damage is ineligible for out-of-warranty service, including catastrophic damage, such as the device separating into multiple pieces, and inoperability caused by unauthorised modifications. However, an iPhone that has failed due to contact with liquid may be eligible for out-of-warranty service.”
In other words if you drop your iPhone and it smashes into a thousand pieces Apple isn’t going to help you, nor will it help if you have drowned it in tea, however, if you turn up with a broken, out-of-warranty iPhone Apple may be able to offer you a replacement, at a price. For more information read:
Apple repairs – price guide and how long repairs take.
However, you may still be able to use one of the laws described above. For example, if your iPhone is not “fit for purpose” but you still have a year left on your contract go to your network and quote the Sales of Goods Act at them. If you believe that a fault in manufacturing has caused an issue that you are only experiencing now you may need to get help to prove this is the case, but you don’t need to worry if it’s been longer than two years since you bought the device.
How can I get Apple to replace my iPhone?
So, assuming you can use one of the reasons above to get Apple to replace or repair your phone, what do you need to do and what can you expect to happen?
It is our experience that returning an iPhone to Apple for a replacement is a stress-free experience and you may not need to follow any of the advice above.
Replacement guides for screen, battery, water damage, etc
Whether Apple will replace your iPhone depends on what caused the fault. What did you do? We look at the most common broken iPhone scenarios below:
Over the years Apple’s iPhones have become more and more waterproof, with the iPhone 12 Pro awarded the IP68, meaning that it should survive being underwater at a maximum depth of 6 metres up to 30 minutes. However, liquid damage is still not covered under warranty.
Apple has indicators that show if the iPhone has come into contact with water. Prior to December 2009 Apple had an iPhone Liquid Damage Policy that meant a warranty claim could be denied based “solely on a Triggered Headphone Jack LCI and or Triggered Dock LCI”.
The LCI is a Liquid Contact Indicator that is hidden in the device’s headphone jack and charging port and signals excessive exposure to water. If Apple discovered that this LCI is white it means that the paper has not come into contact with water, and therefore your warranty is intact. However, if it is pink, your warranty is void and you may face an expensive repair bill.
Apple was taken to court by a number of plaintiffs in the US who said they were denied service because the indicators in their devices had turned pink and that an issue with the Liquid Submersion Indicator might cause them to turn pink even if the device has not been submerged. Even tape maker 3M agreed that humidity could have caused the tape to turn pink, according to the lawsuit. Crucially, since December 2009 Apple has used the phrase “Liquid Contact Indicator” to describe the tape, which before that date it described it as a “Liquid Submersion Indicator”. Apple agreed to settle the case out of court.
The same issue raised its head in the UK back in June 2010, when BBC Watchdog highlighted that unhappy Apple customers were claiming poor after sales service when they returned faulty iPhones. Apple Store staff were insisting faults were the result of water damage, which voids the phones warranty, leaving customers little option but to buy a new iPhone, pay for the repair or shop elsewhere.
Watchdog suggested that Apple was failing in its duty to properly check customer claims that phones have stayed clear of water or liquid.
As a result of the compensation case in the US, you may find evidence that your iPhone has come into contact with liquid won’t necessarily mean that Apple will refuse to fix it as it might once have. With a little knowledge about compensation cases in America, and awareness of the Watchdog investigation, you may be able to persuade Apple that your iPhone was never submersed in water. Good luck.
No sound coming from speaker
Sometimes this is caused by fluff in the headphone port, which can make the phone think headphones are plugged in. This is easily rectified. Another potential fix is simply to do a software update.
However, you can rest assured that Apple will replace an iPhone if it’s a manufacturing defect.
Battery draining too fast
There were well publicised concerns about the durability of iPhone batteries a few years ago when Apple was found to be throttling iPhones (slowing them down) in order to prevent shutdowns caused by depleted batteries. Eventually the company was forced to pay out millions to affected customers:
Apple to pay $113 million in Batterygate scandal.
Following this scandal the company did offer a £25/£29 iPhone battery replacement scheme for affected iPhones, but that scheme is no longer running.
how to check iPhone battery health and find out when to replace it and we cover
how much it costs to replace an iPhone battery. You’ll also find more information in our
Apple repairs: price guide.
Apple explains on its website that the Apple one-year limited warranty includes replacement coverage for a defective battery. You can extend your coverage to two years from the date of your iPhone purchase with the AppleCare+ Protection Plan for iPhone. If during the plan’s coverage period, your iPhone battery drops below 50 percent of its original capacity, Apple will replace it for free.
If your phone is out of warranty, Apple offers a
battery replacement programme that costs £69/$69 for out of warranty iPhones (£49/$49 for models with the Home button). You may also have to pay for postage. This service takes about a week.
However, it may not be the battery at fault: there are a number of iPhone apps that suck the power out of your battery. The best advice is to close down apps that you don’t require. Read our guide to
improving battery life in your iPhone.
If your iPhone battery is faulty and you don’t fancy paying Apple’s prices you might decide to use a third party. However, you should be aware that back in August 2019 Apple was also attracting negative attention for prohibiting third party battery replacements. Following a third-party battery replacement an iPhone would display a warning that the battery requires Service, and also that it is “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery.”
According to iFixIt this message would also appear even if the replacement battery is an Apple battery.
It’s likely that Apple is displaying this warning to discourage third-party battery replacements that could be using second-hand batteries and unsafe batteries. News that the company is prohibiting what might be cheaper iPhone battery replacements in favour of replacements by Apple or Authorized Service Providers did not go down well.
While having a third-party battery replacement won’t stop your iPhone working – iFixIt has verified that Apple won’t start to throttle your iPhone or anything like that – it is probably advisable to go to Apple or an Apple Service Provider to replace your battery.
You can check if your local repair shop is an Apple Service Provider
If you want to get your iPhone battery replaced follow these steps:
- Go to the
Get Support page on Apple’s website.
- Choose your iPhone
- Select Battery & Charging
- Select Battery Replacement
- Choose from Bring in for Repair (you can also choose send in for repair, which might be your preferred option if you want to send it directly to Apple, but it might be out of your hands for longer that way)
- Enter your Postcode to find your options locally
iPhone won’t charge
It may well be the power cable at fault here. With past iPhones we have found that the wires bend and sometimes become exposed on the bit of flex before the plug. Your warranty covers the power cable and other accessories that came in the box, so Apple will replace it.
If you can get your hands on another power cable (a friend is bound to have one), try it out. If it is the battery at fault you’ll want to refer to the above section on battery replacement. For more advice read
How to fix an iPhone that won’t charge and
How to fast-charge an iPhone.
We’re pretty sure that
repairing a cracked iPhone screen is the number-one reason why people take their phone to the Apple Store to plead for a replacement. As with the battery, Apple has a system in place to arrange the repair of your phone, although it will cost you.
If you have the aforementioned AppleCare+ plan it will cost £25/$29 to replace a broken screen on an iPhone. But if it’s out of warranty things can start to get expensive – and that was before Apple put up its pricing.
Phone screen repair starts at £136.44/$129 for an iPhone 6, rising to £316.44/$329 for the iPhone 12 Pro Max (once it is out of warranty). You can see all the prices
You may well decide that it’s not worth the price of a repair and be seduced by Apple into paying for a new handset.
We’ve yet to hear from someone without AppleCare+ who was able to argue for a free screen replacement having smashed their iPhone. You may be able to find someone else to repair the screen for less, but you should be aware that letting someone else tamper with your iPhone would void your warranty.
If you’re considering a (cheaper) third-party screen repair, take note: there have been cases where third-party screens, and even official Apple screens fitted by other firms, stopped working. Specifically it seems that the True Tone feature that adjusts colour and brightness according to the lighting conditions – stopped working after a software update.
Apple won’t replace your screen for scratches and we very much doubt that you will be that put off by the scratches that you would pay £136 for a new screen. Next time you get a new iPhone you might want to consider using a screen protector.
We’ve got a selection of good options in our roundup of the
Best iPhone screen protectors.
I’ve previously replaced the screen and now the phone is broken. Will Apple fix it?
No. As we said above, if someone other than Apple replaced the screen, that will have voided the warranty.
I jailbroke my iPhone. Will Apple replace it?
Officially, no. But the question is, will Apple even know?
If you can
return your iPhone to factory settings before taking it to Apple you may be lucky enough to get it past the Geniuses. If you can’t do that, they will probably be able to tell that you
jailbroke your phone when they access it via the test system in store, and they will not be so keen on fixing it.
Apple has a statement on the matter of jailbreaking: “iOS is designed to be reliable and secure from the moment you turn on your device. Built-in security features protect against malware and viruses and help to secure access to personal information and corporate data. Unauthorised modifications to iOS (“jailbreaking”) bypass security features and can cause numerous issues to the hacked iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.”
As a result, Apple “may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorised software”.
Incidentally, we’ve got a tutorial showing
how to ‘unjailbreak’ an iPhone, but don’t depend on that fooling the Geniuses.
My iPhone keeps crashing
Sometimes it’s the software rather than the hardware at fault, and if your iPhone keeps crashing the chances are that it’s a software error.
Before taking the iPhone to an Apple Store, reset your iPhone and make sure you’ve updated your software. Another thing to check: how full is the memory? We have met people with iPhones so full of video and photos that they stopped working properly. A bit of a spring clean can do the world of good.
Another thing that can affect the performance of your iPhone is the apps you run on it. Is a particular app causing the crashes? Check to see if there is an update available for it. Sometimes an app that always worked well will suddenly stop working because Apple has made a change to iOS. Chances are you can fix the phone yourself if you follow this advice. Apple provides
troubleshooting advice on its website so you can follow the steps and see if that fixes the problem.
I did nothing! My iPhone just stopped working
See above. There are a few tests you might want to do before you take it to the Apple Store.
I didn’t get the iPhone from Apple. Will Apple still replace it?
If you feel that there is a fault and you are unhappy, you can take it back to the shop where you bought it for an exchange. However, a quick look around the web suggests that Apple is a lot more helpful when it comes to iPhone servicing and replacements than the mobile networks.
Apple provides the warranty so legally it is up to them to deal with the fault, so don’t feel that purchasing the iPhone elsewhere means you can’t take the broken iPhone to Apple.
How to get the iPhone fixed (or replaced)
Now you’ve established the likelihood of a replacement or a big bill, what are the steps you need to take to get your iPhone fixed or replaced?
How to get Apple to replace an iPhone
You can arrange to send your iPhone to Apple to service or you can take it into a store. You can just turn up at a Genius Bar and hope to be seen, but it’s
wise to make a reservation. Just select your closest store and pick the date and time.
Please make sure you back up the phone before you take it anywhere!
Start your support request at
getsupport.apple.com or call (44) 0844 209 0611. You’ll be greeted with a number of troubleshooting questions which may well solve your problem. Other options include Send in for a Service, Talk to Apple Support Now, Schedule a Call, Call Apple Support Later, iChat, Take in for Service, Contact Carrier. You’ll need to type in your serial number which you will be able to find in Settings > About.
Can I get a repair from a third party?
Back in December 2016 Apple officially added the option to book a repair slot at third party approved resellers. This could apply to you if you bought from a reseller or it is more convenient to try and solve a problem at a store near to you.
Note: Apple might officially be allowing this, but the company is choosy about the third-parties it trusts with your repair. As a result if you have a screen replaced by a third-party you might find True Tone stops working, and following a third-party battery replacement you may see a warning that the phone needs servicing.
Apple Support online, then select the product you have a problem with. From there, you select the problem from a list, and then you have the option to click to Bring in for Repair:
Once clicked, Apple’s official website offers location-based suggestions of third party resellers who are Apple Authorised Service Providers:
Can I join one of Apple’s free repair programmes?
Of course, but only a small proportion of Apple products qualify for a free repair – these will be cases where Apple acknowledges a fundamental problem with a particular product or model and announces general recall or free repair/replacement programme.
To see if you qualify for such a programme, read our article
Latest Apple product recalls and repair programmes.
How much will it cost to get my iPhone fixed?
If your iPhone is within warranty and eligible for repairs service is available at no charge for twelve months from the date of purchase.
Apple may refuse even the out-of-warranty replacement for an iPhone you’ve repaired yourself. But you might as well ask.
Read our complete guide to the
costs for Apple product repairs.
Will Apple replace my broken iPhone with a newer iPhone?
If you are under warranty then Apple should replace your broken iPhone, but it’s unlikely they would give you a newer model. You should also note that your replacement phone may not be new: it is likely to be refurbished. However, that will not affect your warranty.
iPhones that are repaired or replaced have a 90-day limited hardware warranty or assume the remainder of your standard warranty or AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone coverage, whichever is longer, states Apple.
Can I trade in a broken iPhone towards the cost of a replacement?
Yes – although whether Apple will accept the bargain, and the size of the discount you’ll get off the replacement, depends on the degree of damage.
Apple has announced that it will start to accept damaged iPhones in part-exchange when selling new ones. (The company previously offered part-exchange on older devices, but stipulated that they had to be in good working condition.) It isn’t yet clear precisely how damaged the iPhones can be and still qualify for the programme –
9to5Mac states that it applies to “iPhone 5s and iPhone 6/6 Plus units with damaged displays, cameras, and buttons within reason” – but we can’t imagine you’ll get much money off your next purchase if you’ve suffered truly catastrophic damage.
Nevertheless, if you’re desperate – if you dropped your iPhone on the floor and have no warranty or insurance coverage whatsoever – this could be a great way to salvage something from the situation.
In related news, the EU has voted on a
“Right to repair” bill that will avoid unnecessary electronic waste.