How can I get Apple to replace my smashed iPhone?
Did the screen of your iPhone smash when it slipped from your hand? Did you drop your iPhone in the toilet? (If so, take a look at How to save a drowned Apple iPhone.) Or perhaps the battery on your iPhone seems to be draining more than you'd expect it to. It's happened to the best of us, and of course the big question on your lips will be: "Will Apple replace my broken iPhone for free?"
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.
Obviously your likelihood of a replacement depends in part on whether you've got warranty or support coverage. Apple offers AppleCare+ protection in the UK, which means it will replace an iPhone that has suffered accidental damage. You only get two chances for a replacement, though, and it costs £79 - and there's a chance you'll be charged a £55 excess fee too.
You may have insurance. 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 here.
Finally, when a problem with an Apple product becomes particularly commonplace, there's a chance that Apple will institute a free replacement programme. Take a look in our replacement programme section 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 things that need to be considered.
This article is in three parts:
PART ONE: WHAT ARE YOUR 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.
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 detailed here.
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."
What doesn't the Apple 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 that telephone and warranty support that comes with your iPhone from 90 days to two years. You have to purchase this wothin 30 days of your iPhone purchase.
If you've already got AppleCare, you may have the original more limited version, but those who purchase AppleCare for their iPhone will now only have the option to choose AppleCare+, an extended service that provides expert technical support, up to two years of additional hardware coverage and up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage. It costs £79. In addition to being able to take the iPhone into the store, under AppleCare+ it is possible to get an express replacement service.
Under AppleCare+ you are only able to drop or accidentally damage your iPhone and get it replaced twice. Some point out that there are other insurance plans that will replace your iPhone more times should anything happen to it. You may want to consider this while deciding whether to pay your £79.
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 emphasizes 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).
What are the consumer laws I should know if my iPhone is broken?
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 (e.g. 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.
What if my out-of-warranty iPhone has developed a fault?
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 unauthorized 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.
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?
Having said that, 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.
PART TWO: WHAT DID YOU DO?
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:
I dropped my iPhone in a toilet/cup of tea/bath
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 claimed that they were denied service because the indicators in their devices had turned pink. They wanted to highlight a issue with the Liquid Submersion Indicator that Apple uses that might cause them to turn pink even if the device has not been submerged in water. 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 their 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.
The speaker doesn't produce sound
We have heard from a number of people who told us their iPhone speaker stopped working. In a couple of cases this was because there was fluff in the headphone port, which made the phone think that the headphones were plugged in. This was 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.
The battery is draining too fast
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% of its original capacity Apple will replace it.
If your phone is out of warranty, Apple offers a battery replacement programme that costs £55 plus a £7.44 shipping fee if required. 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. For example, we find that if we leave Words With Friends running in the background our battery will empty quickly. Best advice is to close down apps that you don't require.
For some extra help preserving battery, check: How to improve iPhone battery life.
My iPhone has stopped charging
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.
I smashed the screen
We're pretty sure that this 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.
Previously, Apple has charged £139 to replace a cracked screen (£146.29 if you use the mail order service). It is now repairing iPhone screens in-store for between £86 and 106, although this price may rise if the company finds anything else wrong with the handset that deems it as an “out-of-warranty repair”. If this is the case, the price jumps up to £236 for an iPhone 6 and £266 for an iPhone 6 Plus.
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.
See also: How to repair a cracked iPhone screen
The screen is scratched
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 £90 for a new screen. Next time you get a new iPhone you might want to consider using a screen protector such as this one from Tech21.
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. Unauthorized 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 unauthorized software."
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.
PART THREE: WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Now you've established the likelihood or a replacement or a big bill, what are the steps you need to take to get your iPhone fixed or replaced?
What do I need to do to get Apple to replace my 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 is 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?
As of December 2016 and first spotted by Macrumors, Apple has 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.
First, visit 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.
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.
For more information about whether to take out iPhone insurance read our article: Is iPhone insurance worth it?
We help you decide which iPhone insurance policy is best for you here.
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.