Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max Repair Advice

Hi Everyone

My daughter bought an Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max 128GB in January 2021. The product had a 12 month warranty which is now expired. She was at the gym, had her phone in her bag, dropped a weight on the bag, and broke the rear glass on the phone.

You can see a photo of the damage here:!AnY_MS_mxIVKgfdZGYA7-hC4bY7rxQ

Apple Chermside quoted her $936 inc. GST to fix it. This seems ridiculous to me as you can buy the same phone second hand for not much more.

So I'm looking for an inexpensive repair solution. I visited AliExpress and saw that you can buy the rear glass for under $10. Is that (and a technicians time and labour) all that is required to fix the phone?

What am I missing here? Why is Apple so expensive?

Your advice is very much appreciated!


  • +1

    Why is Apple so expensive?

    Because the phone has an IP68 rating, which Apple would look to keep

    Your cheap repairer won't

  • +1

    The $936 is to replace the phone with another fully refurbished unit.
    The rear glass can’t be removed and glued back on without specialised, purpose built factory equipment

  • +2

    Yeah, it's not as simple as you might think.
    Still overpriced at Apple, but like the above two posters have said, it isn't as simple as swapping a piece out.

    Just get a case and forget about it.

    • Just get a case and forget about it.


  • +2

    Firstly, your warranty wouldn't have covered accidental damage anyway… there's no way dropping a weight on the phone would be considered a manufacturing issue, which is what warranties are supposed to cover.

    Around replacing the rear glass, I've been told it's not a simple procedure as a lot of the structure of the phone is in that back panel. The way I see it, you've got 3 choices:
    1) If the phone still works, put it in a hard shell case so you can't see the damage and it won't get worse (keeping in mind it will no longer be water proof, but at least it'll keep functioning)
    2) You can take it to a few of those mobile repair shops in the shopping centres to see how much they'd ask to fix it. Don't be surprised if they tell you it's risky and you can lose the phone if they attempt it.
    3) Buy a new phone and get AppleCare+ (which covers accidental damage) on the next one. It's a small fee per year, but worth it for things like an iPhone which is always out and about with you.

    I don't know how much it costs for that specific iPhone, but AppleCare+ on my $5399 MacBook Pro is $170 per year, which is totally worth it when you consider the cost of a major repair if it was dropped for example.

    • +2

      For that specific phone I pay Apple $8.49/month for as long as I want, no longer limited to 2 years. Well worth it in my opinion as it covers battery replacement as well.

    • +1

      Apple Care+ does

      Both AppleCare+ and AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss provide 24/7 priority tech support and additional hardware coverage from Apple, including up to two incidents of accidental damage protection every 12 months.

      With the fine print saying

      Each incident is subject to a service fee of A$45 for screen damage or back glass damage

      Two years of Apple Care+ plus $45 would be less than the official repair. I think theft and loss coverage is extra, but it doesn't seem you need that for accidental damage.

      • +1

        Yeah but you had to have taken out AppleCare+ within a few months of buying the device. Which I’m guessing OP’s daughter did not take out

        • Within 60 days I believe. Which is why I mentioned getting it on the next phone. As for refurbs, I don't know, they might offer AppleCare+ if they do the refurb swap out, that's something they can discuss with the shop.

          • @raziel2001au: I bought a refurb 12 inch MacBook and the battery conked out pretty quick and I was too lazy to bring it in for repair. Kinda annoyed because I actually liked that Mac.

    • 4) buy phone with a credit card that includes mobile phone insurance.

  • Thanks Everyone for your comments so far.

    My daughter's feedback is that she wants to get the phone fixed, but she wants to know if there's a way to do it without spending $936 at Apple Chermside.

    She doesn't want to post or courier the phone to an unknown person or company, so the repairer will need to be located in the Brisbane Northside if possible.

    • As I mentioned, take the phone to some of those mobile repair shops that are normally located in shopping centres. They usually fix displays for not too much, but a display replacement is a lot simpler than replacing the part of the phone that got damaged. As far as I know, the entire phone basically needs to be transplanted into a new housing, which is a lot of bits and pieces, and it's easy to break something along the way. Apple usually doesn't even bother, they'll just swap it out for a refurb and call it a day.

      • A lot repair shops do a horrible job replacing the back glass. They tend to scratch the edges and use really cheap replacement parts that don't stick on flat.
        Even with a laser machine you can do a bad job if you don't have steady hands as there is a very thin band that goes around the back frame and a slight scratch will show upon inspection.

        If I was you, I'd grab the refurb from Apple as you won't need to stress about warranty, coming back for another repair, ect.

        • I'm inclined to agree, I'm just mentioning the alternative as requested. Personally, I'd also go with the Apple refurb as their refurbs are usually like getting a new phone. They actually replace everything that can wear, so it will have a new battery, new case, new buttons, possibly a new screen as well.

  • +3

    Given the cost, better to just get a nice looking case if the only damage is aesthetic. As others have commented you're going to have a tough time finding a reasonable cost, good quality repair on back panel glass.

  • +1

    this is why people buy apple care.. at least you get 2 years out of it.

    • +1

      It's no longer time limited if you pay monthly or yearly…

      • Wow !! That’s amazing news. I thought it was always 2 years because they want you to upgrade.

  • +1

    Just buy a skin wrap for the phone if your daughter doesn't like cases. It's really not worth the money to get it fixed as it would be couple of hundred $$ minimum.

    With a skin the phone will look and feel great and you wouldn't even know the back glass is broken :)

    • Interesting. I'm not familiar with a skin wrap. What is it and where can she learn more and purchase it?

      • You have heaps choices on eBay and Amazon.

        I don't have recommendations as I prefer a clear case for my mobiles.

        Search for skin wrap for mobiles on YouTube and you can have a good idea what they are and how to install them :)

  • -1

    Ahahaha why it’s so expensive to replace? Because it’s glued so hard so you’ll spend hours just to remove the glass itself. 1 mm by 1 mm. And it’s with a proper tools. And you should do it carefully and not to damage wireless charging coil or you’ll spend another hour and additional $100 replacing it. OP you have access to ozbargain but no access to google or YouTube? Ehhhrrrr…
    “Inexpensive solution” - phone case
    “Inexpensive repair solution” - $10 backplate from Ali express, heating gun, heating pad, knowledge and time. A lot of time and patience.

    I’m not in that industry. Not anymore. But ffs, knowledge is the power.

  • Just wanted to give some additional information.

    Apple did not say that spending $936 will get her a fully refurbished unit. In fact they were quite specific. They said it covers the cost of the removal and replacement of the rear glass and the plate behind the rear glass. As the screen and outer rim frame are in perfect condition, these do not need to be replaced.

    Additionally, as I understand it, Apple charges very little for a new battery. Access to the battery compartment requires removing the rear glass and plate behind the rear glass. If it is possible to inexpensively replace the battery, then why is significantly more expensive to replace the glass and the plate behind the glass?

    • +1

      For the battery part, the battery is accessed by taking the front screen off, simply by unscrewing the two screws at the bottom of the phone and using a heatgun to unseal the adhesive for water resistance-ing. Then they unplug the display cables, take off the screen so the display isn't damaged and the battery is replaced. If it were the back glass, then they would have to break the whole thing as it is adhesived fully and not the surroundings of it like the front.

  • I dropped a weight on my iPhone 11 at the gym and the whole unit bricked. Wouldn’t even turn on at all. Youngblood at apple store said I’d have to claim on insurance. Then manager said they’d just replace at no charge under warranty as dropping a weight on it should just smash the glass, not render the whole unit inoperable.

    I was surprised but took the win.

  • Perhaps sell the smashed phone to Mobile Monster and take the $200 and buy a second hand one.

  • +3

    Hey there! So I not only used to do phone repair, am a registered Apple IRP technician, but now also run a training company that teaches people technical skills, some of those being phone repair. Been doing it about 5 years so I've got a bit of a background 😁

    Anyhow so to clear up some misconceptions in this thread, the $936 you've been quoted is for what's called a housing replacement. That is a back glass pre-attached to a new frame (that metal plate you mentioned is one-and-the-same as the whole frame) with a few smaller parts already installed, think things like charge port, buttons, antennae, etc. This is an Apple Official part (as it's done through them) and follows strict guidelines for the process. Those mentioning that Apple would try to maintain IP68 Water Ratings are misinformed, the new part comes with new adhesive regardless not to mention the fact that no phone manufacturer covers water damage under warranty so the rating is effectively meaningless anyway but I digress.

    Now this housing replacement can absolutely be done by people other than Apple (for significantly cheaper) however, with non-genuine Apple parts, i.e. Aftermarket. This then introduces uncertainty depending on what kind of repairer you go to as to whether they will honour issues that may arise from that (unlikely but possible through faulty parts, technician fault, etc.) but is still absolutely possible to do at less than $936.

    The other alternative which is what you've found online is to just replace the Glass Back component which is the only damaged part. Whilst it makes sense that the glass panel is only $10, the labour, tools and machinery required to do this job is not insignificant. As someone mentioned in the thread the back glass is adhered to the metal frame of the phone itself with several important components such as part of the charge port, the wireless charger, antennae, back floodlight, etc. being "wedged" or exposed between the frame and back glass. Now this adhesive isn't simple to remove as it is very heat and chemical resistant and the go-to way is to put the phone into a machine that uses a high-powered laser to essentially burn part of the adhesive away, avoiding those aforementioned components to maintain functionality. The glass then has to be removed which is still not an easy task as the adhesive still has a bit of grip regardless and there's the specific areas where the laser couldn't reach without risk of damaging the phone. The leftover adhesive then has to be scraped off to leave a perfectly clean surface as the Pro range's back glass has a certain foil effect which shows up very clearly if there's any debris or uneven surfaces beneath it when glued down.

    After all's said and done the phone has spent 30-60 minutes in a fairly expensive machine that not all repairers are likely to have then 60-120 minutes in clean up, time being glued and clamped down (varies depending on what kind of adhesive the store decides to use). It's not a simple or cheap job by any means, but is likely cheaper than a full housing replacement through Apple or an independent repairer. You're not likely to get away with getting this phone fixed for less than $200 to be perfectly honest with you.

    If you have any other questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer you.

    • Thanks very much for your feedback.

      I've since spoken to another person at Apple who has advised me that it "might be possible" to replace the rear glass for $599.00 through Apple.

      Not sure what "might be possible" implies.

      I saw videos of the laser technology on YouTube. Do you know of any repairers in Brisbane who have this equipment and offer a low-cost quality replacement?

      ie. Where would you go if it was your daughter?

  • This video will show you the complexities of trying to replace the rear glass - not easy for the novice.

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