Apple’s iPhone Warranty Now Excludes Hairline Cracks

iPhone falling on pavement cracked screen Credit: Ali Abdul Rahman
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If you’ve ever suffered a small hairline crack on the screen of your new iPhone or Apple Watch, you may have breathed a sigh of relief when you discovered your local Apple Store was willing to fix it under warranty at no charge. However, that additional grace may soon be a thing of the past.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple has sent a memo to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) advising that single hairline cracks will no longer be covered under Apple’s warranty. Instead, these will be considered “accidental damage,” requiring users to either pay up or hope they have an AppleCare+ plan.

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While it was never widely publicized, Apple has long covered single hairline cracks under warranty, presumably on the assumption that everyday stresses and manufacturing problems could cause this issue on a screen that wasn’t entirely up to snuff. However, Apple would repair or replace iPhones with this problem regardless of how the crack occurred, as long as there were no other signs of visible damage or a clear impact point that caused it.

I experienced this in 2010 with my three-day-old iPhone 4, which decided to take a bounce off the pavement after slipping out of an iPhone 3GS case that I was using as a stopgap during a time when legitimate iPhone 4 cases were hard to come by. Fearing that I’d be facing an expensive repair bill (AppleCare+ wasn’t a thing back then), I was pleasantly surprised when my local Apple Store swapped it out for an entirely new iPhone 4 under warranty.

At the time, the Apple Genius examined the iPhone very closely, to the extent of looking at the screen from several angles under an LED light. While he didn’t go into detail on where the lines were drawn, he did tell me that I was fortunate the screen hadn’t shattered entirely, as he wouldn’t have been able to replace it under warranty in that case.

This policy change won’t be a serious issue for those who opt for AppleCare+ coverage. Single hairline cracks will now cost the same as any other kind of accidental screen damage (such as a wholly shattered screen), but the $29 fee isn’t too onerous.

It’s certainly much better than the $379 you’ll pay to get your screen replaced on an iPhone 15 Pro Max. That drops to a less pricey $129 for the iPhone SE, but that’s still not a small amount of money.

Iphone Cracked Error 53

This policy change is another reason to invest in AppleCare+ for your new iPhone or Apple Watch, but realistically, you were rolling the dice even under the old policy. Getting only a single hairline crack from a drop or other impact is rare, and it’s even less likely you’d have that happen with no other visible signs of damage. That’s why Apple typically covered it under warranty on the assumption that it was a defect in the screen rather than damage caused by the end user.

The good news is that this only applies to the iPhone and Apple Watch, at least for now. Single hairline cracks on iPads and MacBooks may still be covered under warranty, although it’s still entirely at the discretion of the service technician, so your mileage may vary.

Apple hasn’t said why it’s making this change, but it suggests that the company believes that its latest glass formulations are immune to defects that would cause single hairline cracks. Apple’s standard iPhone warranty is only one year, and Apple has been using Ceramic Shield glass in all of its iPhones except the iPhone SE since 2020. However, even the 2022 iPhone SE boasts tougher glass than its predecessors. That’s likely also the case for the latest Ion-X and Sapphire glass used on the current Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models.

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