- Apple’s iPhone 14 features a back glass that can be more easily replaced than previous iPhones.
- Older iPhones required the screen to be removed even if the back glass was the only broken component.
- The iPhone 14 Pro doesn’t benefit from the same design change and still requires the screen to be removed for back glass replacements.
The iPhone 14's back glass can be more easily replaced than older iPhone models, making it quicker—and potentially cheaper—for repair shops and individuals to fix.
Previous iPhones required repair specialists and novices alike to remove their screen and other components just to access the back glass. In fact, replacing the back glass involved replacing much of the iPhone’s housing, which added complexity and cost to the procedure. With iPhone 14, that’s no longer the case, and the back panel can be removed individually to make for a less costly repair.
“Users who cracked their back glass always had to pay a steep price either in repairs or even if they had a service contract, they still had to give up their iPhones until the repair was complete,” technology analyst Jeff Kagan told Lifewire via email. “The easily and quickly replaceable back glass is a winner. Users can bring it to an Apple store or a third-party store and get repairs done quickly.”
iPhone 14 Repairability
The iPhone 14 hasn’t been available for long, but Twitter already has examples of people who broke their new phone’s back glass—some on launch day. For those people, getting their iPhone repaired quickly and easily is an improvement over previous models. Disappointingly, the iPhone 14 Pro models aren’t thought to benefit from the same easy repair.
For people with base iPhone 14, however, experts agree that the move is a positive one.
“This is huge—be it a conscious, repair-focused decision or a happy side effect of other changes. In any case, wow. Great work, Apple,” digital media creator and smartphone expert Quinn Nelson said on Twitter.
And while iPhone 14 Pro models don’t have the same back glass repairability, they do have one improvement—TechCrunch editor-in-chief Matthew Panzarino noted in his review that the Face ID camera no longer needs to be replaced when swapping out a broken screen, a change he believes will reduce the cost of such work.
Most notably, repair experts iFixit recently gave the iPhone 14 a repairability score of 7/10, the best it has awarded Apple’s smartphone in six years, thanks in part to that back glass being held in by just two screws and a single cable.
A Complicated Repair History
Apple hasn’t always been one for making repairs easy for customers or third-party repair shops. With 2021’s iPhone 13, for example, it was discovered that Face ID authentication no longer worked following a screen replacement. The move meant that repair shops couldn’t replace iPhone 13 displays without breaking Face ID, a vital feature. Apple later backtracked, releasing a software update that allowed third-party shops to install displays without issue, giving consumers more choice about where to get a repair done.
The easily and quickly replaceable back glass is a winner.
Apple later announced Self Service Repair, a program that allows people to buy official parts for iPhones rather than use non-genuine alternatives. Apple also gives customers the option of hiring tool kits to help with their repair, while several Macs have also been added to the program.
However, some people who have tried to use the program have had poor experiences. One report by The New York Times noted that its lead consumer technology writer had to place a $1,210 hold on their credit card to hire the equipment required to fix his iPhone. “How hard can it be?” he asked. His experience details a complicated process fraught with problems. Could iPhone 14 repairs be less problematic?
With the iPhone 14, repairs might be headed in a different direction. The new models haven't yet been added to Apple's Self Service Repair program, but the indications are that once it is, simple repairs could be more successful than when performed on older handsets.
"There are no drawbacks I can see," Kagan said when asked about Apple's new back glass approach with the iPhone 14 models. "This is Apple stepping up to the plate and taking better care of its customers… finally."
Time will tell whether Apple will choose to improve things further with next year's iPhones.