If you’re a gloomy owner of an iPhone with a broken screen, you’ll be desperate to get it fixed fast. Not only is a shiny new iPhone with a smashed screen a sad sight, if you’ve a 6s using 3D Touch pushes on cracked glass, it could make the damage worse.

Don’t worry, you’re far from alone: any trip to an Apple Genius Bar reveals a horde of people with broken screens. Apple loves to build its iPhones out of glass, and its much-hyped Sapphire Glass technology didn’t work out.

On top of that, both the iPhone 6 and newer iPhone 6s models were made from slippery brushed aluminum, making them hard to grip. The result is a perfect nexus that leads to thousands of smashed screens.

If disaster strikes, and you’re left holding a cracked iPhone, you essentially have three options:

  • Take the phone to Apple and pay for a repair.
  • Use a third-party screen repair service.
  • Fix it yourself.
iPhone 6s with broken screen

An iPhone 6s with a cracked display. Using 3D Touch pushes can damage the display below

How much does it cost to repair an iPhone screen?

The amount Apple charges to replace a broken iPhone screen varies. These are the basic prices Apple lists for repairing iPhone screens.

  • iPhone 6s Plus: $149 / £126.44
  • iPhone 6s: $129 / 106.44
  • iPhone 6 Plus: $129 / £106.44
  • iPhone 6: $109 / £86.44
  • iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5: $129 / £106.44

These amounts are the charge for Apple to replace the glass screen and hand you your old iPhone back. But if Apple has to replace any other components, include the display that sits behind the glass, it will swap your iPhone out with a new replacement. However, in this instance it can charge you a whopping $299 to replace an iPhone 6s or $329 to replace an iPhone 6s Plus.

Ah, but not so fast. Apple staff have some leeway and have been known to replace phones for free, or at a reduced rate.

We recently took an iPhone 6s with a cracked screen to the Apple Store for replacement. Apple charged $129 (£99) for a complete device replacement (far less than the $299 / £239 listed on the Apple Store website). Indeed, this wasn’t a price listed anywhere on the website. Apple Staff told us that it was because Apple wasn’t replacing the screens on the iPhone 6s yet, as it was too new.

So taking your iPhone into the Apple Store, rather than going through the online process, is the way to go. Staff may give you a break on the charge, or at least have been instructed to charge a smaller amount.

Getting an iPhone repaired under AppleCare

AppleCare is Apple’s extended protection plan. With AppleCare, you get repair or replacement coverage subject to an excess fee (which is $99 for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus). You also get coverage for batteries that retain less than 80 percent of their original capacity. Coverage lasts for two years, and you get two incidents of accidental damage covered.

You can buy AppleCare+ within 60 days of getting your iPhone, and it’s a good idea if you plan to sell your iPhone. It’s not cheap though: AppleCare costs $129 for the iPhone 6s (or iPhone 6s Plus).

Remember that you’ll still have to pay the excess fee ($99) if you drop your iPhone and crack the screen.

Getting an iPhone repaired on a budget

Even if the Apple Store staff cut you a deal, they aren’t always the cheapest place to go to get an iPhone fixed. Especially if you’ve broken an iPhone 6 or older, as there are lots of spare parts around.

With so many cracked screens around (on both Apple and Android devices), there is a big market for replacing displays. Most major towns have repair stores, and there are lots of online services offering repair solutions.

Prices are typically around $100 (£75-100) for an iPhone model and $150 (£135-150)  for an iPhone 6 Plus. The glass itself only costs around ten dollars (a few £s), but you pay for the repair expertise. There are so many people offering to fix iPhone screens that you get a deal by shopping around.

However, none of the services we investigated are currently repairing the iPhone 6s. Our local repair shop told us they were having difficulty sourcing replacement screens (even Apple is replacing iPhone 6s devices rather than repairing the displays). Expect it to be around six months before third-party stores can fix iPhone 6s displays.

Note: Getting your iPhone screen replaced by a third-party service invalidates the warranty with Apple, although it may be worth it if you get a better deal, or your phone is outside the warranty.

DIY: Fixing an iPhone 6s screen

iPhone 6s display repair guide

The iFixit website has detailed instructions on how to repair the iPhone 6s. Getting a new display part can be challenging though

You can replace an iPhone 6s screen yourself, and it isn’t even as hard as you imagine (although it is fiddly and success will depend on your expertise at repairing gadgets). One website, iFixit.com is devoted to enabling people to repair old gadgets, and it scores the iPhone 6s as 7 out of 10 on a repairability scale (much higher than most Apple gadgets).

iFixit doesn’t currently have a guide to replacing the iPhone 6s display, although one user has uploaded a video guide to replacing the whole display – watching it is a good guide to how easy you’ll find the repair process.

At the moment, you run into the same problem as repair shops: there simply aren’t any iPhone 6s replacement screens available.

When the screens do become available, you will be able to get your iPhone 6s fixed at a repair shop, or do it yourself. Although it’s a lot easier than we imagined, it’s still a tricky and time-consuming process, and you might find it easier, and worth your while, to pay a repair store to do the process for you.

How crack prone is the iPhone 6s?

This video report by insurance brokers SquareTrade found that Apple had improved the bend issue of the iPhone 6, but the iPhone 6s was still prone to drops. Both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus failed its drop test, cracking when dropped on a pavement. Face down drops are the biggest risk, getting a 7 out of 10 for breakability from SquareTrade, although the phone is also susceptible to corner drops.

According to MIT’s Technology Review, Apple invested more than $1billion in its efforts to make screens out of tougher sapphire glass for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s. But a series of production problems meant that the process resulted in no usable glass, and the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s were built from Gorilla Glass (the same as earlier iPhones). Meanwhile, the design has become thinner.

“While Apple touts the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus as the most advanced iPhones ever, we still found them at the mercy of the most common of all problems – the accidental drop on a hard surface,” said Jessica Hoffman, vice president of global communications for SquareTrade. One thing is clear: you really should buy a case to protect your iPhone.