Touch Screen Scratch Removal and Prevention

Cole Kruper writes:

I recently bought an iPad, and to make a long story short, I dropped it. Thankfully, the screen didn’t shatter, but the screen does have some pretty nasty and deep scratches on it from the sand that was on the floor. If I were to take it to an Apple Store, do you think that it will replace it? Or will Apple just say it’s my fault (which it is) and tell me that I’ll have to either pay to replace the screen, or just to live with it?

So, if you can give me any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. If you have had to go and replace your iPad, or any other Apple device, please let me know what your experiences were like. Last, is this even a possibility, or just a dream?

Also, I didn’t purchase AppleCare with this iPad.

Screen ProtectorI’m sorry to hear about your scratched iPad screen. I haven’t had a lot of experience personally with this issue, though I can tell you the fix is a bit more detailed than smoothing over scratched glass. Capacitive screens are a lot more sensitive to surface issues than regular displays due in part to the method these devices use to detect the location of contact. Smoothing over the glass might resolve the visual issues, but using the wrong product can result in a loss of accuracy and potentially a complete lack of responsiveness.

There are products on the market that allege to fix the problem, but I wouldn’t trust them without significant research and customer testimony. There are even some claims that you can buff out a scratch without a noticeable loss in performance, but that also isn’t recommended by a great deal of do-it-yourself types out there.

Not purchasing AppleCare may hurt your pocketbook in this case. Damage caused accidentally isn’t covered outright, but the repair (screen replacement in most cases) could be done at a discount if you were indeed under AppleCare. You might be paying full price for the repair out of pocket, but that’s up to the Apple Genius at the Genius Bar to determine.

Alternatively, you can easily find a local repair shop that does screen replacements for iPads and iPhones. They’re not incredibly cheap either, especially if you have a Retina display. You also could lose your warranty unless that shop just happens to be one of very few that are authorized by Apple to perform repairs without voiding warranties.

Perhaps one of the best tips I could pass along is to use a screen protector, even if the screen is already scratched. A good, thick screen protector can actually make scratches less visible to the user in addition to protecting the screen from additional damage. If it’s a choice between that and replacing the screen, I’d go with the screen protector almost always.

To prevent damage in the future, buy a case and/or be very careful about where you set it. Even if you’re gently placing the iPad on a rough surface, you could introduce scratches and other damage the moment you pick it up or shift it even slightly.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.