Suggestions for good quality iPad 2 digitizer glass replacement?

Discussion in 'iPad Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by verbage, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. verbage macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    Hi all,

    I need to replace the digitizer glass on an iPad 2 (the LCD still works fine, just the glass is shattered). Anyway, I am finding many different potential sources for this part. They range anywhere from US$30-150. So I am wondering if you have suggestions for a good quality source.

    After browsing these forums, I've seen that the first line of action would generally be to go to the Apple Store for replacement, but that is simply not an option for me financially. You see, I am somewhat of an unwilling owner of this device. I got a technology loan from work, and literally within couple of hours my kids had dropped the brand new device on the floor shattering the digitizer glass. Uggh. So I had to shell US$400 out of pocket to buy a replacement, and now I have the one with broken digitizer glass for me. So spending another US$300-350 for Apply to replace it is not really an option--I wasn't planning on buying one originally!!!

    So anyway, I am looking to go the cheaper route of replacing it myself. I realize it will not be perfect afterwards like it was delivered from the Apple factory, but again, I simply don't have the financial wherewithall to pursue a replacement directly through Apple.

    So I ask again, can anybody recommend a good quality source for the digitizer glass for an iPad 2 out of the seemingly many options that are available? Thanks in advance for any recommendations you may be able to provide!!!
  2. verbage thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    Well, I've gone ahead and purchased a replacement digitizer on eBay. After I get it installed, I'll provide some commentary on the replacement process, and the quality of the replacement. I'm not sure I'll be the best judge of quality, however, because I literally only had a few minutes with the stock original digitizer before my kids commandeered the device.
  3. verbage thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    replacement completed successfully!

    Just an update here about my positive results with this replacement.

    I ordered my replacement digitizer (via an eBay auction) from eBay seller "hudson_river_goods". The experience was completely positive--they shipped it immediately after the auction ended, and I received it three days later nicely packaged in a protective cardboard box. The digitizer came with protective cling plastic on both sides--great, this keeps it pristine and dust-free till the last moment. It also came with some pre-cut double-sided tape. While the tape itself was fine, the pre-cut shapes were not exact matches for the frame inside of my iPad 2. This is certainly not a deal breaker, but it did leave me scratching my head for quite a while trying to figure out how to best fit the shapes. I ended up using most of the pre-cut pieces, but did adjust a few for a better fit.

    I did the replacement yesterday afternoon with a nicely positive result. Really, for all intents and purposes, it looks like it just came out of the box. Only if you look carefully, and see the small dent in the case corner where it hit the tile floor, might you guess it was not original. Otherwise, the digitizer glass is nicely form fitting and flush--there are no gaps around it like I have heard some people report. This perfect fit was possible because after after removing the original digitizer, I spent probably an hour or so carefully cleaning away glass fragments and the original adhesive. If I had not done that, the new digitizer would have had to ride over this stuff, and it would not be perfectly flush.

    Anyway, here are some comments about the replacement operation that might help you out if you decide to give this a shot.

    1.) patience during all steps of the operation is absolutely critical; you could go fast, and you might end up with something functional at the end, but if you want a nice, tight, flush fit for the replacement, you simply have to dedicate the time to do a high quality job

    2.) I used a paint stripper heat gun on its low setting, and it took 5-10 minutes to heat up the iPad margins well; just keep going around the margins, and you'll start to feel the heat penetrate through; I waited till the back of the iPad got hot (not just warm) as this meant that the heat had definitely penetrated all the way through; you could certainly use a regular blow-dryer to do this, too, if you don't have a paint stripper heat gun

    3.) I used a suction cup (Harbor Freight item 46900) to develop an initial gap between the digitizer and case, and put an old credit card there to keep it open; this was important for me because I wanted to keep the plastic bezel that separates the digitizer glass from the aluminum frame; so I did not want to dig into it like some videos seem to suggest; some people have also suggested this plastic bezel is a guaranteed casualty during the replacement process; I do not agree with this--if you are very careful and patient, you can definitely save this, and have it essentially in perfect condition at the end

    4.) make sure you slowly, repeat slowly, pry up and pull away the digitizer; if you do this, it will come off in big chunks around the breaks; if you do it quickly, instead, it will shatter into bazillions of smaller pieces; as you pry up the glass, hold it at its tension point (i.e. before it breaks), and after a few seconds (sometimes more) the adhesive will yield; old credit cards work wonders to maintain your ground, and they do not damage the aluminum case; if you also slowly inch them along, you can maintain a constant tension on the glass that will allow the adhesive to yield; all of this is easier said than done--I admit my lack of patience got the better of me several times; this is not a critical problem if you do end up breaking it more--you will just have to spend more time later cleaning up the fragments

    5.) definitely do your work over a plastic sheet or similar because you will inevitably have lots of glass shards everywhere

    6.) if you want a perfectly flush fit for the new digitizer, you must meticulously clean out all the glass fragments and original adhesive; as I mentioned above, after removing the main chunks of the broken digitizer, I spent an hour or so with this fine scale cleaning; you basically have to gently scrape it off; I used some mini metal spatulas I got from Harbor Freight (item 34152) for this; if you are not willing to dedicate this time, you can do it faster, and you will probably end up with a functional machine; but the digitizer will probably not be nicely flush as it has to ride over this stuff

    7.) work out any dents in the aluminum case edges as they might prevent a perfect fit; and neither do you want the new digitizer glass flush with case; if so, any small knock or pressure will be delivered directly to the new digitizer, which could certainly cause future trauma; I used some needle-nosed pliers to gently work out the corner knock on my case; to protect the outside of the case edge from the pliers, use a credit card as a buffer

    8.) the four phillips head screws that hold down the LCD panel are pretty darn tight, and seem to have been set with a blue locking compound; so make sure you have the correct size screwdriver, or you will easily strip the heads; I was using a phillips "00" size, but I actually had to file down the point a bit to get good contact

    9.) the two tiny latches that hold down the digitizer cable are a bit tricky as they are pretty yielding; I was originally using something narrow to pop them up, but they felt like they might break; so instead I used a wider tool to distribute the pressure

    10.) do make sure you carefully tuck the digitizer cable into the appropriate nook in the case as much as possible; if not, you might not get a flush fit

    Altogether, the replacement cost was less than $45. The shipped digitizer cost $36 total, and the two Harbor Freight items I mentioned came out to $8.50 after a coupon on spatulas. The biggest cost was probably the time involved, which was a whole Saturday afternoon, but on and off in spurts.

    As far as I can tell, the replacement seems as good as the original. There are no dead spots, and it seems nice and smooth. If this happens to change in the future, I'll post an update.

    I do admit that the process had me feeling pretty bad at the beginning--it was like trying to pull apart a turtle's shell--the tablet definitely did not want to be opened! And then after having removed the big chunks, it looked like a disaster with all the broken glass around the edge. But again, with some meticulous, fine scale cleaning later, this was all forgotten, and it came out stunning.

    One other thought--as I was gently prying away the digitizer, I did keep the tablet overturned with the screen angled downwards. My rationale was that glass fragments would only fall down and away from the tablet vs. potentially into the innards as I was doing the work.

    Overall, I would say this is a pretty advanced operation, but certainly doable if you have the patience, and your finances don't support a $300-$350 replacement from Apple. If you do decide to go ahead and do it yourself, good luck, and remember, the real key here is patience. If you have it, you can probably end up with a stunning result that looks essentially as good as something right out of the box.
  4. Longballbeeg macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2012

    Just looking for an update on your digitizer screen. I need to replace mine and am looking for a quality replacement. With all the options and such little information I do not want to get burned. I have heard of many that are flimsy or stop working after awhile. Thanks for your help!
  5. Ashwood11 macrumors 65816

    Nov 10, 2010
    verbage…thanks for your posts. I'm sure it will help those willing to tackle this themselves. Which took longer, the replacement or the posts?
  6. charlituna macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Did you ask about the broken one or just go in and say you wanted to buy a new iPad. Cause at the Genius Bar they will let you buy the service swap for like $300
  7. Kevin117 macrumors newbie

    Jun 2, 2012

    Thanks for a great post. Your patience and attention to detail shows in your writing as well as your repair skills. Consider a career in technical writing?
  8. verbage thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    I guess I could have gone to the Genius Bar, but it was not actually my iPad to begin with. It was a short-term technology loan from work to see if it would actually be useful. I had signed a form saying it was for work use only, and so when my kids broke it within hours of arriving home, all I could think of was instantly replacing it.
  9. verbage, Apr 22, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2013

    verbage thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2012
    Yeah, tech writing is sort of my career, but I am happy if this has been able to help at least a few folks considering the repair.

    As an update, the digitizer is still working swimmingly well despite heavy usage. It literally does a 95% battery capacity cycle every day given extensive use by the wife and kids.


    This is probably too late to be helpful, but I stopped viewing this forum a few weeks after making the fix. But in sum, the digitizer is still working perfectly, and it sees heavy usage every single day.


    About the same amount of time :D

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