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Date: Apr 22, 2013
Cracking a book – good. Cracking an iPhone – bad.

"No, really it still mostly works," a friend said once as he was desperately trying to demonstrate how his cracked iPhone screen was still usable.

It has to be almost the biggest worry for iPhone users: a dropped phone and a cracked screen. Keep an eye out while you're on the road and you'll see cars driving around painted up to advertise that the person behind the steering wheel replaces iPhone screens. The service typically costs $100 or more. Apple charges about twice that amount.

Faced with a cracked screen on an iPhone, users can try installing a replacement themselves. However, check YouTube and you'll see that the step-by-step videos are generally labeled for "entertainment purposes only" as if watching someone take apart an iPhone is entertainment.

You'll discover that the first step in dealing with a cracked screen on an iPhone is to buy the special tools and parts needed for the job. That, by the way, is the easiest step in the process. Solving a Rubik's Cube is a breeze compared to successfully dealing with an iPhone crack.

Checking online for repair kits, wannabe iPhone fixit guys will find some prices starting under ten bucks and others that run more than $60. Plus, it's very easy to order the wrong item. Make that mistake and you're back to square one and facing some fast-talking to get either your money back or the right parts finally ordered.

When, or rather if you get everything you need, you'll probably find that it requires between one and two hours to disassemble the phone, replace the parts and put Humpty Dumpty back together again. That's not counting the number of times you should watch various YouTube videos to get yourself prepared and psyched up for the job.

Preventing a cracked screen on the iPhone is far simpler and less costly in both time and money. LifeProof cases, built to Military Standard 810F-516, are designed to keep your iPhone safe even if an NBA forward drops it while chatting to his girlfriend at halftime or you accidentally set it on top of your car and it falls to the pavement when you pull out of the driveway.

Getting down to the proverbial brass tacks:

• Cracked screens on iPhones are all too common
• Apple and third parties replace screens for fees up to $200
• Kits are available for DIYers
• Replacement is difficult and time consuming
• LifeProof cases provide an extraordinary defense against cracked screens