When an iPod Breaks, Look to Fix-it Mom!

by Amy Donovan


Photo credit, Amy Donovan.


He knew it the second the iPod hit the ground, the unmistakable sound of glass cracking. The iPod itself, amazingly, still worked, but the screen was a web of cracks.

“Can we fix it?” he asked.

“Of course we can,” I said.

That is how the discussion began with our 12-year-old son Cade when he cracked the front of his 4th generation iPod Touch.

We had three options: Cade could save and buy a new one, but the idea of throwing away an iPod that worked because the screen was cracked didn’t sit well with me. We have become a generation that throws away technology when something goes wrong, only to turn around and buy a new one.  We could send it in, but the cost to send it in was close to the cost of buying a new one.  Or, we could fix it ourselves. In the end we decided that this was the best option not just because it was the most affordable choice, but also because it sounded like a fun challenge.


Photo credit for all following photos goes to Kathryn Donovan age 7.

After doing some research it seemed the 4th generation iPod front panel was permanently adhered to the LCD beneath it, making it pretty hard to separate just the glass. Not all models are like this, but for the 4th generation it seemed to be the case.  We purchased the part on eBay by searching for “iPod Touch 4th generation OEM LCD Screen Digitizer Glass Assembly + Tools”. We knew we needed to purchase one that was from an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer).  The part came as one piece and the tools were included. It cost around $25 including shipping.

One week later we had the tools, the replacement screen and the broken iPod spread out across the table. It was exciting and empowering to break the seal. There it was the beautiful inside of the iPod Touch.


Two hours later we were down to our final two steps. 1. Turn it on to make sure the digitizer works properly before you seal it. 2. Apply adhesive and pressure to seal it up.  This was it the moment of truth. Before sealing it up we turned it on and it worked!  First attempt and it worked, we gave each other a high five.  What a feeling, to open the iPod, take it apart and have it work! Now we just needed to apply adhesive and snap it shut.  But our moment of triumph faded quickly. Once we applied the adhesive and pressure to snap it tightly back together something happened. When we turned it back on only half the display worked.


Now what? We had no idea what went wrong. We backed tracked, and took the whole thing apart thinking it might be a loose connection, but it still didn’t work.

We weren’t sure what question to ask. We went to the Apple Store thinking they might be able to give us some advice or point us in the right direction. Their response was you shouldn’t have opened it. They told us we needed to send it to a professional. What? That just made me mad and more determined to figure out the problem.

We want to encourage our children to problem solve; there is always an answer. We have the Internet at our fingertips. You ask a question and receive an answer. After research and talking with friends it was decided it must have been the pressure when we sealed it.  So we bought another LCD screen, this time it took half the time since we already knew what to do, snap it shut with the gentlest touch…. Success.

Here’s the online tutorial we followed: (Click this link.)


Amy Donovan is a Missoula, Montana based photographer. She has been married to Hank Donovan for 18 years. They are raising their two amazing kids, Cade age 12, and Kathryn, age 7, live in Missoula, Montana. See samples of Amy’s photography on her website: Amy Donovan Photography.