Any iPhone camera repair caveats?

I tried to take a photo with my iPhone 7 but the image was wobbling, maybe “vibrating” is a better description. Top advice was to clean it but that didn’t help, looking more closely I got a bad feeling and using the Magnifier app on my wife’s phone let me clearly see that the lens is cracked (maybe it’s technically glass covering the lens but the end result is the same).

Is there any potential downside to getting the camera repaired (I assume it actually involves replacing the entire camera component)?

I’ve found a well reviewed local iPhone repair place that I don’t have a quote from yet but I think it will be less than $50, which sounds like a good deal. As long as the phone is opened up, I’d probably get the battery replaced as well.

I don’t take a lot of photos but I care enough to consider a working camera essential. I’ve had this phone over four years so I’ve gotten enough use out of it but I also don’t have a burning need for a new one. For both my iPhone 7 and my wife’s 6s, I’ve been thinking we’d replace the batteries soon and not replace them until something major broke or they stopped running a current OS. The iPhone 7’s processor is also in a 2019 iPad model so I think there’s no danger of it not running next year’s iOS version (or beyond).

Several comments. I haven’t actually done this, but I watch YouTube videos from various people who do repair work :slight_smile:. No answers for you, but some information that may help you ask good questions of the shop before you have them do the work.

  • You may want to look at iFixit’s guide for replacing an iPhone 7 rear camera. It appears that the most difficult part is simply opening the phone to get access to the camera. The actual camera replacement looks very simple if you’re comfortable working with small tools.
    • In other words, any shop that is capable of doing basic repair work (e.g. screen and battery replacement) on an iPhone 7 should be able to replace the camera.
  • Be careful about what kind of camera the shop installs. You want something that’s either genuine Apple or an exact match. Some cheap aftermarket cameras produce image quality noticeably worse than from a genuine Apple camera.
    • iFixit sells a replacement camera. $55 for the camera or $60 for a kit that includes tools and replacement adhesive (so the phone will remain water resistant after you close it up).
    • Given that price, you should probably expect a repair shop to charge $100-150. They’re probably going to charge you the cost of the camera plus an hour’s labor to actually do the installation. Maybe a bit less if they can get a good camera module for a low price (maybe pulled from a donor device), but I think $50 for the entire job sounds low. I would question the quality/source of the replacement camera if that’s what it actually costs.
  • For comparison purposes, Apple charges $319 for any out-of-warranty service other than screen/battery. This is a flat fee for anything (motherboard replacement, sensors, whatever). Far too expensive if all you need is a replacement camera, but you should consider it an absolute upper limit for any price quoted, since that’s what you’ll pay if you have Apple do the work.
  • Looking more closely at iFixit’s replacement part, it seems like the cracked glass may be part of the rear case assembly, not the camera. If that’s the case, it’s a much more difficult procedure since you need to remove every part and install them in a new case. But the case itself costs a but less than a camera ($30 from iFixit for an aftermarket case that doesn’t have an Apple logo on it).

Thank you! I think you’re right about the cracked glass being a part of the rear case, not the camera. I’m still inclined to get a quote but with lowered expectations for what the cost will be; I expect a good tech in a shop may work a lot faster than what DIY instructions estimate but 2-3 hours vs. 10-20 minutes for a camera replacement (according to iFixIt’s guides) surely means a higher labor cost.

Regardless of the problem, I won’t work on iPhone hardware myself. Old Mac minis, ones with optical drives, were about my cutoff for hardware I’m willing to poke around inside. I don’t want to mess with adhesives, spudgers, suction cups, or anything with such tight tolerances.

$200 total for resolving the camera problem and a battery replacement, halfway to the cost of an SE, is my rough threshold.

I emailed the local store last weekend, describing the problem and asked about a battery replacement. He said the crack isn’t responsible for the wobble, it’s the camera component itself. Individually, he quoted the replacements as $40 for the back lens (it’s just the lens, it doesn’t require replacing the whole back), $60 for the camera, and $49 for the battery. But doing them all together, they’d replace it all for $109 (before tax). Hard to say if that’s a normal reduction or due to The 'Demic.

I went yesterday and the work took about an hour (I didn’t hang out there so I don’t know how many interruptions he had). The camera looks good, the battery reports 100% capacity again and peak performance capability, and the iPhone feels the same in my hand as it did before it was opened up. :+1: