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What to do With an iPad with a Broken Screen

Has anyone else noticed that no one seems to be reusing iPads with broken screens?

I recently decided to replace my 4 year old iPad 2. (It had long had a broken screen, and with last year’s iPad Air costing $100 less this year an upgrade made sense.) Once I had the new one on my desk and went googling for help on what to do next, I was surprised by the lack of instructions on how to upgrade as well as by the lack of posts on how to reuse an old iPad with a broken screen.

From what I can see online, hardly anyone is repurposing iPads with broken screens for other uses; they’re either junking them, selling them to a reseller/recycler like Glyde, or repairing them manually.

That is very different from Android tablets, where you can find any number of suggestions on how to repurpose a tablet with a broken screen (I even wrote a post on the topic). An Android tablet can be repurposed as a OP security camera, a media server, or for other uses, but most of the apps which are required for those uses don’t exist for the iPad – or at least I can’t find them in Google.

And so I am probably going to end up selling my old iPad. There’s a bunchaton of online services that will buy even a busted iPad 2. Gazelle, for example, offered me $35. Glyde offered me $37. There were other offers, but those were the highest.

Now that I have fully migrated to my new iPad, I’m probably going to take Glyde up on their offer. Speaking of which, here are the steps I took to upgrade. Apple makes the process very simple but I couldn’t find any instructions online.

  1. Update iTunes. The later model iPads require newer versions of iTunes, so you’ll want to update this first. (This is an app I leave shut down, and not running in the background, so my copy hadn’t been updated in years.)
  2. Plug the old iPad into your PC over USB, and use iTunes to create a manual backup. (You can also create a backup in iCloud but the direct option is faster.) Depending on how much crud you’ve accumulated on your iPad, this process could take anywhere from a few minutes to hours.
  3. Unplug the old iPad, and set it aside.
  4. Set up the new iPad, and when asked choose the option to load the backup from iTunes.

That last step will take a while, and you’ll have to leave the new iPad plugged in while it’s in process. But you don’t actually have to watch it the entire time, so it’s not all bad.

Once you’ve confirmed that the backup has been properly installed, you might want to reset the old iPad as a security precaution; this erases the personal info on the tablet, and wipes the files you left behind. You can find the reset option at the bottom of the general menu in the settings menu.


All in all, I really like the new iPad but I’m not seeing anything to make me regret waiting so long to upgrade. The new unit is nice, but the older iPad 2 did everything I need – except for run the latest apps which required iOS8.

I was still on iOS6 because I never got around to upgrading to iOS7 until it was too late. (It’s strange, but I was unable to go from iOS6 to iOS7.1 without first installing iOS7, and by the time I figured that out it was too late to install iOS7.)

image by dmott9


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Greg Strandberg November 15, 2014 um 10:58 pm

Helpful stuff. Who doesn’t want $37 for something that’s sitting in a drawer?

Eric November 16, 2014 um 9:02 am

The linkage of apps to the latest OS is what moved me off Apple to Android. If you have an older device, e.g., an iTouch and upgrade to a newer OS, you’ll discover that your device can’t run the latest OS so it upgrades to the latest version the device will handle. Unfortunately, you’ll then discover that because most of your apps have been upgraded to the latest OS, they won’t run on your older device with the older OS, i.e., you’ve essentially bricked your device unless you can find older versions of the apps, not always an easy task. This has never been a problem with my Android devices since older versions of everything are readily available. Apple makes good stuff but their insistence on forcing upgrades to hardware, I think, will hurt them.

Nate Hoffelder November 16, 2014 um 9:47 am

I’ve long preferred Android, and backwards compatibility was one of the reasons. But I have had to keep an iDevice around for work.

AltheGreatandPowerful November 16, 2014 um 10:52 am

Isn’t Apple’s whole philosophy to make it hard to fix at home? I would expect some of the lack of fixes is their handiwork either through litigation or through indoctrination of the community (including would-be fixers and non-apple techs) in getting them to go to apple for fixes. I’m sure Apple thinks its all about quality control, but the result is a dulling of the community.

Jessica November 16, 2014 um 12:29 pm

Apple has always told you to make your own backups. It’s been in the iTunes App Store terms of use since day one. The only reason Android doesn’t have this issue is because of not only the lack in OS updates on older hardware, but also in the lack of major app updates (because developers cannot use APIs that are not present in the majority of their users' devices).

Would rather $37 too if it was just sitting around. Lots of people fix them because it’s cheaper than buying a new one, especially if it’s a bigger capacity.

AltheGreatandPowerful November 16, 2014 um 12:54 pm

Ah, I see that I misread the original post. Surfing the web pulls up MANY sites about replacing the broken screen. Winning! That’s so much better than the old days.

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