30 Days of Nexus 5: The Ugly

Nexus 5: Ugly Display Problem 

This is the third in our series of posts on 30 Days with Nexus 5: The Good,  Nexus 5: The Bad, and Ugly. Today, we’re featuring probably the single ugliest issue to date – massive issues with cracked and shattered Nexus 5 displays.

It was during our research for the rest of the problems we reported that we ran into this one, and it is costing users a pretty penny. The Official Nexus 5 Google Product Forum is showing a number of threads with hundreds of posts in which every author reports that his or her Nexus 5 display has cracked or shattered already.

Here’s a video of a screen shattering on the first drop. Screenshot of it is below.

While there are no official statistics concerning the issue, we dug though the reports and found a few things in common:

  • All cracking or shattering happened within 48 hours of receiving the device
  • Devices broken as the result of dropping were dropped once only, and with little force
  • Cracks and shatters happened during normal wear and tear
  • Display was cracked or otherwise faulty out of the box.

Interesting, is it not? We thought so, which is why we kept looking at the issue, and a few stories intrigued us in addition to the fact that if you search for “Nexus 5 cracked screen” there are a full three pages of separate forums with hundreds – possibly thousands of users – posting the same issue.

Nexus 5 Cracked Display demonstration

Nexus 5 Cracked Display Demonstration via YouTube

For example, this report from Romy Bermudez states he found a hairline crack, but that:

“I have been babying this phone since day 1. I have not dropped it or anything. The hairline crack just appeared … I called Google and they said there was nothing they could do about it.”

Then this one from Killerteacup says:

“I set my phone face down on a desk and when I picked it up, the screen was shattered. Google said they wouldn’t take it back because it’s physically damaged. LG said they won’t take it back because it’s damaged.”

Other Nexus 5 users report similar situations, and that their Nexus 5 arrived cracked or shattered right out of the box. Others have said that their device’s screen shattered when carrying it in a jacket pocket, and still others have said that the phone’s display broke when pressing the talk buttons, or while talking on the phone.

That’s not the worst part…

The worst part is that while Google is indeed refunding or exchanging Nexus 5s from users complaining of cracked or shattered displays, those who decide to get theirs fixed are being forced to pay LG for the fix – out of pocket, despite the fact that most of the shattering and breaks aren’t the fault of the user.

LG tells the owners to send the device to the nearest authorized repair center for a quote, and users are reporting that the repair costs no less than $146 – plus shipping both ways.

What’s Going on with the Nexus 5 Display?

Nexus 5 with Kit-Kat

Nexus 5 with Kit-Kat by  Janitors

Now, before you go thinking (like we did) that this is a scam, and that there’s no way for the Nexus 5 to shatter simply by placing it down, we’ve heard the same complaint –the device shattered upon placing it normally on a desk – a few times in a few different forums.

As for it being cracked or shattered upon arrival, the Nexus 5 would have had to be cracked during shipping. Because of this, it makes us think that it’s possible some of the other cracks and shatters could be caused by hairline fractures received during shipping that get worse during normal use.

Now, if this were happening to only a few devices, it wouldn’t be much of an issue, but there are hundreds of users who are complaining of a broken display, whether it broke during normal wear and tear or it was broken out of the box.

Have you had a problem with the display? Let us know how it happened and how you handled the problem below!

17 Comments

  1. Jaya Chaturvedi

    December 19, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    My nexus 5 screen shattered two days after I received it.It slipped out of my jacket pocket when I tripped and fell. But I was already on the ground when it slipped out, so the impact wasn’t too much. But it shattered the entire screen. Google refused to do anything about it. And LG in Canada quoted $230 for the repair. I’m trying to put a claim through my MasterCard insurance to cover the costs 🙁

  2. James Davis

    January 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Shattered screen less than two weeks after purchase on December 9, 2013. Didn’t drop, crush or scratch the phone. Noticed it was shattered when wife removed it from her purse. Google refused to refund or replace and referred us to LG.

  3. mdv

    February 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    My Nexus 5 display damaged in a month. I had to repair it on my own

  4. benbe

    February 12, 2014 at 9:37 am

    “The worst part is that while Google is indeed refunding or exchanging Nexus 5s from users complaining of cracked or shattered displays,”

    Can you elaborate on this one? Most cases I heard about mention google doesn’t care about cracked screens!

  5. Conor S.

    May 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I was the proud owner of a brand new N5 for less than 14 hours before the screen cracked. I was at a cafe and someone on crutches tripped and hit the table hard, only to hit her head on a stone floor. I went to see if she was alright and help her to cab before I got back and found my friend looking really sorry for me.

    This happened 3 hours ago.

  6. Marcos

    June 18, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I have just had this issue 2 days ago. The phone was in my pocket and I was riding a bus, standing up, listening to music. Ten minutes later, as soon as I take it out I notice a big crack on the screen, coming from the top where the earphone jack is and making a curve to the left-center of the phone. Wait. No dropping, pressing, nothing.

    Yesterday I had set my phone down to charge as usual, on the opposite side of the room from my bed. When I wake up and pick it up, there is another crack!

    I am really going to try and solve this here. I am in Brazil, though, and respect for customer service is not always the norm.

    Thanks for compiling this list.

  7. Karan

    July 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    My nexus 5 phone screen cracked today. It’s very disappointing. Just paid a very good sum to purchase it and this is just what one does not expect of a Google product. It fell from a distance of less than 2 feet on the street and fell lightly. The upper part of the screen cracked. Now after having paid a tidy sum for the black 32gb it’s most disappointing. There are much cheaper phones out there that survive worst falls. Please can someone provide information on Google refunding or replacing cracked phones. Alternatively how much does a new screen cost. Thanks.

  8. Julie Bosgra

    July 17, 2014 at 2:44 am

    same issue…1 month old N5 in a case found cracked in bottom right hand corner with crack spreading across screen. Not dropped. Was going to order 3 phones as everyone in the household needs a new phone…so glad I didn’t. At least Apple will acknowledge the screen issue and will replace. I have read on forums that it could be covered under warranty but if Google decide not to cover you are forced to pay for a brand new phone. Any feedback on warranty cover would be appreciated.

  9. Abhishek Roy

    July 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Phone fell from hand on the road and the screen cracked inspite of a heavy body cover that is have installed. Since i had installed a screen guard, the screen is still sticking together and the phone is functioning flawlessly.

  10. Sen

    August 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Got the N5 as bday gift from wife.Worked flawlessly for 3 weeks.
    Few days back while sitting on a chair chatting with friends the phone slipped out while I was trying to take it our from my pocket and fell on the concrete floor.
    The screen is shattered at multiple places but the phone is working fine.
    Called Google and was told no accidental damages covered checked with LG and have been told the cost of repair will be a whooping INR 7500.
    LG claims this to be Gorilla Glass,but I have had the Nokia’s,Samsung and Apple and they fell several times without ever developing a crack and this brand new piece just one fall from a height of barely feet and a half causes it to shatter.Well done Google.

  11. akarc

    August 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Had been using phone to text friends. Put phone in pocket to go meet friends. Took phone out of pocket and laid on table upon meeting friends. Friends ask, “What happened to your phone.” Looked down and screen was completely shattered and inoperable. Owned less than 6 months. Bought from Google play.

    What was Googles mantra agian, “Do no Evil??????????????????”

    May have to ake a trip to google head quarters.

  12. Karan Aggarwal

    September 6, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Hi, I was a proud Nexus user. After 6 months of Purchase, suddenly last night when I came from my friends place. I saw my screen display is shattered only lines are coming. Nore> I have taken very good care of my phone. There is not even a single scratch on my phone be it screen or back. I have called google play customer and told them that display is not coming properly at all they have asked me to send the phone to check and blocked the money for new phone. Not sure whats gonna happen next. Note there is not even a scratch on my phone and screen. It should be covered under warranty right ? I will keep the forum posted about what happened in next few days.

  13. Cat Steppings

    November 21, 2014 at 12:51 am

    I’ve had my Nexus since November, 2013. I have not had any issues at all with screen breakage or cracks. I’ve used Xtreme guard screen protectors on both front and back of the device, as well as use a google slim bumper case (the overpriced case they sell on their website) since I bought it. I have dropped the phone maybe four or five times in the past year, either from shoulder level or waist level onto concrete. So, about 3 ft – 5 ft drops. The screen did not shatter or crack or anything. Every drop was with the bumper case. I have never taken off the xtreme guard film, it works well. I usually keep phone in pants pocket, or my computer bag, and have avoided putting any undo pressure on the device itself, so I don’t keep it in my back pocket, ever (butt-dial anyone?).

    I would tell anyone to just get a decent case for your phone when you buy it! The screen guard seems to be added protection, peace of mind, but I have no idea if it actually prevents cracks. I did drop the phone once at home before my case arrived in the mail, not on concrete, hit a shelf by the bed, and I got a small nick/dent in the phone’s casing, but not the glass and that’s the extent of damage I have.

    I’m still using my Nexus 5 and don’t care about getting a Nexus 6, I’ll upgrade later, if my phone survives or I don’t get mugged (knock on wood).

    Also, anyone who has recently gotten a cracked screen, you should call Google, because I read an article a couple months ago that said that they were replacing people’s google devices if they had damage. My understanding is that it is a one-time only deal. Not sure if they are still offering that service.
    Hope that helps!

  14. Rex Tucker

    February 12, 2015 at 1:49 am

    I am in the USA and dropped my Nexus 5 phone. I had a body protector and a leather cover. It hit the ground and busted the screen. I checked locally and was told the cost to replace was $150.00. I checked several stores and got the same price. I then called LG and of course got a call center in Panama. I wanted the Canadian business but you all know not much point arguing with someone from Panama who answers phones. Then I found out that if you purchased your phone from Google Store you could get a new free replacement screen. Imagine this is only if you purchased it from Google Store USA. You are out of luck if you purchased from Google Store Canada or any other country. There are lots of complaints about this phone screen cracking with very little impact. I paid $411.00 for this phone and I will remember when I buy anything from now on it has nothing to do with Google or LG or any company that states the screen is made of Gorilla Glass when it breaks like an egg shell. I am pissed off and wonder if you are in the same club as myself?
    If you purchased from Google USA check see if you can get a FREE replacement. If you purchased from Google Canada through LG forget it. The thing that pissed me off is Google USA has my information on their computers but they treat me different than USA purchasers. Then no difference we buy a car made in Georgia and in the USA you get 100,000.00 mile warranty we get 100,000.00 km warranty which is much less. Oh well I guess they do not learn “Target” did.

  15. Varun Mathur

    April 8, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    I have just had this issue 3 days ago. The phone was in my pocket and I was riding a bike and listening to music. Sometime later, I took out the phone and there is a crack near to the simcard side on the screen.Worst, there is no crack on top of the screen but its an internal crack. No dropping, pressing, nothing but there is an internal crack. I would have completely understand if it has been broken because of me. But I can’t understand if mobile gets internal crack when its there in my pocket. I also read LG and Google forums that Nexus Glass is prone for internal crack (as in my case). Mine is still under warranty so I would expect to be replaced but LG is not approving. This is ridiculous. This is a scam from both Google and LG. I didn’t expect this from Google.

  16. John Gates

    May 1, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Same thing just happened to me. My Nexus 5 was 1-week old. I checked my email, set it down on a counter (carefully and in a very serious protective case), then picked it up and when I turned it on the LCD behind the glass was a mess of vertical lines, and there is a clear crack in the LCD itself (not the glass). Absolutely no force of any kind was applied to the phone. It’s now on its way back to LG but based on what I’ve read I’m now preparing for a fight over who pays for the repair. Really ridiculous that this would happen to any phone much less a brand new one.

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