iMore has learned from sources within Apple retail that broken iPhone 5 displays may soon be getting replaced in-store. This would be a change from Apple's current iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 practice, which consisted of swapping the entire iPhone out for a new or refurbished one. Sources within Apple retail have told us that equipment used to remove the screens has started appearing in their stores.
The new unibody design of the iPhone 5 may be what makes it easier for Apple Retail staff to swap out the display. Apple Retail has been replacing shattered screens on the iPhone 3G and 3GS like this for quite some time. Instead of replacing just the glass, the entire front containing the digitizer, glass, and LCD would be removed from an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS and replaced with a new one.
This process wasn't possible with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S due to the design. While the glass backplate of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S could easily be removed, the front assembly could not -- all of the internal components lay on top of the screen.
Apple Retail does offer some repairs on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S including rear panel replacement, camera replacement, and in some cases vibrator assembly replacement (GSM models only). Basically, any repair that could be done in a minimal amount of time.
There's no word yet on how much the service will cost or whether it'll be tied into AppleCare+. The current pricing is based off paying $99 for the plan and then $50 per incident. Since, with the iPhone 5, the entire iPhone wouldn't have to be replaced anymore, it may bring down the cost for both in and out of warranty repairs.