It is the scourge of clumsy smartphone users everywhere. One slip of the hand and your screen is shattered, becoming an eyesore and risking further damage to your device.

It emerged this week that scientists at Sussex University are developing a new 'unbreakable' screen that could be on smartphones by 2018.

But meanwhile getting the problem fixed is not always easy or affordable. Warranties often don’t cover accidental damage, so the cost of repairing devices through their manufacturers can run into three figures.

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Apple, which this week launched its long-awaited iPhone7, has also just raised its prices for repairing older smartphones by up to 50 per cent.

The cost of fixing a cracked iPhone 6 screen has risen from £79 to £119 and the 6 Plus from £99 to £139, it was reported.

At high street chain Timpsons, meanwhile, a Samsung Galaxy S5 screen repair costs £150 while iPhone fixes come in at £60 to £180.

A cheaper option is to go online, with web-based companies such as Fone Angels advertising “fast, professional” repairs that start from as little as £30.

Anyone looking to go down this route, however, should be aware that the actual cost could ultimately be higher because, unlike in an actual shop, the phone can’t be viewed prior to giving a quote.

One Edinburgh-based Herald reader, for example, noted that the £34.99 Fone Angels originally quoted to repair her Samsung Galaxy S5 phone screen rose to £134.99 after the company saw the phone.

The rise was due to the company having to remove the screen, which could cause damage to the LCD underneath.

A spokesman for Fone Angels admitted that such rises in quoted costs are one of the by-products of running such a business online, adding: “While we make every effort to warn customers if there is potential for additional faults or complications, this cannot always be known in advance.”

Other alternatives are available, though most are geared towards iPhones. iTechnician only deals in Apple devices but it?covers most areas in Scotland?and does?most repairs at your home or workplace?within 24 hours?- the average cost is £50.

iMend also sends independent technicians to wherever you’re based in most cities?within 48 hours?and it offers to fix Samsung phones, but the repairs are not necessarily cheap. Fixing an iPhone 4 screen costs just £39.99 while restoring a Samsung S7 Edge?is £269.99.

Investing in a rugged phone case and screen protector should prevent a crack but if it does happen, mobile phone insurance may be a lifeline.

You must check whether the policy covers cracked screens and whether your phone is?the right age?for the policy.?You will usually have to pay an excess to make a claim and sometimes you are prevented from making a claim at the start of a policy so study the exclusions carefully - mobile insurance has traditionally had a high rejection rate for claims.

Buying insurance from an independent firm is usually much cheaper than going to your mobile network. A new entrant to the market, Back Me Up, offers?screen repair in an insurance package costing £15 a month with an excess of £30 for customers aged 18 to 34.

It is also worth checking whether you are already covered for screen repairs through your home contents insurance or a packaged bank account, though your phone might need to be registered to make a claim.

Alternatively, you may want to pay extra for a so-called ‘shatterproof’ smartphone, such as the Moto X Force phone from Motorola costing £499. And?one major?fool-proof option (if you can live without constant web access) is the sturdy ‘dumbphone’. The Nokia 215 has a battery life of 29 days and costs between £20 and £30.

But for higher-end smartphone addicts, help could be at hand. Alan Dalton, Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Sussex, said of his team’s work: “Scientists have long been trying to develop a phone or tablet that has a screen that will not break or shatter on impact and this new development could turn that research into a reality.”