It’s become the rite-of-passage for Smartphone owners everywhere: a shattered cell phone screen. After shelling out hundreds of dollars and getting your technical life transferred to your mobile device, one trip or slip and that shiny new phone, tablet or iPod is totally unusable. It’s too late to repent the decision to forgo a sturdier case – how do you get your phone back to usable condition?
The first call most people make is to their cell phone carrier. The person on the phone or behind the counter is going to ask whether or not you bought their phone insurance. If not, they aren’t going to be able to help you with anything other than picking out a new phone. If you have to pay full price for a replacement device, this option may be quite costly.
If you elected to pay the monthly fee for insurance, typically $7 to $11 per month depending on the phone and carrier, calling your carrier seems like the most logical step. However, each of the major carrier’s insurance plans has a deductible (ranging from $160 to $200 for iPhones), so if the damage is limited to your screen you may be better off contacting a local repair shop.
Now that so many Americans own mobile devices (Smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, etc.), and those little buggers are so darn easy to drop, screen replacement for hand held electronics has become an in-demand service. If you live in a metropolitan area, you’ll likely have a choice of several shops that can fix your phone in under an hour for around $100, often less. Search your local Google listings for “iPhone screen replacement,” for example, and call around to get an idea of cost and repair time available in your area.
iCracked is a network of independent repair professionals that will go out to your home or office to fix an iPhone, iPad or iPod. Enter in your contact information and a bit of info about your phone and a technician in your area will get in touch to give you a quote. Speed and cost of service is determined by the “iTech” that responds to your service request, but iPhone repairs typically run about $70 to $99.
If you’re inclined to try a DIY repair, screen replacement kits can be purchased through online retailers like Amazon for roughly $40, sometimes less. iCracked sells iPhone screen repair kits for $60-120, depending on your device. Before you embark on the endeavor, watch a few YouTube videos for replacing the screen on your specific device – some are far easier than others. Most kits will include the LCD face as well as the tools you’ll need, and it’s unlikely that you’ll need to do any soldering. For some devices, replacing the screen involves just gently removing a few delicate screws and plastic pieces, though others are far more challenging. If you plan to purchase a kit through a retailer like Amazon, be sure to read the reviews for tips about difficulty, what’s included in the kit, repair time involved, and the responsiveness of the screen once installed.
Is it worth shelling out the monthly fee for phone insurance through your carrier? For some particularly damage-prone customers, perhaps. Though be sure to confirm that the plan covers accidental damage if you want to be covered if you drop it, send it through the washing machine or it have it overheat in the car. While a screen replacement can be done for around $100, repairing damage to the internal mechanics of your phone can get pricey, so getting a replacement for under $200 could be worthwhile. Just be sure to factor in the cost of the monthly insurance premiums and the deductible.
Every carrier we spoke with contracts their insurance through a carrier called Asurion. When you file a claim, you’ll have to pony up your deductible, but in most cases you’ll be sent a new phone – it’s highly unlikely that your old one will even be repaired. Many carriers will offer you a loaner phone while you wait for your device to be repaired or replaced.
If you’re in the market for a new iPhone and debating about whether or not to purchase insurance, it’s worth looking into Apple’s “AppleCare+.” As with most cell carriers, coverage must be purchased within 30 days of the purchase of your phone either at an Apple store or over the phone. If you call you’ll need to provide proof of purchase and run a remote diagnostic. Two years of hardware warranty will cost you $100, and it includes two instances of accidental damage with a $79 “service fee” (which seems to be their version of a deductible).
If you never purchased AppleCare+ or insurance through your carrier, Apple may still be able to repair your iPhone (which most often involves replacing it with a refurbished or new one) for $149-$269 depending on the model. Contact Apple for details.
While I’d urge you to shop around before shelling out your deductible to have your screen replaced, the deductible will likely be cheaper than a new phone if you’d otherwise have to replace the device.
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