Most people use their smartphones more than just about any other device. Research suggests that on average people look at their phones between 50 and 80 times per day. Taking it in and out of your pocket, throwing into your handbag, using it on public transport and in the car — that’s a lot for a sensitive piece of high-tech equipment to go through every day.
With all that usage, is it any wonder that phone damage is all too common. Unfortunately, while damage is to be expected, repairing a smartphone can be more complicated than you might think.
Smartphones are sophisticated and compact pieces of technology that are designed to be replaced not repaired. Add to that the short lifespan of most phone models, with newer models usually superseding old phones within 12 months. All this means that phone manufacturers don’t have incentive to repair damaged phones when they can just convince you to upgrade to the new model.
However, for most people, much of their daily life is carried inside their mobile phone, so having to replace a damaged phone can be a major hassle.
If you’ve damaged your phone then chances are the big question will be: to repair or replace. Sometimes, repairs will end up costing nearly as much as a new phone. Other times, the phone simply can’t be repaired.
These are the questions you need to ask when you’re working out whether to repair or replace a damaged phone.
What repairs are required?
The first thing you need to determine is what repairs are required. Cracked screens are fairly common and easy enough to fix across most models. However, other internal repairs can be extremely difficult and in the case of some phone models, may not be possible at all. A phone repair expert will be able to tell you exactly what repairs are required.
How repairable is it?
Once you know what the problem is, you need to work out if it can even be fixed. There are a number of factors that make mobile phones extremely difficult to fix. In an effort to save space, mobile phones are incredibly tightly integrated. This means that it can be impossible to access some parts without damaging other parts. The use of specialist fixings and adhesives, the need for non-standard or proprietary tools, and the international lack of manufacturer repair manuals means that these devices are often designed to be replaced, not repaired.
Even batteries in some models are no longer replaceable. In some phones, the batteries are fixed to the device panel. Since batteries have a finite lifespan, that means when the battery dies, the phone needs to be replaced.
In a lot of cases, replacement parts may not even be available. The major phone manufacturers don’t supply a large range of replacement parts, preferring their customers to upgrade or replace phones, rather than repair them.
How much will it cost to repair?
Chances are, it will be expensive, especially if you go through the manufacturer. Third-party phone repair companies can handle a wide range of repairs on most makes and models. Most good repair companies will give you a free quote for parts and repairs so you can determine whether it’s worth repairing.
Is it insured or under warranty?
If your phone is insured or under warranty, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced without too big a hit to your pocket. Unfortunately, most manufacturer warranties won’t cover physical damage caused by drops or bumps. If you are lucky enough to have the phone covered by insurance or a warranty, you won’t have much say over whether the phone is repaired or replaced. Chances are you will end up with a replacement phone, rather than repairs.
How long will repairs take
If repairs are possible, you need to factor in how long they will take (and how long you can afford to be without your phone). Third-party phone repair companies can do basic repairs on the spot or with a 24-hour turnaround. However, more complicated repairs may involve sourcing parts from overseas suppliers, and that can take weeks.
If you’re sending your phone back to the manufacturer for repairs, you could be without your phone for up to a month or two.
Will repairs affect the life or operation of the phone?
Some repairs will irreparably damage other aspects of the phone. For example, opening up the phone to access the inner components, can break the seals, leaving the phone vulnerable to damage from water and dust.
The unfortunate reality is that major phone manufacturers like Samsung and Apple have designed their phones to make them as difficult as possible to repair. By limiting access to replacement parts and using proprietary tools and fixings, these companies are ensuring that most customers will simply replace their phones, rather than going through the hassle of repairing them.
But it’s also worth checking with your local phone repair store. It’s always best to try to get your phone repaired, rather than replaced. Repairing it will reduce the amount of e-waste generated and save you the hassle of transferring all your data over to a new phone.