If you visit any Apple Store and walk up to the Genius Bar, chances are you’ll encounter at least several people who have somehow damaged their iPhone and who are seeking to repair it. While the iPhone is designed to withstand heavy day-to-day usage, it is susceptible to damage if you drop it, scratch it, throw it, submerge it in liquid, somehow crush it, or otherwise abuse it.
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Be Proactive and Protect Your iPhone Investment
Knowing there’s a good probability that something bad will happen to your iPhone at some point in its lifecycle, it’s a good idea to take proactive measures to avoid costly repairs or the frustration of losing important data. One of the best things you can do right when you purchase a new iPhone model is to purchase AppleCare+ for it. This costs an additional $99.00 for two years, but offers coverage if you break or damage your device during the coverage period.
AppleCare+ (also offers unlimited in-person or telephone technical support for two years from Apple. If a covered repair needs to be made under AppleCare+, a $50.00 deductible will apply. Keep in mind, however, that AppleCare+ must be purchased within 30 days of purchasing a new iPhone.
An alternative to AppleCare+ is third-party insurance. In some cases, in addition to covering iPhone damage, it also covers loss or theft of the Smartphone. SquareTrade and Worth Ave. Group are two reputable companies that offer optional iPhone insurance coverage.
SquareTrade offers a two-year coverage plan for any model iPhone for $99.00. It includes comprehensive accidental damage protection, but no technical support, like AppleCare+. A $50.00 deductible applies to all claims, and it does not cover loss or theft.
Worth Ave. Group allows you to purchase iPhone coverage for a one, two, or three year period, starting at $55.00. The fee varies based on your iPhone model and the duration of the insurance policy. Coverage for an iPhone 4S with 64GB will cost $99.00 for one year, $198.00 for two years, or $297.00 for three years. In addition to accidental damage, this policy covers loss or theft. A $50.00 deductible applies for all claims, but unlike its competitors, an unlimited number of claims can be made during the coverage period.
In addition to acquiring insurance coverage for your iPhone, consider investing in a clear, full-body, thin protective film for it. This will help to protect it from scratches, dirt and other damage. A broken, cracked, or scratched screen, caused by any number of factors, is one of the most common problems people experience with their iPhone. By applying a thin protective film over the device, which does not impact its use (or the screen’s clarity) whatsoever, you will dramatically reduce the chances of damaging the phone’s screen.
Many companies offer clear protective films for just the screen of the iPhone or for its entire body. Zagg.com’s Invisible Shield ($29.99) can be applied in minutes. It utilizes a very strong, 0.2mm thick, clear, puncture-resistant, military-grade material.
In addition to insurance protection and potentially applying a thin protective film over your phone, investing in a quality case is also a good strategy to protect it against being dropped or crushed.
What to Do if Your iPhone Breaks, but it’s Not Covered by Insurance
Chances are, you know people who have experienced a broken cell phone due to a “stupid” or “careless” accident, yet you may have thought to yourself, “That could never happen to me.” Well, if you’re one of those people, and something does happen to your iPhone, but you have no insurance coverage for it, get ready to pay some hefty fees for repairs.
Through Apple, the average price to fix or replace an iPhone’s screen, for example, without insurance coverage, is $150.00. If a repair can’t be made, the price to replace an iPhone 4S altogether could exceed $849.00.
If you damage your iPhone, first bring it into any Apple Store to determine the extent of the damage and obtain an estimate for the repair. In situations when a replacement phone is required, depending on the situation, an Apple Store may be willing to replace the phone for the subsidized retail price ($199.99), even if you’re in the middle of your service contact with your wireless service provider.
Another alternative is to seek out a non-Apple repair center. Many large malls across America have kiosks that repair broken iPhones on the spot. Fees vary from $100.00 to $300.00, depending on the extent of the damage. There are also online-based companies that offer iPhone repairs for a bit less, but you’ll need to send your phone to them.
iFixYouri.com , for example, charges between $29.99 and $189.99 for common repairs, which for the iPhone 4S includes a cracked screen ($99.99), water damage ($29.99), volume button repair ($69.99), frame repair ($189.99), vibrate switch repair ($69.99), microphone repair ($69.99), front or rear camera repair ($59.99), ear speaker repair ($39.99), main speaker repair ($79.99), Home Button repair ($59.99), power button repair ($69.99), and/or dock connector repair ($79.99). A battery replacement will cost $69.99.
If you opt to use an online-based repair service that requires you to send in your iPhone, determine what additional fees are charged for shipping to and from the company, making sure the package is insured both ways, and that it’s shipped using a service that provides a tracking number and/or proof of delivery. Also, determine what the repair and turn-around shipping time will be, so you can calculate how long you’ll be without an operational phone.
You Can Perform the Required iPhone Repairs Yourself
iCracked.com is a chain of in-mall kiosks that perform while-you-wait iPhone repairs. The company also offers the option to ship your phone in for repair. In addition, iCracked.com offers considerably less expensive do-it-yourself repair kits that allow you to fix common iPhone damage-related problems yourself.
The iCracked.com do-it-yourself repair kits include access to free online-based instructional videos which demonstrate how to perform the repair yourself using the tools and parts provided with the kits. The available do-it-yourself kits, which can be ordered online from the company’s website, include: Screen/LCD Replacement ($74.99), Water Damage Repair ($49.99), and Battery Replacement ($34.99). Be sure to choose the appropriate kit for your specific iPhone model. Once you receive the kit, plan on spending between 45 minutes and two hours performing the repair yourself (less if you consider yourself to be savvy at this type of repair work).
If you’re able to diagnose the iPhone’s problem (or you bring it to an Apple Store and they tell you exactly what’s wrong), another option is to use an Internet search engine to find and purchase the specific replacement parts you need, and then attempt to perform the repair yourself. This is the least expensive option. However, you’ll also need the appropriate tools and instructions, which come with complete repair kits, but not with individual replacement parts.
Replacing a Broken iPhone
Instead of repairing your existing iPhone, it might make financial sense to purchase a used or refurbished phone to replace it outright. These can be purchased online for a lot less than the cost of a new phone. AT&T Wireless sells refurbished iPhones, as does Verizon Wireless and Best Buy.
By performing a search for “Refurbished iPhones” using Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, for example, you’ll also find dozens of other companies that offer lower-priced used or refurbished phones, with which you can replace your broken iPhone. Used iPhones are also readily available on eBay.com and Craigslist.org from individuals who have since upgraded phones or have switch service providers.
Maintain a Backup of Your iPhone
Regardless of what you use your iPhone for, chances are, you store important information on it and throughout the day update that information. On an ongoing basis, it’s a good strategy to maintain a backup of your iPhone, using the iTunes Sync process, the iTunes Wireless Sync process, or iCloud. Then, if your iPhone gets damaged, lost, or stolen, you can get it repaired or replaced quickly and then easily restore your data.
If you use iCloud to backup your iPhone’s data, using any computer or mobile device that’s web accessible, you can access your Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, and iWork app-related data, files, and documents simply by visiting http://http://www.iCloud.com and signing in using your Apple ID.
When it comes to protecting your iPhone, don’t assume you’re immune from accidents like dropping your iPhone, having liquid spill on it, dropping it into a sink, lake, or a toilet, or accidently crushing it when you stick it in your back pocket, forget it’s there, and sit down. With AppleCare+ or third-party insurance, any of these accidents will cost you no more than $50.00 for repairs, regardless of how extensive the damage is. Without insurance, similar repairs could cost hundreds of dollars.
While you must purchase AppleCare+ from Apple (or an authorized Apple reseller) within 30 days of purchasing a new iPhone. you can obtain third-party insurance for your iPhone at anytime from a company like SquareTrade or Worth Ave. Group. If you’re planning to upgrade to the iPhone 5 upon its release, this is a perfect time to also purchase insurance coverage for it.
Jason R. Rich (http://www.JasonRich.com) is an avid iPhone and iPad user, and is the bestselling author of more than 54 books, including Your iPad At Work: 2nd Edition (Que), iPad and iPhone Tips and Tricks (Que), Using iPhone iOS 5 Edition (Que) and iPad 2 Essentials (Que). He’s also a frequent contributor to numerous national magazines, major daily newspapers and popular websites. You can follow him on Twitter (@JasonRich7).