What is the best iPhone repair option when you drop your phone? A friend of mine is a repeat offender. This is the second iPhone she has dropped, both times cracking her screen. She uses band-aids to keep it together. She's not alone, according to electronics warranty provider, SquareTrade, 11 percent of iPhone owners have a cracked screen. Six percent of them have used tape to hold their phone together (I wonder if band-aids are considered tape).
Americans spent 5.9 billion dollars on iPhone repairs
SquareTrade estimates that Americans have spent a total of 5.9 billion dollars for damaged phones. The estimate includes iPhone repairs, iPhone replacements, and money paid for deductibles on iPhone insurance and were calculated for the time period starting June 2007 through August 2012. As SquareTrade illustrates in the graphic on their Facebook page, the amount of repairs is 100 million dollars more than Obama and Romney will have spent on their combined presidential campaigns, and twice as much as Americans spend on toilet paper every year (2.6 billion dollars).
What we do to our iPhones
According to the SquareTrade Accidental Survey, conducted in August 2012, thirty percent of iPhone owners have damaged their phone in the last year. Seventeen percent have damaged their iPhone more than once. In fact, you are ten times more likely to damage your iPhone than to lose it or have it stolen. The survey asked how owners broke their iPhones.
The most common causes of iPhone damage:
- Fell out of my hand — 30%
- Immersed in liquid (toilet or other water) — 18%
(Take it out of your pocket before going to the restroom!)
- Fell out of my lap — 13%
- Knocked it off table 11%
- Spilled liquid on it 9%
Which warranty service is best?
Of course, SquareTrade conducted this survey because they offer warranties on electronics. Still, with a replacement iPhone costing as much as $700, it may bring you peace of mind to get a warranty.
Along with third-party warranties like SquareTrade, there are options to pay monthly for insurance from your cell phone carrier, and from Apple. SquareTrade covers everything but theft. Cellphone carrier insurance has a high deductible. Apple Care doesn't cover theft, but offers software technical support.
SquareTrade's warranties are a pretty good deal, provide good coverage, and a relatively low deductible. The cost of covering an iPhone 5 with 16 GB is $9 for 2-years. It covers everything from spills to drops, broken dock connectors, or if it just won't power on. The only thing it doesn't cover is loss or theft.
SquareTrade allows you to take the phone to a local repair shop, Genius bar at an Apple store, or you can send it in for fast service.
Cell Phone carrier insurance
My insurance with AT&T runs $7 per month and has a $200 deductible. Unlike SquareTrade, it covers loss and theft. In the terms and conditions of the AT&T coverage, it states that cracked display is not covered if the phone can still be used. It also states that it doesn't cover acts of war —rebellions, revolutions, a nuclear explosion—-or earthquakes and other acts of nature.
Apple Care is offered by Apple and runs $49 for 2 years of coverage. If not bought at the time you buy the phone, you can add Apple Care within 30 days of purchase but an Apple Genius Bar employee must verify that there is no damage prior to getting coverage. If, like me, you don't live near an Apple store, this wouldn't be an option.
If the damage is a manufacturers defect, there is no deductible. However, if it is accidental damage, there is a $49 "service fee" and it covers up two incidents in a 12 month period. Apple Care goes beyond insurance coverage. It includes technical support for software including: iPhone iOS and iCloud, connecting to wireless networks, and help with Apple apps (Mail, Maps, iTunes, Safari, Remote).
The Bottom Line
Basically, if you are clumsy or hard on your phone, SquareTrade is the best insurance for you. If you are forgetful, or in a lot of situations where someone might steal your phone, choose the insurance from your cellphone carrier. If you want someone to call to help you with your software even if you never break your phone, choose Apple Care.