The Cost of Accidentally Dropping Your Phone

My iPhone once survived a 10-foot drop off of a subway train platform. I was holding the phone in my right and trying to push it into my coat pocket before exiting the subway car. When it slipped out of my hand, I grasped for it, but only managed to grab onto my headphones and phone case.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority successfully recovered my phone after I waited patiently for two hours. I got it back in one piece: no damage, no cracks, and as clean as it ever was. That was the moment I decided to stop wearing a case on my phone, because what’s the point if it can survive a 10-foot jump off a subway train platform?

Fifty drops later, my phone had had enough. My phone dropped two feet off of a small bookcase shelf where I was charging it, and when I picked it up, much to my surprise and dismay, there were dozens of cracks and crevices that appeared like spiderwebs on the glass cover.

The first time I saw a cracked iPhone was four years ago, and it belonged of a friend who didn’t have insurance and decided to keep it how it was until he eventually got used to it. A cracked iPhone screen will eventually become a part of who you are, your aesthetic, the style that your friends recognize you by, unless you do something about it.


Choose Your Own (Broken iPhone) Adventure:

1) Call your provider and purchase insurance for $100-200 or something obscene like that. One month later, make a claim.

2) If you bought your iPhone at a third party store, check with that store independently of your service provider. You may have inadvertently gotten insurance that wasn’t tracked to your provider. (The Verizon third party store where I got my phone mysteriously shut down a month ago.)

3) Buy a new iPhone. Who are you, and can you pay my student loans?

4) Ask friends and family if they have a spare phone lying around. Downgrading may be better than nothin’.

5) Make an appointment with the Apple Genius Bar. Prepare to spend over $200 to fix or be talked into replacing the phone.

6) Go to a third party Apple-repair shop. Prepare to spend $150 to fix the phone.

7) After walking away from the Genius Bar, still with a broken phone, decide to purchase a new cell phone case ($24.95) and screen protector ($17.95) because you gave up.

8) Become a Luddite—the kind of Luddites that still have MacBook Pros and access to the public library.

9) Live with your cracked phone for however long your contract ends. Your eyes will learn to adjust focus to the screen and forget that the glass is even broken. New friends will make comments like “Whoa, your screen is cracked!” and you will shrug like it’s nothing. The cracked screen will soon become an extension of yourself.

10) Wait until designer fashion lines launch special edition phone screens and cases that make unbroken phones look broken. Then you’d really be in style!

Have you ever had to pay for accidental damage to your phone? Do you, too, have a broken screen and how has it become a part of your personality?


Julia Lipscomb is a grad student and writer in New York.


13 Comments / Post A Comment

andnowlights (#2,902)

I haven’t broken my screen, but I have to hold the case together on my 3GS to press the top button now. I basically refuse to get a new phone until the last possible second (which is now this Sunday or Monday because my mom is forcing me to get a new one before our vacation). At this point, it’s entirely on principle. Plus I’ve had my phone since before I was married- I got it 4 years ago in May.

romancandles (#6,632)

Per the advice of a coworker, I bought a “fix it yourself” screen replacement kit for about $60 on Amazon (there were options as low as $5, but they looked janky and ineffective). The kit came with a new front piece, teeny tiny plastic “tools” that ultimately broke mid-repair, and a url for a YouTube tutorial that was actually very helpful. Y’ALL, IT WAS HARROWING and took about FIVE HOURS, during which my boyfriend ultimately took over after he’d heard the f-bomb so many times. Do. Not. Recommend.

@romancandles I’ll second that. I’m a techie and tinkerer but for the life of me, I would never do it myself. I tried it once (on an Android so it may be different on an iPhone) and ended up breaking the second screen and the cable to the front camera. Never again.

rhinoceranita (#5,858)

My sister washed my phone in the washing machine once. It still worked after living with the rice for a few days (holla, Asian households with 50lb bags of rice!). She paid for someone to swap out the water sensors and then took it to Apple and they replaced it.

Cat Named Louise (#1,943)

$140 to replace the screen on my 3-day-old google nexus. The plus is that I got to meet the Russian lady who rents some crummy Soho office space and replaces phone screens out of there. I watched her order the screen online for $110 (she keeps iphone and samsung screen around, BTW), and the $30 labour fee seemed super reasonable! I love the world of crummy New York offices and the people who run their tiny businesses there. ALSO: now my boyfriend and I have a joint account that is our phone-repair insurance. $10 a month goes in there, rather than T-mobile for their bullshit “insurance.”

mintjulips (#6,277)

@Cat Named Louise It sounds like you may have more than a few good stories of the world of crummy New York offices and the people who run their tiny businesses there… There’s the obvious luxurious office buildings in Midtown or Wall Streetthat people typically think of when they think of New York office spaces. But where are all the crummy office spaces?

honey cowl (#1,510)

A college friend of mine started her own mobile smart phone repair business in my city! It’s going really well for her because people break these things all the time, and then they do like @romancandles and try to fix it themselves, and most of them just fuck it up even more.

Best option: obsessively scour groupon for specials on screen repair. I got mine repaired in an hour for $50.

readyornot (#816)

Back in the era of tiny flip phones, I once flushed a phone down the toilet. Long story! The saddest part is the guy I’d just met at a concert may or may not ever have called? I think I was still paying $5/month for insurance then, and the phone company replaced it. Later, when a phone was stolen, I went through some terrible ebayers who were selling water-damaged phones or phones with defective batteries. Annoying!

Amazingly, now that the phones I use are really, truly expensive, I haven’t screwed up as badly. I had my first smartphone for four years, and my iPhone (current phone) for a little over six months. So far, so good!

nutmeg (#1,383)

I broke my iPod touch screen a couple of months ago and I’m still sad about it. I live in constant fear of dropping my iPad and breaking the screen. I have a logitech keyboard and so I can’t really get a case for it. I’m kind of considering getting a case/keyboard combination to replace the keyboard because constant fear

womb bat (#3,498)

I spent $300 on a used Nokia Lumia 1020 from Ebay a few months ago because I wanted to have a really nice cell phone camera. After I’d had it for a week it stopped working entirely. AT&T replaced it for me because it was still under warranty with them (the phone is less than a year old) and didn’t have any cracks or water damage. I almost didn’t bother going in to AT&T because I figured they couldn’t do anything with a third party purchased phone.

saretonin (#4,351)

This article is super topical! I just got my iphone screen replaced for $60 by a strange man who referred to himself as only Fixx my Crack, who works at NASA, but not for NASA, and fixes phones in his car. In any case, my screen had been cracked for about 3 months and I thought it was fine, but now that I have a non-cracked screen, I can definitively say that this is better.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

I’ve never had one break, but I did get one stolen. SUPER BUMMER.

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