A phone with a cracked screen or broken camera can mean an expensive repair, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars. So what about fixing your own smartphone?
Until last year, it was nearly impossible, as Apple and other phone manufacturers did not offer parts to the general public.
Under pressure, however, those companies are finally offering parts and instructions to D-I-Y'ers, who want to make an attempt to repair their own phones.
Should you try fixing your own phone?
But is trying to repair your damaged smartphone really a smart idea? Some iPhone owners we spoke with said they would be up for the challenge.
"I think it's a great idea and a great opportunity," one woman told us.
She and other owners can now go to Apple or Samsung's websites, and order repair kits for some popular phones.
But repair experts caution that while replacing a cracked screen might sound easy, it is nothing like changing the screen protector.
You have to open the phone and disconnect many tiny wires and parts, and if you break one, you can ruin your whole phone.
Bashar Alvustani owns a phone repair shop called Wireless Technologies.
"They can damage the board inside the phone, and maybe the phone will never come back on," he said.
Alvustani showed us that to change a screen or camera, you must first carefully remove the battery, which is tricky. Then, he said, you must remove the front of the phone without breaking any of the thin ribbon wires that connect the screen to the motherboard.
Once you get a new screen in place, you must put it all back together with tiny screwdrivers, being careful not to strip any of the several screws holding everything in place.
Chandra Steele of PCMag is even blunter.
"I don't think there are any consumers who should really consider repairing their phone," she said.
Repair kits can be big, heavy, and clumsy
First of all, manufacturers say you must have the exact parts and screwdrivers needed.
Steele says not only is a D-I-Y repair risky, but repair kits that you need to borrow (unless you own the proper tools) are heavy.
For $49, Apple will rent you a repair station made up of:
- Two suitcases stacked 47 inches high.
- One case weighs 43 pounds.
- The other case is 36 pounds.
That's 79 pounds total, delivered to your home for a week (at least Apple pays for the shipping).
"The reality is you have to get this huge piece of equipment that repairs shops have," Steele said.
Don't forget, when you are done, you have to ship the kit back.
An easier solution? PC Mag suggests you:
- Visit an authorized repair shop.
- Pay extra for a protection plan or extended warranty.
That way, the repair may be free, and you don't have to deal with tiny screws and parts.
Bottom line: Think hard before you open up your phone because if you damage it further, there may be no going back.
That way, you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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