Last Thanksgiving, I dropped my iPhone in the parking lot of a supermarket as I was preoccupied with my grocery bags. The screen cracked in a beautiful spider-web-like pattern. I had to replace my phone. It was supposed to cost me $200, but I haggled my way down to zero. Still, the experience changed me. I became obsessed with learning about smart-phone security, and not the online hacking kind.
If you use your phone as much as I do, you’re bound to drop it. In fact, a recent study by Comcast’s Plaxo, a research company that focuses on trends in mobile device use, claims a third of us lose or damage our phones.
If you think you might be one of them, or already are, here are a few things you can do to avoid costly repair charges (Apple charges $199 if you don’t have a warranty) both before your phone takes the plunge and after…
1. To prevent water damage
Admit it, we like to use our smart phones in the bathroom. The Plaxo study also found that 1 in 5 people admitted to dropping their phones in the toilet.
If you absolutely must bring your smart phone close to water, at least consider a waterproof case. Here’s a list of five options under $100 from the L.A. Times, complete with pros and cons.
2. To prevent a crack
All it took to shatter my phone was a parking lot — and pop went my screen. To protect your phone, consider a strong case. If you have an iPhone, one of the most popular options is Otterbox. The company also makes cases for Blackberry, Android, and other phones. They just released three new cases for Android phones. For cheaper prices (around the $30 range) and more design options, check out SwitchEasy.
3. To fix water damage
If your phone is in the toilet, in a puddle, or in your cappuccino, don’t panic. Take it out slowly, wipe off its outside, and set it down. While drying out things might seem simple enough, common sense could be your worst enemy in this situation.
According to tech magazine Popular Mechanics, you should stay away from hair dryers and microwaves. Instead, they suggest rice and silica gel packets, the small packs you might find inside new shoes and some electronics. Follow their guide to safely save your smart phone from drowning.
4. To fix a crack
If the damage to your phone is too extreme to fix yourself, it might be time to get some help. Like I said, Apple charges almost $200 for repairs.
Around the country, many generic cell phone stores also offer in-house repair. Or you can contact some of the national repair companies, like iFixYouri, with locations in three states and a mail-in service ($110 for iPhone 4 fix), or uBreakiFix, with locations in six states and a mail-in service ($120 for iPhone 4 fix).
While mailing your phone away might take longer, it’s definitely cheaper than Apple’s price tag.