Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tech Column: Smartphone Repair

How can you describe sadness?  How can you explain to somebody a feeling of overwhelming despair?  If you've never been overwhelmed by darkness that fills every vein, then take a look at the photo to the left and you may get a glimpse of how I felt when gravity overpowered the iPhone.

You know what?  The iPhone is now as good as new.  What looks like cataclysmic destruction was completely reversed by a company called iResq.  (Cute name, isn't it?)

iResq is one of many return-by-mail smartphone repair companies.  There are also places that will fix phones while you wait:  If your phone is damaged and you live in a medium or large city, chances are that you can find a place that will repair your phone locally.  Inovagent, in the Washington, DC area, is one such place that can fix screens, replace internal batteries, and fix other broken parts, including buttons.  Inovagent can even remove your phone's camera.  Why would you want to remove your phone's camera?  If you work in one of Washington, DC's special no-cameras-allowed buildings, you may need to have your phone neutered.

Smartphones are powerful computers.  But they're also more fragile than desktops or even laptops.  An unprotected smartphone often fares poorly against concrete pavement.  They're simply not built to last, especially iPhones with non-replaceable batteries that peter out in a year or two.  Your original smartphone might have cost $100 or $200 because you were eligible for an "upgrade" --the term cell phone companies use to say "we'll give you a discount to lock you into another two year contract"-- but you might have to pay full retail price for a new one, and that can be $500 or more.

So if your smartphone has a encounter of the worst kind, there is hope.  Hope that won't cause your heart to skip a beat when your credit card bill arrives.

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