I have joined the clumsy throng: I have cracked my iPhone screen.
“I got into this by learning to fix my own phone,” said Dakota Claussen of Quick Fix Tech Repair downtown (619-702-8071; quickfixtechrepair.com). “Then I started fixing my friends’ phones. Once you do things often enough, it becomes easy. We use suction cups to remove the glass, and then we vacuum the phone thoroughly to remove any remaining bits. We’ll also do a free diagnosis of the phone. If it’s not charging properly, we can replace the battery or the charger port [$10–$50]. We can even replace buttons that aren’t working properly [$20–$50]. If you just have a clogged port, we’ll use tweezers to clean it out.”
Most people, said Claussen, come in for cracked iPhone screens. “But we can repair most other models, like Samsung, as well — usually within an hour. We replace the whole screen, and the cost is usually $59–$99, depending on the model. An iPhone 4 would be in the $59 range, but the newer iPhone 5c would be in the $99 range. We offer a 30-day parts-and-labor warranty. Screen protectors aren’t included with the new screen, but we will sell you one for $8.
“We’ve had phones come in after they’ve been run over by cars or thrown off three-story buildings and we’ve been able to fix them,” said Claussen. And in the worst-case scenario — wetness — “the best thing to do is turn the phone off right away. We can help you dry it out. We can take it apart for you. Then we suggest you go home and put it in rice. Bring it back to us in 48 hours and we’ll put it back together and see if we can get it working. Sometimes, all it needs is a new battery.”
Claussen noted that he was in the process of getting his technicians Apple-certified. Bruno Silveira of Wireless Repair in Pacific Beach (858-270-1242; wireless-repair.com) isn’t Apple-certified either. But, he says, “the Apple Store sends people to us sometimes because their customers can’t afford what they offer. They need a cheaper solution. About 80 percent of our repairs are phone screens. They usually take 15–20 minutes. We’ll fix it right in front of you if you like, but I have a great location if you want to drop it off: there’s a Starbucks right across the street, plus many restaurants.”
Cost is between $55 and $100 for the iPhone 4 and 5s screens. “We haven’t started fixing the iPhone 6 yet, because the screen alone costs $250, and nobody wants to pay that. We’re waiting for the price to go down. There are a lot of parts suppliers out there, and we try them all, looking for the best price for the best product. We offer a 30-day warranty, but I’ve replaced screens after three months when I could determine that the part was bad. I also replace batteries and fix charging ports [$40–$50] and sell screen protectors [$5].”
Tim Clerkx of SD Cell Phone Repair in North Park (858-344-2575; sdcellphonerepair.com) explained that “the glass on a phone used to be glued in over the screen, but now, the screen and the glass are glued together. So if the glass cracks, the whole screen has to be replaced. I make $35, no matter if it’s a 2002 flip phone or a 2015 Samsung. It’s the cost of that part that makes the difference in price. So, the average iPhone repair is $70 to $80, but my overall cost for other phones is $110 to $150, because those phones have more expensive parts.”
Clerkx can fix most phones in an hour and offers a 30-day warranty. Charging port repairs are $40–$70, “and I sell good-quality screen protectors for $10. For wet phones, I say, ‘Come in fast.’ It’s not water that kills the phone, it’s corrosion. If you bring it right in and I take it apart and clean it, there’s a 95 percent chance that the phone will come back on again.”
Finally, Clerkx counseled against hasty replacement of a damaged phone. “Your carrier may offer you a new phone for just $100, but if you get an extended contract, you end up with more money out of pocket in the long run.”