Is It Worth It to Repair Your Smartphone?

Repairing vs. Replacing a Broken Cellphone

Woman with shattered cell phone
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Oscar Wong / Getty Images

A damaged or broken smartphone is a headache you might have encountered at least once. According to a 2019 survey by Ting Mobile, 64% of mobile phone users have experienced a cracked screen, while 51% have lost a phone to water or liquid damage, and 30% reported dropping a smartphone into a toilet.

Breaking your phone brings up an important question: Does it make more sense to repair it or replace it? 

While the answer depends on various factors, like your personal financial situation or the enormity of the damage, these tips can help you decide when to fix a broken phone or invest in a new one. 

Factors to Consider When Fixing a Smartphone

There are several factors that can influence whether you should attempt to repair a damaged smartphone, including:

  • Age of the phone
  • How extensively it's damaged
  • How long it may take to fix it
  • The cost of repairing it versus replacing it
  • Whether the damage is covered by a warranty or insurance

These factors can also play off one another in affecting your decision-making. For example, if you recently purchased a new phone, you may be more inclined to repair it. However, if you damaged an older phone, upgrading it to the newer model may be a better option.

In terms of the cost of repairing a cracked phone screen, the average person spends $113 to do so, according to Ting Mobile’s 2019 survey. Depending on your smartphone model, though, you could potentially spend less—or much more—to replace a cracked screen or make other repairs. According to warranty service provider SquareTrade, Americans spend $3.4 billion annually on repairing broken phone screens alone. Consider the pros and cons may help you decide before dishing out that kind of cash.  

Pros
  • A fix may be cheaper than a replacement

    No need to adjust to or learn how to use a new phone

    Some damage and repairs may be covered by your warranty or insurance


Cons
  • Depending on the smartphone, a repair could be more costly than a replacement

    Certain types of damage may not be repairable

    Your phone may not work as well as it did before, even after repairs



If you decide to repair a broken smartphone, check with your device manufacturer for a list of authorized repair partners that are experienced at fixing the type of phone you have. 

When Should You Fix Your Smartphone?

For those who don’t have warranty protection or insurance on their smartphone, attempting to repair your device on your own might be worth a try when damage is relatively minor.

For example, if you're one of the millions of Americans who crack their screens every year, some tips include covering your device with clear tape or a screen protector, or even purchasing a replacement screen and swapping it out yourself. However, there are risks involved in all three options, such as overspending on tools or causing more damage than before. 

In most cases, it is better to seek help from the professionals, whether that be from your device manufacturer, like Apple or Samsung, or your local repair shop. Take the iPhone for instance, Repairs to an iPhone 4 or newer model could cost you anywhere from $149 to $599 (out of warranty). 

Before making repairs yourself check to see if doing so would void your manufacturer's warranty.

When Should You Replace Your Smartphone?

In some cases, replacing your damaged smartphone might be better than fixing it. For example, you may think about replacing your phone if:

  • Doing so would cost less money than repairing it
  • Your current phone is outdated and you want to upgrade to a newer model
  • You have multiple issues, such as a cracked screen, buttons that won't work, and a malfunctioning speaker

The factors for repair versus replacement vary per person, so thinking about what you as an individual need from a smartphone can help you decide which option makes more sense. Costs of replacement, say if your phone can’t be fixed or is stolen, can be pretty expensive too if you’re not covered by a warranty of some kind. For new models of the Galaxy or iPhone, for example, you could be paying anywhere from $240 to over $1,000 for a new phone.  

If you have a contract phone versus a prepaid one, check to see if upgrading to a newer model would require you to sign a new contract and pay any additional fees.

Fixing vs. Replacing Your Smartphone

  Fixing   Replacing
Warranty or cellphone insurance may help cover some costs Warranty or cellphone insurance may help cover some costs
May be able to fix it on your own May be best to work with your device manufacturer or service provider
Could cost anywhere from $149 to over $500, depending on the model Could cost anywhere from $240 to over $1,000, depending on the model
Might be able to keep your contract the same May need to sign a new contract if you upgrade to a newer model

Should You Get Smartphone Insurance?

If you're concerned about the cost of repairing a broken smartphone, having cellphone insurance and/or warranty protection can help. 

According to Asurion, a company that offers cellphone insurance, warranties can offer protection for one to two years against device malfunctions. So, for example, if your smartphone's touch screen suddenly stops working without being caused by damage, your warranty may allow you to have the phone repaired or replaced at no extra cost. For Apple device owners, a warranty can be the difference between spending up to $600 on a new battery, as those with Apple Limited Warranty, AppleCare+, or consumer law receive service at no additional cost. 

Cellphone insurance, on the other hand, is optional coverage you can purchase through your cellphone company. Typically, you pay a monthly premium as well as a deductible if you need to use your coverage. Cellphone insurance can cover things like:

  • Cracked screens
  • Water damage
  • Malfunctions that are not covered by your phone warranty
  • Theft
  • Loss
  • Other damages

There may be limits on the number of claims you can file against your cellphone insurance policy per year. It’s best to use a judgment call when deciding whether or not to purchase insurance. If you’ve managed to keep your smartphone safe for years on end, insurance may not be worth the investment for you, for example. 

Key Takeaways

  • Repairing your smartphone could be a money-saving measure if you'd rather keep your current device versus upgrading.
  • Certain types of repairs may be covered by your manufacturer's warranty.
  • Cellphone insurance can cover damages or repairs that are not covered by a warranty, though you may be required to pay a premium and a deductible to use this coverage. 
  • There are some repairs you may feel comfortable making on your own, but consider whether that would void your warranty or cause additional damage to your device.