Who Can Fix Your Broken iPhone? - InformationWeek
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Who Can Fix Your Broken iPhone?

Repairing a broken iPhone can be a pain, especially if it's the new iPhone 5, because parts aren't available yet. We look at repair services AppleCare+, SquareTrade, and iCracked to see who's best.

Repairing an iPhone--especially a brand-new one like the iPhone 5--can be a pain. Fortunately, many problems are fixable. But who do you choose to do the repair?

We did a quick review of some of the repair services available. There is Apple's own AppleCare+ insurance plan. Then there are companies like iCracked that specialize in fixing iOS devices--iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. iCracked handles broken screens, water damage, and battery replacements.

We compared the cost of using AppleCare+ vs. iCracked vs. SquareTrade, another insurance plan. The scenario: an iPhone 4S with a cracked screen. We found there isn't a huge difference in costs, but iCracked has the edge. Here's how it shakes out.

Let's start with AppleCare+. AppleCare+ costs $99 for two years. Under the insurance policy, a cracked screen--considered "accidental damage from handling"--costs $49 to repair. You're allowed two such repairs during the two years. The first broken screen would effectively cost $148--the cost of the policy plus the repair charge--to fix. A second instance--should you be klutzy enough to break the phone again within two years--would bring your total to $200.

The other insurance plan in our mini-comparison, SquareTrade's, charges $124 for two years of coverage, and a $50 deductible. This works out to $174 to repair our cracked screen, compared with $148 for AppleCare+.

The repair service iCracked would charge $124.99 to fix our screen. This is a savings over both AppleCare+ and SquareTrade, at least for a one-time incident.

iCracked is definitely the way to go if you have a freak accident and didn't insure your handset. It's also useful if you are out of warranty or bought it second-hand. Interestingly, many of the iPhones that iCracked gets are already covered by insurance, said CEO AJ Forsythe in a phone interview. "Most of our repairs are more convenient, or cheaper than the deductible," he said.

"No one wants to send their iPhone in for three days," said Forsythe, referring to the down time some users experience using AppleCare+. iCracked set up its own supply chain to insure it gets high-quality parts, he said. In addition, iCracked's technicians are located throughout the world, he said, with "300 guys in eight countries," to cut down on repair time.

Interviewing to become an iCracked "iTech" is a rigorous process, including background checks. Only 2% of those who apply make it into the training program, said Forsythe. He said that in the future, iCracked hopes to expand its repair service to include a full buy-back service.

With any luck your iPhone will never need fixing. A series of tests showed it to be much tougher than the Samsung Galaxy S III.

If you break your iPhone 5, you might be out of luck, at least for now. New iPhones are still on back order, according to Apple, so finding replacement parts could be difficult. Some reports say Apple will do in-store repairs. When we called Apple stores randomly chosen from this list, employees invariably asked us to bring our phones in to be looked at, but also told us that they didn't have parts right now.

iCracked said it would have iPhone 5 parts in a few weeks.

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