A few weeks ago, Graziela Benedet from RepairLaunch.com contacted me and suggested writing an article about repairing cell phones. While cell phone repair isn’t exactly a “green building” topic, repairing home electronics and appliances is, and, frankly, repairing electronics is generally better for the environment than replacing. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. That 20 year old fridge you’re still using has more than outlived its useful life and is probably costing you more in electricity than it’s worth. Your old TV in the basement that weighs 700 lbs (okay, maybe it just feels like it), could stand an upgrade and save you electricity consumption too. However, when it comes to cell phones, and technological toys in general, I really have a bee in my bonnet about them. I hate to finger point, but Apple is at the core of this problem, and yes, while I know that they have been making great strides in their environmental stewardship program, all of their environmental steps mean squat if they keep producing new and “next generation” products well before their “old” products have outlived their useful life. Here’s a perfect example: my son recently complained that his iTouch (that he scrimped and saved for using birthday and odd jobs money) was old and outdated and he needed a new one — and he’d only had it for a year! I’m picking on Apple because of the big splash they made in 2010 with the iPad and iPhone 4G launch (did they launch the MacBook Air too?), but all electronics companies are guilty of this practice (Sony, Nintendo, Samsung…).
RepairLaunch highlights the negative effects of throwing away your old electronics if they’re not managed properly — which, sadly, is most of the time. Repairing a cellphone prolongs its life and lessens the toxins let into the environment by old cell phones and reduces demand for new ones. RepairLaunch not only provides a mail-in service for repairing cellphones, the website also lists local affiliates where you can get your phone or other electronics repaired (only a few are in Canada, the rest in the US). The site is full of information on e-waste including how many toxins leach out of electronics into landfills and tips on what to look for in a reputable cell phone repair place. Below is the article Graziela sent me on behalf of RepairLaunch.
Tips for Repairing your Cell Phone
The repair service industry has seen an increase recently as expensive phones and other personal electronics tend to break easily are very costly to buy without a long term carrier plan to come with them. The reason starts with Apple, who maintains a minimum in overall products and as a result produces products that can be fixed at a respectable price. Through this, more and more places are opening up to repair other models of phones, such as HTC and Motorola as well as the variety of computers and media players.
Here is a top 5 list of things to keep in mind when buying your cell phone.
Cost of repairs
The cost of a repair depends on what the problem is. For stores to order parts at a reasonable price, they must look to wholesalers in China. The problem is, even from China, the cost of some parts is extremely expensive. The older models of iPhone (3G, 3Gs) had the screen separated from the LCD. While this could cause dust to get in between, it makes screen repair much cheaper. With those models, just because the screen cracks does not mean the LCD is harmed. So, instead of spending $150 or more to get it repaired, it only costs $60. If a repair costs more than $150, the customer will likely consider starting new. The water damage problem is one that will never go away. Service typically charge $100 or more for this service, depending on if a part is needed.
Don’t Order the wrong thing
If you are confident in your skills with DIY repair, make sure you diagnose the problem correctly. First. Ordering the wrong parts can be a very bad thing and often time ruins a phone. The best thing to do if you have any questions is contact the people you are buying parts from.
You are legally permitted to jailbreak and unlock your phone. This is a cool thing because people can now use their favorite phone on any carrier. Many phone companies are conceding to the legalities of the issue and while not always making easy, certainly are not making it any harder.
DIY repairs are hard
The growing amount of videos and manuals are very encouraging. Unfortunately, DIY repairs themselves are still very difficult for the average Joe. It does not have to be this way. It would be awesome if people knew that if they broke their phone, they could easily order a cheap part and fix it. As it stands now, most phones require and intense amount of organization and know-how that most people do not possess.
Many accessories that are sold don’t do much to protect the phone and can actually cause more damage. If a phone cover is not designed correctly, dirt can collect, scratching and even cracking the phone down the line. Others are just plain misleading, such as the bumpers sold for the iPhone 4. These were once called “protective” bumpers but don’t protect the iPhone at all. Seriously, not even a little.
Even by taking the “protective” out of their marketing pitch, the name “bumper” in itself is misleading. When the iPhone 4 antenna problems came about, Apple started giving these things out for free to correct the issue. While it can help with reception issues, other protective cases can help with reception as well as protect the device. Now there are a bunch of users walking around thinking they have a protected device, but this is not true in the slightest.
You should look at your phone purchase as a significant investment. The parts are valued, for the typical smartphone over $150. This means that even when your phone breaks, the phone is still worth something to someone, most likely a local repair shop.