Smartphone Woes

July 20, 2010

Written by wukovits

Smartphones are great and once you have one, you probably can’t live without it, but there are drawbacks to being a smartphone user.  While a new phone customer can purchase one for much cheaper as they sign away their life for two years to the cellular provider, existing customers can also see a discount when they “upgrade”, which gets you for another two years.  The phone providers can afford to sell these smartphones at a lesser rate, knowing they have your money safe in their pockets for the next few years.

One feature that has taken the industry by storm is the “touchscreen”, allowing a user to interface with the phone by pressing the display itself.  This in itself is great technology, but it does have a few drawbacks.  The touchscreen will consume your battery very quickly; a case in point is the Apple iPhone; it’s a terrific device that features a touchscreen, allowing the user to navigate one of the most user-friendly interfaces ever seen on any device.  The large touchscreen requires the phone to be charged daily, if you use it like most people.  Any smartphone user that uses a touchscreen phone will probably have similar issues with battery life.

Another drawback of having a touchscreen is physical damage, and having a big glass screen practically paints a target on your phone for breakage.  Touchscreens can break rather easily, as a simple slip from your hand can land your phone on multitude of hard surfaces, all of which can crack that digitizer (the glass on top of the screen), the LCD (the part underneath that displays the images), or even both.  Not only that, any kind of harsh treatment can jostle the internal components of these devices, and if you’ve ever opened on up, it’s a lot of technology in a very tight space.

When you break your smartphone, you have a few options.  You can get another one from your cellphone provider, which will come as a shock when you see what the price is if you aren’t eligible for an upgrade.  For example, the iPhone 3Gs with 16GB of storage is available for $99 with a new contract or upgrade.  Without, you will be paying more than $500 for a new one.  That’s where you can really see how much that two-year contact is worth to them.  If you have a warranty, it typically doesn’t cover physical damage like broken screens or water-damage, so sending it off to Apple will cost you less than $500, but it usually costs more than $200.  Not only that, you’ll be without a phone for as long as it takes them to fix it.

More recently, local repair shops have started to emerge, but be cautioned.  There is no certification for iPhone repair, and no standardized certification for any smartphone repair. So any repair shop that advertises themselves as “Certified Technicians” might be certified in some other technology, but it certainly isn’t iPhone repair.  Also beware prices for repair that seems too good to be true; they could be using cheap parts or don’t warranty their work.  Repair from a local shop is usually the best route to take for savings and convenience, but be sure to use a reputable one.

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