These days one can’t expect a smartphone to last for more than two to three years. Even if we have an expensive iPhone in our hand, we tend to get a new one because the old phone needs major repairment, in terms of its battery, screen, or other fixes. This could be because it’s harder to repair a phone, and much easier to invest in a new, upgraded one. Many laptops have removable batteries, and so you can just buy its replacement in case the battery is unable to hold charge. However, most smartphones now come with built-in batteries that are difficult to replace or repair.
If you’ve held onto a phone for a couple of years, it may not hold a charge the way it used to. As Apple’s “Batterygate” controversy revealed, this can also lead to your phone slowing down or shutting off randomly. The more you charge and deplete batteries, the more they degrade. According to a recent study by HYLA Mobile, the average age of a smartphone traded was 2.38 years in 2016 . By 2018, that number increased to 2.77 years. For iPhones, which have gotten really expensive in recent years, it climbed even higher to 2.92 years old.
In other words, since phone prices became more daunting, people resorted to keeping smartphones for longer periods. And yet, three years is still a comparatively short life for such an expensive gadget. A $700 laptop might last for three to five years, while a $1,000 plus laptop could last several more. However, if you use your smartphone well, you may be able to keep it for a longer duration. Depending on the phone you have, you may be able to repair it on your own. iFixit breaks down the most popular phones and gives them a repairability score.
Whether you repair a phone yourself or take it to a service centre, there are a few common parts that can make your phone last longer. Replacing your phone’s battery will get you more mileage than any other repair. Most manufacturers’ batteries last about two years before serious degradation. The screen is usually one of the most expensive components, so even if you do the repair yourself, it can be costly (but still cheaper than buying a new phone).
Screen repair kits come with everything you need to fix a cracked display, including the screen and the digitiser — the part that detects where you tap your finger — and most include the tools you’ll need for the replacement. A majority of popular phones have many kits can be bought online. In some cases, you may be able to replace just the glass, which can be a lot cheaper. Depending on the model, Apple charges as much as $330 for a screen replacement if you don’t have AppleCare+, the company’s extended service plan. Some Android phone repairs can be similarly expensive. You can save a lot of money if you fix the screen yourself, but the process can be difficult. The good news is that as long as you don’t break it again, your screen and glass should work far longer than any phone manufacturer will support your phone.
There are also minor things you can do to keep your phone working. Ensure that you always clean your charging port out with some fine tweezers or a port cleaning tool before going through the trouble to swap the port itself. If you want to repair your phone, you have three main options. The first and potentially cheapest is to do the repair yourself. Sites like iFixit have detailed guides that walk you through every step of opening most phones for common repairs. You may need special tools like suction cups, plastic picks or specialty screwdriver bits (like Apple’s notorious pentalobe screw). Some phones are more difficult to open than others, so be sure to research your phone model before you buy tools or parts.
The most expensive but safest option is to get a repair directly from the manufacturer. Apple, Google, Samsung and most other manufacturers will replace your battery, screen and other parts for a fee. For iPhones, you can head to any Apple store, while Samsung partners with a company called uBreakiFix that has 500 locations across the country. Using an officially authorised repair center guarantees that your phone’s manufacturer won’t deny you service if you need a repair or help from them in the future.
Unauthorised repairs, done by a computer shop can save you money, but manufacturers often try to penalise you if you go down that route. Some manufacturers include controversial “warranty seal” stickers that they use to claim the warranty as void if they’ve been broken or removed. The Federal Trade Commission reminded companies in 2018 that this practice is illegal. Similarly, in 2017, leaked documents revealed that Apple would refuse service for any issue if it found a third-party battery while performing a repair. The company recently reversed this policy, but will refuse repairs if it finds other third-party components, like logic boards or microphones.