Oh, What We Do For Love: Apple Repairs Have Cost American Consumers $6 Billion Since 2007

I see people loving their iPhones, coddling them and stroking them and covering them with cutesy covers. But I also see my friends’ shattered screens threatening to lodge shards of screen glass in their ears or complaining that they’ve dropped their iPhone in the toilet (again) and railing about the cost to fix or replace it. And they’re not alone: A new study says American consumers have spent almost $6 billion to repair their iPhones since the phone’s 2007 birth.

The study by SquareTrade is based on a survey of more then 2,000 iPhone users, and found that just in the last year, 30% of phone owners have managed to somehow mess up their iPhones. It makes sense that something you always have within a few feet of your hand would get mucked about, dropped, thrown, accidentally tossed at that annoying beeping sound across the room when you’re asleep, etc.

The younger users are the clumsiest of iPhone owners (take THAT, kids!) and accidentally harming our phones is a more common problem than losing an iPhone or having it stolen.

According to the study, the top five issues we have with hurting iPhones are:

Phone dropped from my hand
Phone fell into a toilet, sink, hot tub, swimming pool, lake, etc.
Phone dropped from a lap
Phone knocked off a table
Phone drenched by some liquid

“As smart phones continue to improve, they become more tightly integrated into our busy lives leaving them vulnerable to accidents around the clock,” says the CMO of SquareTrade, via the Sacramento Bee. “We were astonished at how many people drop their phones in the toilet as well as how frequently an innocuous drop from the hand actually killed the device. We look forward to seeing what the new iPhone 5 users report with regard to durability.”

Consumers are spending a ton on repairs, but it would be even more if we weren’t trying to avoid those costs by any means necessary. The reason I see so many terrifying cracked screens is because 11% of iPhone owners are using a cracked device, and 6% have it taped up instead of bringing it in for a fix.

For the sake of your ears/fingers/any other body part that could become embedded with iPhone glass, please be careful and perhaps invest in one of those indestructible cases, even if it’s not as pretty as just the phone itself or as adorable as making it look like you’re carrying a Gameboy/cassette tape/flowery designer thingy.

New Study Shows Damaged iPhones Cost Americans $5.9 Billion [Sacramento Bee]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Greg Ohio says:

    My son dropped my wife’s iPhone onto concrete, shattering the back. I took it to the Apple store, and they fixed it on the spot for $30.

  2. Coffee says:

    I can actually understand the toilet one…when I am using my phone to listen to a podcast, I will frequently put it in the front breast pocket of my shirt. If I happen to be in the bathroom and stand, then turn around to flush, there’s bending over involved, and I always have to be cognizant about where the phone his and how precarious its position.

  3. failfailfail says:

    You ought to put SquareTrade in the title so people know not to bother with this article. Come on, you believe a third party warranty provider when they tell you that 30% of people have damaged their iPhones in the last year?

    • Velifer says:

      I should send them money. Lots of money.
      I don’t even have an iPhone, but just in case, do they take PayPal?

  4. SpeakR40Dead says:

    Phone dropped from my hand (can’t walk around or juggle other items with it)
    Phone fell into a toilet, sink, hot tub, swimming pool, lake, etc. (can’t swim or whatever without it)
    Phone dropped from a lap (can’t sit without it?)
    Phone knocked off a table (can’t eat without it)
    Phone drenched by some liquid (I don’t want to know)

    Sounds like the real problem is that people can’t seem to put their phones away.

    • Coffee says:

      Problem is you’re acting as if a phone is a phone, which isn’t really true these days. A phone is also an MP3 player and a web browser and a newspaper and the radio. So yeah, there are many, many opportunities for it to get dropped or damaged.

      • oatmealpacket says:

        Ahem, you don’t appear to be sticking to the party line of “everything new is a curse!”

        Those durned kids and their phones!

        • Coffee says:

          As long as all these fantastical functions aren’t employed in a movie theatre, I’m not yelling about kids on my lawn.

      • SpeakR40Dead says:

        No, I acknowledge that iphones (along with other smartphones) are much more than a phone. Everyone does not NEED their iphone in hand 24/7. At some point people need to know when to put it away. Just because they have many uses shouldn’t mean that it should become the only way to get through a lull in your day. It’s like a weird futuristic endemic with people trying to get their information/entertainment fix any chance they can get.

        Smartphones and iPhones have their uses, that is for sure. I am just saying that most of these occurrences happen at times that do not necessarily demand a phone/IM/Web Browser/App/etc. at the ready. It can be easily kept in a pocket or bag out of harm’s way until it is needed.

  5. TuxthePenguin says:

    I recently dropped my iPad and shattered the screen (dropped it on its corner onto my granite countertops). I had Applecare, but it wasn’t the new Applecare Plus. So intead of a $49 repair, it was $249. I called Apple to complain (nicely) that I should have been either automatically upgraded since Plus wasn’t available to me at the time or give the chance to buy-up into the new plan (I honestly cannot realize how they missed this opportunity!). Instead, they are repairing it for free.

    I was thinking of a Windows Phone 8. But I’ll see how the new iOS is before making that decision… but I’m already leaning to the new iPhone when my upgrade is ready in November.

    • quieterhue says:

      I have the Nokia Lumia 900, and I love it. The new Lumia 920, which is coming out soon, looks amazing. Strongly recommend the Windows Phone, and specifically the Nokia phones.

      And FYI I have dropped my phone multiple times and it has not broken. ;-)

      • luxosaucer13 says:

        I second that sentiment about Windows Phone. I’ve used Android, iPhone and Windows Phone 7. By far, my favourite is the WP7; it’s like the best of both worlds. It’s not glitchy like Android can be and it has a removable, replaceable battery that iPhones don’t have. It’s also very easy to use, update and sync content with a computer.

  6. crashfrog says:

    Those cases don’t do anything. Unless the case is an inch of Nerf, a rigid case is going to transmit 100% of the impact right to the phone inside of it.

    My wife dropped her cased iPhone 4 and scrambled the whole screen. I’ve dropped my naked iPhone at least twice – onto a concrete sidewalk – and done nothing but chipped a tiny sliver out of one of the corners.

    • NotEd says:

      I’ve dropped my HTC Andriod Poo-phone on concrete sidewalks twice and on black streets at least three times.

      My phone looks immaculate because a bought a case for it before I would leave the house carrying it. My Otterbox case looks like it’s been through World War 3, but the phone inside keeps on ticking.

      Too bad I don’t like the phone too much, but that more due to the unfortunate nature of it’s underpowered design and the AT&T network. What can I say, it was a gift and I’ll use it until it’s dead.

    • Desiredfx says:

      Mine was ran over all morning at an intersection ( dont ask) it was in an otter box everything works fine but the camera and the camera’s led flash. called to see about a fix didnt tell them it was ran over of course but it was 199.99 i paid 200 for it. So I will upgrade are get the same phone for less than the repair when the 5 hits the shelves. So all in all im glad i got the phone back but sucks cant use the camera and the otter box. is in bad shape but it saved my phone.. well most of it anyway.

    • VintageLydia says:

      Otterboxes and the Griffin Survivor cases work very very well. They just aren’t too pretty and if you’re a lady like me who hates carrying a purse, it makes it difficult to slip in your pocket, too (My husband has no issues because apparently men need ample pockets and women don’t according to clothing manufacturers.) So I use Speck cases. The Candyshell case gives the best protection but I use the fabric covered one right now because it grips better.

      I’ve thought way too much about this.

  7. Quirk Sugarplum says:

    It’s all part of the unique Apple user experience. A shamefully damaged iPhone isn’t simply “fixed”. Jet engines, computers, your aunt Mavis’ cat – these things get fixed. An iPhone is “ReBorn”.

  8. AzCatz07 says:

    Why has MaryBeth decided all of America loves these iDevices? I’m not hating, mind you. I just have noticed a trend in her Apple headlines.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      It’s the advent of the next version of an iDevice. Expect more of these type of news as the date draws near.

      I’m more surprised you noticed it just now. :)

  9. STXJK says:

    I’ve always wondered if making these phones so fragile is part of a marketing scheme…an opportunity to upsell cases, warranty plans, and even repairs. I mean, that has to be it, right?

    • Greg Ohio says:

      Maybe its just hard to make unbreakable glass.

      • STXJK says:

        It isn’t that hard. A lot can be done. I’m also not sure they even need to be glass to start with, but who knows. And then to make the newer generations where now the back is glass too? And can charge $30 to replace it?

    • Chmeeee says:

      Given how many they replace for free as goodwill, I don’t think they’re making big money off the repairs. Also, as glass goes, the iPhone glass is pretty damn strong. I’ve dropped mine onto a concrete sidewalk from belt height with no damage in the past (also cracked one once). I can’t think of much of anything else glass that I could do that with without smashing it.

      • STXJK says:

        It’s dropping it on the corner that seems to be the killer. My daughter has broken hers twice now (the back) – $30 each time, within 6 months, at the Apple store. I would say about 50% of my friends have broken either the front or back of their phones at one time or another.

  10. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    Is this high or low compared to a similar sample of other smartphone owners? The numbers don’t tell much in a vacuum. (Hey, don’t vacuum up your iPhone!)

    There may also be somewhat of a bias issue with the study, since the company that did the study is trying to get people to buy protection plans.

  11. momoftwokids says:

    That photo looks like the one I saw of someone who dropped their iPhone….while skydiving. Thing still worked, even though it was a deathtrap of glass shards.

  12. Gehasst says:

    Odd. I’ve dropped my original Droid and my now Samsung Droid Charge (currently at the 1.5 year mark of owning it) dozens of times. I have no case on it, only a screen protector to protect against scratches. Darn thing has battle scars, but screen is perfect and it works like a Champ!

    Just about everyone I know with an iPhone has broken the screen by a single drop. Maybe Apple needs to look at the hardware that is going into the Android phones and copy it?

    Oh, and I’m 6 foot, 6 inches tall, so when I drop it when I’m talking, there is a good amount of free fall involved.

    • daemonaquila says:

      I don’t know where those folks play with their iPhones, but this absolutely doesn’t jibe with my experience. I’m brutal to mine (as are some friends), and I don’t get a single scratch. I finally managed to put a tiny ding on the metal frame, on fall-to-concrete probably number 20 or 30. I’m sure I could break the screen if I tried, but if I haven’t done it by accident through all the abuse I’ve given my phone, I don’t think it’s oing to happen.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        It jibes with mine. I promise you, you’ve just been lucky. Those things are fragile as crap, you breathe on them too hard & boom- hairline crack. I’m actually a computer/phone tech & 9 out of 10 of all the screen replacements I’ve ever done were on iphones & ipod touches. Supposedly Apple uses Gorilla Glass, but they must be using a different version of it because their screens are SO fragile its not even funny.

  13. NotEd says:

    I used to work with a guy who had a iPhone 4 and I swear he busted the glass of that phone 3 or 4 times before he finally did it in. Each time he’s get the glass replaced and use it for a little while, then one day it would be shattered again.
    It still worked each time, so I guess that says something to toughness of the phone behind the glass.
    Well until the last time, when he must’ve finally done it in, as he showed up at work with a Blackberry instead.

  14. Obtruder says:

    Perhaps if Apple didn’t build their phones out of the most fragile materials they could find, it wouldn’t be such a problem.

    Our work iPhones get destroyed all the time from a single drop, shattering both the back and front.

  15. quieterhue says:

    I know many people who’ve walked around with shattered iPhone screens. This is not a rare problem. Clearly the smart thing to do is get Apple Care, so you don’t have to pay full price for a new phone if it gets damanged. However, there is clearly a fundamental problem with the design of the iPhone that makes it extremely susceptible to this type of damage. I own a Nokia Lumia 900 and have dropped it on multiple occasions and it hasn’t sustained any damange. Accidents happen and phones should be designed to sustain a reasonable amount of wear and tear.

  16. daemonaquila says:

    iFIxit – a little elbow grease, a $20 part, and you’re golden. A few weeks ago, I had a really annoying but relatively minor break for which the Apple Store would’ve happily charged me $199 to replace my phone. Yes, the fix took several hours, the instructions were dead on, and the part cost $24 – I’ll call that a big win. I got my biggest laughs at the expense of the horrified Apple Store guys who tried to scare me into ponying up $200 because it’s a better deal than voiding a warranty that will expire in 3 months anyway.