Gizmos

What to Do if You Break Your iPhone During a Pandemic

A man sits at an Apple Genius Bar.
How do you get your iPhone fixed while Apple stores are closed?
Jeff Pachoud/AFP via Getty Images

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On the third day that his family was sheltering under stay-at-home orders, one of Jesus Gomez’s kids fell on top of his iPad and cracked the screen. The timing was particularly inconvenient, not only because Apple Stores and their Genius Bars around the world have shut down in an effort to stymie the spread of the coronavirus, but also because his kids would soon have to rely on the iPad to attend virtual classes. Gomez, who lives in Torrance, California, said it’s been a hassle to find a way for his kids to virtually interact with their teachers now, especially since there’s only one phone in the house, which he needs for his own work.

Gomez was initially hesitant to pay for a repair because he hasn’t been getting as much work lately as a waiter (his restaurant isn’t seating customers but is operating with reduced hours), but in the end decided it was a necessity for his kids and contacted Apple. A company representative told him he could mail the device in, with a five-day repair turnaround. “I [usually] wouldn’t consider [this] essential but right now with virtual learning I think I have to get it fixed ASAP,” he said. The repair will cost $280.

Though stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders may make IT troubleshooting seem impossible, consumer tech companies have come up with a number of ways to get your devices fixed while minimizing your possible exposure to the coronavirus. Apple, for instance, has kept its online support portal running despite closing its stores. If the malfunction is purely software-related, a representative may be able to diagnose the problem and configure a fix remotely. You can also mail in your device to a repair center to address hardware issues or reference Apple’s database of authorized third-party service providers, some of which may still be open based on your location. (It’s a good idea to call ahead, though, to make sure they’re actually open before you make the trip.)

Android users can contact wireless carriers for software fixes. If you have a Samsung device with a hardware issue, Best Buy or uBreakiFix may be your best bet. Some uBreakiFix locations are also offering curbside service and can send a repair person to your house if you want to avoid setting foot in a store. Staples is also still open and offering one-hour, in-store battery and screen fixes for iPhones and Samsung Galaxies.

If you’re handy, you might want to take a crack at tinkering with your device yourself. Though hardware manufacturers have generally sought to restrict their customers’ ability to implement fixes independently, the right-to-repair movement has pushed Apple, Motorola, and certain other companies to make it easier to get replacement parts and instructional guides. The company iFixit is still shipping DIY kits for myriad Android and Apple fixes, such as battery replacements, screen repairs, and memory upgrades. In some cases, though, putting your device under a screwdriver can void the warranty, so it’s best to read it over first.

Some people, according to the Wall Street Journal, are simply opting to buy new devices after their old ones die since laptops and phones are so essential to working from home for many professions. The spike in demand for laptops comes at a time when the virus is disrupting supply chains, which is leaving shelves at some retailers empty. But for people who are struggling to find work, like Gomez, repair is a relatively more cost-effective option. At-home learning is challenging even enough without a cracked screen.