We had only owned our new iPad 2 for about two months when the inevitable happened. While dropping my husband off at the airport, the device slipped from my hands and fell Gorilla Glass-down on the pavement. Of course we had been using it without a cover, and of course the screen was smashed. I checked to make sure that it was still functioning, and then powered it off, hoping that we might be able to salvage it.
After a little research on the internet, I discovered that our blunder is a remarkably common one. Relatively low-cost and mobile technology come with a host of repair and maintenance problems. According to a report from N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, repairs of some of these gadgets can cost 50% to 100% of the purchase price. Remember, though, that this report is focusing on the cost of in-house repair by the manufacturer. There are, in fact, several other options available to the careless or luckless owner of a broken tablet:
1. Manufacturer repair. This will by far be the most expensive option, but you know that the repair will be done correctly. When I contacted our closest Apple store — which is at least an hour drive away from us — I was told that the base rate for any repair is $599, although some easier repairs may be less expensive. When I politely thanked the Apple Genius, she reminded me that I could not count on anyone other than Apple to correctly repair the iPad.
It is important to note, however, that many manufacturers want to avoid having a negative reputation for making their customers purchase new gadgets after “life happens” type damage. In particular, Amazon has been quite generous in replacing Kindles at no charge to the customer when the e-reader has suffered damage that is not necessarily covered under warranty. You must have the damaged Kindle to return to Amazon in order to take advantage of this — in case of loss or theft you are on the hook for buying a new one.
No matter what your plans for repairing your tablet, it is worth your while to contact the manufacturer or dealer and explain the situation. You may get the benefit of an unofficial replacement policy, and you will at least learn what the worst-case financial scenario will be.
2. Third-party repair. Do a Google search for tablet repair, and you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of repair services available for your particular gadget. These third-party service providers offer repairs at much lower rates than the manufacturer — in order to repair the glass for our iPad 2, most of the service providers I looked up would charge in the range of $150-$200.
As the Apple employee pointed out to me, however, it is possible that using a non-Apple repair service could cause other problems. In order to make certain that you are using a service that will help rather than hurt your broken tablet, stop by some message boards devoted to your gadget to check out what other users have to say about each repair company. This is not a fool-proof way to know your tablet will come home whole and as good as new, but it’s a good way to have an idea of which companies are legitimate and which are not.
3. DIY repair. As with any project, you can save money on your tablet repair if you are willing to do the work yourself. My husband and I found that the parts necessary to pry off and then replace the cracked screen cost us about $80 total from Amazon. There are many YouTube videos that detail how to go about fixing broken tablets, and the website www.ifixit.com is an excellent resource for DIY gadget and machine repair. Provided you know for certain what is wrong with your broken tablet — and websites like ifixit and other boards can help you to correctly diagnose your problem — fixing your gadget yourself is a cost-effective way to get back to playing Angry Birds.
One caveat, however: you need to be careful and precise while following the DIY instructions. After my husband had painstakingly removed all of the shattered glass from our iPad 2, he placed the new glass incorrectly on the tablet and ended up breaking one corner of it, as well, rendering our repair useless. Luckily, another glass front only cost us $45, so we’re still ahead in the repair process. And, more importantly, my husband can no longer make fun of me for originally breaking the iPad, which is information that could come in handy one of these days.