How I learned the iPhone 5s screen is not indestructible

9 Jul

You know those people who always have a cracked phone screen, or seem to post a “Lost my phone, send me your number!!” status every other week? I used to pride myself on not being one of them. Before I came to the UK I had the same phone for three years — never lost it, never dropped it in the toilet or let it go through the washing machine. I had an iPod Touch for five years — it’s still good as new. And then I got an iPhone. It would occasionally slip out of my hand or fall off a table, but it remained intact. It even got major air during my two recent running wipeouts, but remained unscathed. I started to think it was invincible — combined with my “shockproof” panda case it was unbreakable.

And then I dropped it on the concrete staircase as I was leaving for a run on Sunday. It was only on said run that I noticed a small crack at the top of the screen. It was barely noticeable and didn’t affect the performance, so after googling the astronomical cost of replacing an iPhone 5s screen, I decided to put off the repair. It still worked fine!

And then I put it too close to the edge of the table yesterday and it slid off. This has happened more times than I like to admit, but shockproof panda always saved it. Not this time. The screen, already weakened by the concrete plunge, completely gave up and shattered.

oh no pulverized

“Oh no… pulverized.”

iphone 5s shattered screen
Like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story,” at first I was dazed and stupidly hopeful.

christmas story shot

I thought maybe it would be OK, but then I tried to swipe my home screen and almost got a glass splinter.

I made an appointment with the Apple Store Genius Bar and as a backup plan routed directions to iPhone Surgery, an independent repair shop that got good reviews.

You know those people who can’t live without their phones? I also used to pride myself on not being one of them. But then I was without my phone all of yesterday afternoon and evening. I still had my laptop and iPad, so I figured I’d be OK. But then Stephen came home and joked about the obnoxiously large box one of his membership cards came in. “Take a picture of it and send it to your mom,” he said. And then I realized I couldn’t — I didn’t have a functioning phone. And then I walked to the kitchen, swinging my arm, and realized my FitBit wasn’t syncing with my phone. I didn’t even know if I should eat one mini ice cream cone after dinner or two, because I could not register my calories with MyFitnessPal and have it sync with my FitBit. Yes, apparently I’ve become one of those people I hate.

So this morning I headed to the Apple Store, hoping and praying that somehow a shattered screen would be covered under the one-year warranty. Nope. The guy said they wouldn’t even fix it — they’d just take my phone and sell me a new one for the low price of £209. Ouch. I told him I’d think about it, when really I was thinking about the fastest way to walk to iPhone Surgery without the GPS on my phone. iPhone Surgery’s website said they’d fix it for £79.99, which after £209 seemed like a steal.

I made it to Kingsway, but I forgot to write down the address and couldn’t look it up. I knew it was by the Tube station, so when I saw signs saying “phone repair,” I figured that was it. I walked in and asked the guy if he could fix a 5s screen, since Apple said they couldn’t. He was very helpful, but said they were out of white screens and they couldn’t fit a black one. My heart sunk — was I going to have to go on my run tomorrow without my phone? He took my phone number and said he’d call if they got more in later today. As an afterthought I asked him how much it would cost.

“£105,” he said.

“Oh… your website says £79.99,” I replied.

“No, it’s £105.”

£80 was already way more money than I’d like to spend for being clumsy, so I was definitely not going to pay £105. I got my phone out, turned it on, and gently typed in the iPhone Surgery website, and showed it to him triumphantly.

“See! Your website says £79.99 for a 5s screen!”

“That’s not us,” he said.

I paused.

“This isn’t iPhone Surgery?”

“No. This is Timpson. We’re at 82 Kingsway, you’re looking for 88 Kingsway. I think it’s right next to the Tube, but I’ve never seen a sign. Good luck.”

So there was still hope of getting my phone fixed!

I walked over to 88 Kingsway, which was an office building complete with a lobby with tea and a receptionist. It’s no wonder Timpson was out of white screens — they were banking off people who couldn’t find iPhone Surgery because they couldn’t use Google Maps on their phone and would never have guessed it was in an office building.

I told the receptionist I was there for phone repair and he called someone upstairs. A guy met me in the lobby, looked at my phone, then took it away and told me to come back in an hour. I went shopping, returned to the lobby, and the guy came back down with my phone looking brand new. I tested it out then handed over £80, and that was that.

I’m happy to have a fully functioning phone again (even though I had a fully functioning one a week ago and was £80 richer then), but now my phone’s indestructible image has been shattered (literally). I’m wondering if I should buy a different case or cover, or just treat it very gently and buy time until the iPhone 6 and it’s reportedly indestructible sapphire screen comes out.


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