By Josue Ledesma, Cheapism.com
Slippery fingers, multi-tasking gone awry, impromptu iPhone baths -- whatever the reason, mark these words: Inevitably your iPhone will break. Few and fortunate are the owners who remain unscathed by the fate of the crack of death, a blank screen, or fragments scattered across the crime scene.
What's the cheapest and quickest way to fix an iPhone? Options range from DIY to extended warranties to professional at-home repair.
Related: Best smartphones for a penny or less
(Android users, keep reading. Although the information below is intended for iPhones, many of the suggestions are applicable to other devices.)
AppleCare+. Before considering any cheap guerilla methods, check whether your iPhone is still covered by the standard, one-year AppleCare warranty, which includes 90 days of phone support and one year of hardware repairs. Accidental damage is not covered.
Did you buy AppleCare+? Costing $99 (only available within 30 days of purchase), it extends the duration of your warranty to two years from purchase date. AppleCare+ covers all standard warranty features and repairs for two incidents of accidental damage -- with a $79 fee attached to each. The only accidental damage not covered is due to, or after, opening the device yourself (to you DIY-ers, MacGyver at your own risk).
A review of AppleCare+ at Macworld details various pros and cons, ultimately concluding that an iPhone-specific AppleCare+ warranty is worth the price. It's a relatively hassle-free process that passes for cheap, in that it usually pays for itself with the first repair (especially if the iPhone must be replaced). And by the way, Apple stores provide in-house repairs, which cuts wait time from days to minutes.
iFixit. iFixit offers cheap help for broken iPhones and Androids (as well as other electronic devices). The site's specialty is user-submitted "DIY Repair Guides" that offer step-by-step repair procedures, supported by photos and a list of needed tools.
iFixit also sells tool kits and spare parts. Tool kits range from $19.95 (for a sewing kit!) to $79.95 (includes any and all tools an industry pro could possibly need to make electronic repairs). Spare parts may seem relatively inexpensive (and come with a six-month warranty), but a quick price comparison shows that parts can be purchased from sites such as eBay and Amazon for much less. (Tip: Look elsewhere for cheaper replacement parts and then invest in a device-specific tool kit or a general one if you plan to rely on DIY repair often.)
iFixit's detailed guides, Q&A sections, and forums provide user-friendly resources for cheap iPhone repairs. The large user base is evidence enough that DIY fixes, especially for small problems, can be completed quickly and efficiently.
Related: Best cheap tablets under $200
iCracked. iCracked bridges the gap between personalized tech repair and DIY repair. In addition to offering an extensive list of iPhone repair tutorials posted on You Tube, iCracked's DIY department sells all-inclusive tool kits that include guides, parts, and tools for fixing specific iPhone problems. For example, the cracked screen DIY tool kit includes a replacement screen, the necessary tools, and detailed instructions. It sells for $99.89, which, all things considered, is a cheap price for an iPhone repair. (The same type of replacement kit goes for $159.95 on iFixit.)
DIY aside, iCracked's primary service is personal, at-home tech repair. Billing itself as the "AAA for iPhones, iPods, and iPads", iCracked runs iTech, a service that sends a certified repair technician to you who repairs your device right then and there. Just answer a few questions about your device, problem, and location on iCracked's website, and all iTechs within a 50-mile radius are notified. Interested iTechs contact you with pricing (they set their own) and other details. If there are no iTechs in the vicinity, just use the company's mail-in service for iPhone repair.
For more ways to save, follow Cheapism on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
To stay on top of the latest posts, read the Cheapism Blog.