Is it worth mending an iPhone?

If your mobile provider offers you a “free” upgrade to your mobile phone every 18 months or 2 years you may not be getting good value for money

Mobile phone repairThere was a time when mobile phone development was very rapid and an 18 month old phone was significantly less powerful, and/or less well featured, than a new one. This isn’t really the case any more. Both iPhone and Samsung are advertising their latest offerings (the iPhone X and the Galaxy S9, respectively) in terms of how great the camera is. To my mind, minor improvements such as this don’t justify getting a new phone. And I’m not alone. According to Dixons Carphone, the lack of new features and recent price rises have meant that whereas we used to replace our phones (on average) every 20 months in 2013, it’s now every 29 months (Source: The Guardian).

So, you may not be getting as good value from a mobile phone contract that offers you a new phone every 18-24 months as you used to. The perception that your provider is giving you a “free upgrade” is no more than that – a perception. The phone may not be significantly better than the one you already have and, as for it being free – I think not. More like £30 a month for the “free upgrade” element.

iPhone logoI kept my last phone for 3 years (and it was already secondhand when I bought it – see this blog post on updating an iPhone). I finally replaced it last summer (for another secondhand iPhone from CEX) because the battery was swelling up and forcing off the screen. It used to cost an arm and a leg to replace an iPhone battery (let alone a screen), but I think things must have changed since Apple dropped their battery prices. This happened following an uproar when they had to admit that they deliberately slowed down the operation of “old” iPhones. Their argument was that a battery whose performance was deteriorating could cause a phone to unexpectedly switch off and that they were slowing down the phone to save battery life to stop that from happening. Of course, we cynical members of the public harboured suspicions that they slowed down the phone so that we’d get a new, faster, one. Anyway, to help try and defuse the situation, Apple suddenly dropped the price of replacement batteries from a zillion quid to about £30.

Lovefone logoMy pensioned-off iPhone 5 (with the swollen battery and lifting screen) still has uses for me, so I took it into a place called Lovefone at 37 Tottenham Street, W1T 4RU, a few weeks ago to see if it was worth fixing. In short, they replaced both the screen and the battery for less than the price that a battery would have been a year or so ago. The phone has been working perfectly ever since.

The total bill for the repair was the equivalent of about two months worth of “contribution” that you are making to your mobile provider if they “give” you a “free” upgrade every 18 or 24 months. And, yes, it most certainly has occurred to me that I didn’t need to buy a new (secondhand) phone last summer. The repair to my iPhone 5 will pay for itself if the phone lasts just two months longer than it would otherwise have done.

One of the things that has always put me off getting mobile phones repaired previously is that I’ve never quite fancied leaving my phone with one of those tiny little “mobile repair” places you typically see crammed into shop premises shared with someone else. It’s not so much the value of the phone I’m worried about as the privacy of my data. Well, I had no such fears about Lovefone. They have clean, roomy premises where you can see the repairs taking place. The staff I encountered were very friendly and efficient. I left my phone with them (but could have waited) and picked it up 30 minutes later. Give them a try if you’d rather give your current phone a new lease of life than spend a fortune on a new one. And, just for the record, I didn’t tell them that I work in IT or that I would give them a testimonial.