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New repair data shows we won’t fix a cracked screen if the phone still works

Updated Nov 22nd, 2019 4:36AM EST

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It might not come as a surprise, but one effect of the rising price of smartphones — and the increasing commonality of $1,000+ handsets — is that consumers are likewise increasingly putting off repairs, especially if the damage doesn’t seem to impact the phone’s overall performance.

According to new research from SquareTrade, an Allstate company and protection plan provider, Americans broke more than 50 million smartphone screens in the last year. SquareTrade’s data shows that the vast majority of smartphone owners believe such repairs of damaged screens should cost less than $150 (Narrator: They often cost more than that). That’s the reason some 67% of device owners choose to just live with the cracked screen instead of paying to get it fixed. Another 59% say they’d rather just go ahead and upgrade instead of fixing a damaged phone.

Image source: SquareTrade

“Today’s smartphones have all-glass designs that look sleek but aren’t reliable when it comes to everyday drops,” said SquareTrade vice president and global creative director Jason Siciliano. “Our survey showed that most phone owners truly underestimate the amount it will cost to fix their device, with 61% admitting they would wait to repair a cracked screen for a longer period of time because the cost of repairs has gone up.”

Among other highlights of SquareTrade’s new survey of users and phone damage: Americans spent $3.4 billion replacing broken smartphone screens last year. Among the 66% of smartphone owners who reported damaging their handset in some way last year, cracked screens were the most common form of damage reported, at 29%. Scratched screens was the next most common (27%) followed by nonworking batteries, at 22%.

In terms of how the phones actually got damaged? Clumsiness is apparently the main factor:

  • Dropping a phone on the ground – 74%
  • Falling out of a pocket – 49%
  • Dropped in water – 39%
  • Being knocked off a table or counter – 38%
  • Falling into the toilet – 26%
  • Falling out of a bag – 22%

Another eye-popping finding of the survey: Every hour, more than 5,700 smartphone screens get broken in the US. And if you think you’re immune because you use a case — well, the SquareTrade survey found that some 85% of phone owners use a case, and yet almost 30% of Americans reported damaging their phones while it was still in the case.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.