If you’re around my age, you probably remember the famously unbreakable Nokia 3310. The battery would last for a week and you could pretty much drive a car over it without damaging it.
Fast-forward 20 years and we’re all carrying mobile phones that seem to crack if we look at them wrong.
You really couldn’t be blamed for thinking that as phone technology progressed, device durability would also increase. But, unfortunately for the butter-fingered among us, that hasn’t been the case. Over the past decade, Samsung and iPhone screen repair has become a booming business.
Now, It can be tempting to blame the big phone manufacturers like Samsung and Apple for designing “disposable” phones: devices that break easily and are uneconomical to fix. I mean, it wouldn’t be totally out of character for two companies that have been hit with massive fines due to accusations of “planned obsolescence” and intentionally using software upgrades to slow down phones. Anything that speeds up replacement purchases seems pretty much in line with their business models.
But the blame doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of the phone manufacturers. There is a range of technological, practical and economic reasons why smartphones are such delicate devices. And, of course, phone users must take their share of the blame.
The evolution of phone design has created a device that is, unfortunately, extremely prone to damage.
Phone manufacturers design their phones based on market research and demand. And consumer demand has been moving towards phones with big screens and sleek, slim-line cases that still fit in pockets. The result is an extremely large glass screen with very little in the way of a protective case. And the larger the screen, the bigger the surface area that’s exposed to damage.
Additionally, because of the slim-line design, the internal components are tightly packed into the phone’s casing. This makes for a solid unit without much tolerance for stress. When you drop your phone, even if there is no physical impact on the screen, the shock can vibrate through the case causing cracks in the screen.
The ubiquity of smartphones
Everyone owns a smartphone and we’re on them all the time: of course accidents will happen.
Research suggests that 81% of people in the US own a smartphone, up from just 35% in 2011, and that nearly 70% of the global population owns a mobile phone of some kind. With smartphones being so commonplace, you’re more inclined to treat them without much care or consideration. And people seem to quickly forget that what they actually have in their hand is a pretty powerful pocket-size computer. So, maybe it’s asking a bit much for a mini-computer to survive a 3-metre drop.
Add to this how often people are looking at their phones. An average person will look at their phone more than 200 times every day. Since you’re interacting with your phone more than just about anything else on a day to day basis, it stands to reasons that the chances of accidents will be high.
Over the past decade, smartphone owner demographics have shifted with an increasing number of people under the age of 18 owning smartphones. While these children and teenagers are digital natives, having been raised with smart devices, they are still children and prone to distraction and carelessness. The increase in smartphone ownership among young people has also likely contributed to commonplace screen damage.
Change is in the air
While phone screen damage has pretty much been accepted as a part of life, that doesn’t mean that things aren’t changing. The iPhone 11, for example, has been widely praised as the most durable iPhone yet. Better quality glass from Corning, the company that made Gorilla Glass, has created an incredibly tough phone screen that’s actually quite difficult to crack.
Despite these advancements, it’s probably not quite time to say farewell to iPhone screen repair. But it does suggest that phone users are getting sick of how easily phones break, and that phone manufacturers are finally responding.