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Mobile myths cost consumers dearly, as Americans report spending $3.4 billion replacing millions of smartphone screens last year

People widely underestimate the cost of repairs and go to creative lengths to live with accidental damage

SAN FRANCISCO, November 20, 2018 – Smartphone owners accidentally broke more than 50 million phone screens last year (that’s nearly two every second), and replacing those screens cost them $3.4 billion. SquareTrade, an Allstate company and a highly rated protection plan provider trusted by millions of customers, today released research that looks at the costs of those phone drops, including the most common types of damage, misconceptions people have about the out-of-pocket costs of repairs, and what they’ll do to avoid big-ticket repairs.

The study found that 66% of smartphone owners damaged their phones in the past year, with cracked screens leading the way as the most common type of damage (29%). Scratched screens (27%) and nonworking batteries (22%) took second and third place respectively, with touchscreen issues and chipped corners/sides tying at 16% each.

While we all think of ourselves as responsible smartphone owners, damage is often the result of simple clumsiness. By far, the most common cause of smartphone damage is dropping a phone on the ground (74%). Others are the phone falling out of a pocket (49%), being dropped in water (39%), being knocked off a table or counter (38%), being dropped in the toilet (26%) or falling out of a bag (22%).

SquareTrade also found:

  • Expectation vs. Reality: With the price of signature devices like the Apple iPhone Xs and Samsung Galaxy S9 soaring, people underestimate what it costs to repair phones. Seventy percent of smartphone owners think cracked screen repairs cost less than $150, but the new iPhone Xs Max actually costs $329 to fix. Likewise, nearly half (46%) of smartphone owners think non-screen smartphone repairs cost $150 or less. In reality, fixing the iPhone Xs Max costs four times that, setting people back $599.
  • Keeping Cracked Screens: Every hour, approximately 5,761 smartphone screens break in America. Thirty-eight percent of smartphone owners with a cracked screen don’t get them fixed; 34% of that group say repairing them was too costly. Eighty-five percent of smartphone owners use a phone case, yet 27% of Americans reported damaging their phone while it was in a case.
  • Dealing with Damage: Since out-of-pocket repairs are steeper than most people expect, it’s no surprise that 65% of smartphone owners have avoided fixing a broken phone because of high costs. Additionally, 67% admit they would not repair a damaged smartphone that still worked, and 59% have chosen to upgrade to a new device rather than repair a broken phone.
  • Protection Misunderstandings: Fifty-one million Americans report paying for protection plans through their wireless carrier. Seventy-two percent are not aware that they can cancel or switch to a different protection plan provider, like SquareTrade, at any time, which could save them $1.5 billion per year.

“Today’s smartphones have all-glass designs that look sleek but aren’t reliable when it comes to everyday drops. It can cost hundreds of dollars to repair even the smallest crack or damage,” said Jason Siciliano, vice president and global creative director at SquareTrade. “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.”

To avoid spending hundreds of dollars on repairs, SquareTrade advises that smartphone owners always use a screen protector and case – and get a protection plan.   

Data Sources:

  1. SquareTrade’s 2018 Smartphone Owners Repair Study conducted in August 2018 using Samplify, a subsidiary of Research Now SSI. Feedback was collected from 1,010 online consumers.
  2. SquareTrade’s Damage Pulse Survey conducted in August 2018 using Google Surveys. Feedback was collected from 1,025 respondents.
  3. SquareTrade’s 2018 Smartphone Owners Study conducted in February 2018 using Qualtrics Panels, an aggregator of leading market research panels. Feedback was collected from 1,032 online consumers.
  4. SquareTrade’s 2017 Smartphone Survey conducted in December 2017 using Qualtrics Panels, an aggregator of leading market research panels. Feedback was collected from 1,200 online consumers.
  5. Pew Research Center’s 2018 Mobile Fact Sheet
  6. U.S. Census QuickFacts 2017 Population Estimates

Press Contact

press(at)squaretrade.com

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