Technology

What to Do With a Damaged Smart Phone

You can make some fixes on your own, or sell it for cash.

How can you break your smart phone? Let me count the ways. It could fall out of your pocket as you lean over to pick up something. You could accidentally run over it with your car. Your dog could use it as a chew toy. Or it could slip from your wet hands as you play Candy Crush while taking a bath and sink to the bottom of the tub -- which actually happened to one of the respondents in a recent survey by electronics trade-in site Gazelle about how consumers break their phones.

Unfortunately, the limited warranties that come with Apple and Samsung phones don’t cover this sort of damage. But you don’t have to write off your broken phone as a total loss.

You may be able to fix your phone and avoid shelling out big bucks for a new one. Note: Before attempting any repairs, contact the manufacturer to confirm that the damage isn’t covered so you don’t void your warranty by tampering with your phone. Or you could sell it at an electronics trade-in site for cash to help offset the cost of a new phone.

Repair a broken screen. Clear packing tape is a quick, inexpensive fix to hold your screen together until you can get a replacement screen, says Gazelle senior tech analyst Alyssa Voorhis. Just don’t handle the phone with your bare hands if there are loose shards of glass. You can find replacement screens on Amazon.com for $50 or more and fix it yourself. My husband used a YouTube video to walk him through the replacement of his Samsung Galaxy phone screen, which he says wasn’t easy but certainly doable.

Dry out a water-damaged phone. If you drop your phone in water, pull it out as quickly as possible and turn it off so it doesn’t short circuit, Voorhis says. Take the battery out of Android and Blackberry phones; do a hard shutdown on iPhones. Remove the memory card and shake the water out of your device. Then place it in instant rice, crystallized cat litter or silica gel in a sealed container for 48 hours, Voorhis says. After you charge it, the phone should work again.

Get cash for your broken phone. If your service provider won’t give you credit for a broken phone toward the purchase of a new phone, you can sell it at an electronics trade-in site. You won’t get as much from these sites for a damaged phone as you would for one in working condition, but you might be surprised how much you actually can get.

For example, Gazelle will pay $125 for a broken iPhone 5S (as long as it’s still recognizable as a phone), versus up to $370 for one in good condition. It will pay $50 for a broken Galaxy S4, versus up to $193 for one in good condition. The highest price listed recently on USell, which shows the best offers from a network of buyers, for a broken iPhone 5S was $152 and $60.80 for a Galaxy S4. BuyMyTronics and NextWorth also buy broken smart phones.

Because the amount you can get for your broken phone varies from site to site, it pays to check several to find the best offer. All of the sites listed above provide free shipping and pay by check or through PayPal. Gazelle also offers the option to receive an Amazon gift card. NextWorth gives you the option to take items to one its partner stores, such as Target, and get store credit or a gift card. And BuyMyTronics will let you donate the amount you’re offered for your device to a charity of your choice.

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