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Dropping or damaging your cell phone is one of those tragic things you just can't seem to avoid sometimes. And it always seems to happen at the worst times possible: when you're between pay checks, when you can't make it to the carrier store for a couple days to file a claim or when you really need to use the phone.

The worst part is that replacing a phone isn't cheap. Not everyone realizes this at first; some seem to think that since they paid $50 or $100 for their smartphone with an agreement, that the phone might only cost that (or a little more) to replace it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. If you don't have insurance, you can expect to pay the full retail price to replace a smartphone through a carrier, which usually cost upwards of $500. Even low-end or last year's models can set you back $350 and above. And you can also chance sites like eBay or Craigslist to find a better deal – just hope you don't get a dud or get mugged in a deal gone wrong.

In short, replacing a phone isn't cheap. That's why we strongly recommend insurance and protective cases for those of you who have butter fingers. If you chanced it and decided to carry your phone naked and without insurance, though, and your pocket-sized computer somehow slipped through your fingers and met face to face with some asphalt, there may be another option.

Self-service or paid repairs.

Earlier today, our fearless leader, Aaron Baker, made an appearance on 3TV out of Phoenix speaking on cell phone part sales and chop-shops. (Yes, those really do exist for cell phones, unfortunately.) What generally happens is a phone is stolen or lost and someone other than the owner of the phone sells it for some quick cash, either on Craigslist or to a used phone dealer. From there, if the phone has been blacklisted, it can be taken apart and "parted out" much like a stolen car going through a chop-shop.

Apparently, the market for this kind of thing is on the rise and cell phone part and repair shops are popping up left and right.

The good news is, not all cell phone repair shops are chop-shops, and not all replacement parts for phones have been removed from a stolen phone. In fact, replacement cell phone parts have been prevalent since my BlackBerry days. There were a few select sites I would visit regularly, looking for aftermarket parts for my BlackBerry Curve, Tour and Bold. You could buy different colored, aftermarket housings, displays, digitizers, trackballs, trackpads, etc. This carried over to Android handsets and the iPhone as they became popular, though parts for some devices aren't nearly as easy to track down.

What I'm interested to know, though, is whether any of you have ever considered repairing a phone that is broken instead of having it replaced.

I've considered it a zillion times. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to my phones, and I tend to freak out if and when my phone gets scratched, bumped or bruised. I remember dropping the HTC myTouch 4G on some asphalt on my way out the door just weeks after I bought it no-contract (ouch!). The metal trim and plastic casing were gouged pretty bad. Instead of picking it up and proceeding to the car, I went back inside and revisited some of those old sites I used to order BlackBerry parts from, only to find they had no parts for the myTouch 4G. I also had a tiny (barely noticeable) hairline scratch on the back of my Verizon iPhone and strongly considered just replacing the whole back panel. I never followed through, but I seriously debated it for some time.

To be fair, I usually have a spare device laying around that I can activate in the event I break or drop my current phone. But that doesn't change the fact that, on multiple occasions, I have considered just repairing the phone I have. It's a legitimate way to be back up and running without completely breaking the bank. And as more people adopt smartphones, more aftermarket manufacturers create replacement parts and more people break their phones, cell phone repairs are only going to become more viable.

So tell me, readers. Have any of you ever had your phone repaired instead of replacing it? What did you have fixed and how much did it cost? How did it work out for you?

Image via @Grg


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