What are my options for replacing my broken phone?
March 20, 2013 9:58 AM   Subscribe

I'm on Verizon, I have no warranty, started a contract in July w/ a Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4G Android Phone. I was a n00b and walked into my car really hard the other night and it was in my pocket. The screen now will barely turn on, the touch screen is cracked. The touchscreen is unusable. I cannot dial or even use the phone. A google nexus will be $299. What are my options? The phone itself, I kind of hate, the OS is nice but charging has always been an issue and it dies pretty quickly. I need ideas on either should I replace it? (With what and how much?) I don't want to renew as Verizon has had terrible quaility and I want to dump them in 18 months and go back to Virgin Mobile (I even have a phone for it). Should I foot the $350 ETF and switch back to Virgin? Cost to fix it? Other options?
posted by snow_mac to Technology (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I found myself in a similar situation, actually I dropped that same phone in the ocean. I also hated the aspects you dislike, especially the battery life. I picked up a refurbished Galaxy SIII on eBay for around $400. It's a far, far better phone, especially with regards to battery life and I love the TouchWiz interface. Everything I liked about the Galaxy Nexus, nothing I really dislike too mch. No problem to continue with Verizon (no fees, nada); I didn't sign a new contract or anything. Something to consider in the event you stick out your existing 18 mos on that contract. Good luck.
posted by xiaolongbao at 10:03 AM on March 20, 2013

At this point I would probably pay the ETF (it drops by $10 for every month you have the contract, so it should be around $270 at this point, not the full $350) and go prepaid. Especially if you like the phone that you have that you would use on Virgin Mobile. It sounds like you don't like anything about Verizon, so cut your losses and move on.
posted by payoto at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

If the problem is the touch screen and digitizer, it looks like you can buy a replacement for around $150. I'm not sure how much it would be to repair, but that's certainly an option (around here there are booths in the mall which claim they can do it). An extended life battery for that phone is ~$25, and would probably help with battery life issues at the cost of making it more bulky.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:09 AM on March 20, 2013

Oh, and I don't know about this particular phone, but I am stuuunned to see how much broken-screen iPhones and Galaxy Notes and other in-demand smartphones go for on eBay, so you may even be able to recoup a lot of the ETF by selling the phone.
posted by payoto at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2013

@Comrade_robot do you have a source for that?

@payoto I didn't know about the dropping. Which puts it less then the cost of a new phone. I like the speed of 4g but pretty much hate everything else. I get a lot of dropped calls, more then on virgin.
posted by snow_mac at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2013

Having a local phone repair place swap the parts will be ~$200. It's a pretty straightforward repair.

Parts to do it yourself are probably ~$120. Do NOT just buy the glass. It is attached to the touchscreen assembly in a way that mortal humans cannot deal with. The fact that they sell separate glass is a scam!

The above are referenced from my wife who broke an HTC Evo 4G LTE. But I bet it is the same ballpark. I seriously just googled cellphone repair st louis and called until a place had the part in stock.

Obviously if you're weighing $200 against $270 ETF to move to where you want to go, maybe it is worth it. I'd imagine $200 in your pocket plus the eBay price of a cracked screen phone will be awful close to covering your ETF.
posted by cmm at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2013

replacement assembly $115 on ebay.

ifixit teardown...
posted by ennui.bz at 11:39 AM on March 20, 2013

Should I foot the $350 ETF and switch back to Virgin?

You're thinking of paying $350 to escape one plan just so you can go get trapped again in another plan?

I'd consider spending the $350 on a nexus direct from Google and the wireless charger, use that to wait out the end of your current plan, and then you have a nice phone that is also completely unlocked and month-to-month-ready. No more contracts. (Assuming the nexus works nicely on verizon's network. I wouldn't know, but I assume it does)
posted by anonymisc at 11:40 AM on March 20, 2013

I've never used them, but if you hate Verizon so much, maybe you could check out a site like cellswapper to see if someone will take your contract off your hands? Then you could head back to Virgin right away, taking no (or a smaller) financial hit.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2013

I have a Verizon DNA Droid and I do not recommend it. The problem is that if it loses coverage it never gets it back unless you restart the phone. Since I'm in an area with spotty coverage, that happens to me several times a week, and I have gotten in the habit of checking the phone every hour or two to see if that's necessary.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:15 PM on March 20, 2013

You're thinking of paying $350 to escape one plan just so you can go get trapped again in another plan?

Virgin Mobile is prepaid. No contracts.
posted by payoto at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2013

I replaced the screen+digitizer on one of these a few weeks ago. I'd never done anything like that, and it wasn't too bad. Just had to go slow.
posted by inigo2 at 12:25 PM on March 20, 2013

I bought a very clean used one of these recently for $180 on Ebay so spending $200 to get it fixed doesn't make much sense.
posted by octothorpe at 12:56 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you do look into getting a new phone, you may want to check into Ting. You get a phone and then the pricing structure works to where you pay for only the minutes you use.

They use Sprint towers. Here is the devices page: https://ting.com/devices

Main site is https://ting.com/
posted by gregjunior at 1:33 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I got my iPhone screen/digitizer replaced at a local shop for $75, perfect job and definitely worth it over paying the insurance deductible (which in retrospect I shouldn't have bothered with). If you go that route just check out reviews online and get a few quotes.

However, if you already hate the phone you can purchase one off craigslist or ebay much cheaper than new and often in fine condition - ebay probably being safer in terms of seller feedback - make sure to check the ESN by calling in to Verizon; you always stand the risk of the phone being reported stolen later, but the more reliable the seller the more I would trust it.
posted by celtalitha at 3:21 PM on March 20, 2013

FYI, the Nexuses you can buy contract-free direct from Google are GSM-only, meaning they will work primarily only on AT&T and T-Mobile, and not on Verizon.
posted by dcjd at 11:57 PM on March 20, 2013

Where can I get a verizon nexus?
posted by snow_mac at 1:44 PM on March 21, 2013

According to the Wikipedia page, the Nexus 4 only supports GSM. If so, there is no version compatible with Verizon's network (which is 4G-LTE or CDMA2000).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:10 PM on March 21, 2013

I thought I should update this, for the historical record. I had a problem with my Droid DNA where, if it ever lost the network, it would not reconnect spontaneously. The only way to reconnect consistently was to reboot the phone.

Three days ago Verizon rolled out a firmware update, and that was one of the things they fixed. My DNA now does spontaneously reconnect, the way it ought to, and as such I withdraw my objections. In every other regard the DNA is a fine phone, and it no longer has that drawback. I do recommend it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:42 AM on April 17, 2013

And now I want to update again: it turned out that the SIM was faulty. Eventually it died outright. Verizon replaced it two weeks ago, and it's been connected 24/7 ever since.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:54 AM on June 15, 2013

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