Getting a repair on a phone while I still need access to a phone?
April 1, 2021 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I've recently discovered that my Pixel 3 has developed a bulging battery and I'll need to either fix or replace it. Previously when this sort of thing has occurred I've sprung for a replacement flagship-class smartphone, but there really aren't any phones that are speaking to me right now that I want to spend that outlay in cash so I'm thinking of getting the phone repaired instead.

That said, for work and other reasons I still need access to a smartphone while the repair is being done, so I'm thinking of getting a cheapish Android smartphone and swapping the SIM to tide things over in the meantime. I'm on Verizon at the moment.

My questions:
  1. Is repairing the Pixel 3 a good idea? The Pixel 3 is coming up on 3 years since I bought it in October 2018, and I'd hoped to use it for as long as it gets updates.
  2. What budget Verizon-compatible smartphone would you recommend, if so? Wirecutter's Nokia recommendation is out-of-date and doesn't work on Verizon, so please don't tell me about it.
  3. If I should go for a replacement, any suggestions from the Android side? I need a fingerprint reader and strongly prefer an OLED display, and I'd prefer something with no screen notch or a very minimal one. SD card expansion would be nice to have.
posted by Aleyn to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Best answer: The Pixel 3 gets security updates until October 2021, so on #1 you're on pretty limited time already. (I believe the general rule for Pixels is 3 years of support from release)

Less sure about the other questions, I'm hoping to hold out long enough to see what the Pixel 6? might look like myself.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:49 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have a Pixel 3 that still works well. Sounds like you just need a battery replacement. You could probably get one of those fixit places to change the battery in 15 minutes.

Not sure about Verizon compat budget phones. Replacement, I would look at the OnePlus 8 series or wait a few weeks for the OnePlus 9. The Pixel 4a with 5G gets good reviews at a good price. I have seen it on sale for around $400.
posted by AugustWest at 1:53 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, the repair shop in my neighborhood swapped my battery in about five minutes, so you shouldn't be out a phone for that long.
posted by advicepig at 2:16 PM on April 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm in a similar boat but for a cracked screen on a Pixel 3. The Pixel 5a is probably coming out this summer and the Pixel 6 in the winter (which will hopefully be a muuuuuuch better phone than the 5). My go-to for burner phones is the Motorola line, so my interim will probably be the 2020 version of the Maxx, which I can get cheap and flip when I get a "good" phone again.

Is repairing the Pixel 3 a good idea? The Pixel 3 is coming up on 3 years since I bought it in October 2018, and I'd hoped to use it for as long as it gets updates.

It depends on the cost. As CrystalDave noted, the 3 is almost to its end of life for security updates and I won't use a phone for anything important that doesn't get them. If you're like-minded, divide the repair cost by 6 or 7 and ask yourself if you'd pay that much per month to rent a Pixel 3.
posted by Candleman at 2:53 PM on April 1, 2021

Best answer: When I was facing something similar, my friends said "Go on Groupon, find the repair deals from repair shops around you, check Yelp for their feedback, and pick the best one." I did, and the repair happened while I waited (outside).
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:58 PM on April 1, 2021

Best answer: I would pay for a low-end smartphone as a placeholder device, maybe a Moto E or G series, that are surprisingly usable, and should be obtainable for $100 or so. After you get your pixel back, see if you want to return it, or keep it as a backup device.
posted by kschang at 3:05 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Verizon is doing a big promo today that would reduce the price of a new phone with trade in. I knkw you said nothing appeals right now but maybe the trade in math might work for you.
posted by dstopps at 3:17 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What dstopps said re:verizon trade in.

But the crazy thing is the offer is valid for broken phones on trade in as well, and a very limited time. You broke your phone, so Verizon is breaking the rules
posted by TheAdamist at 3:28 PM on April 1, 2021

Response by poster: The fine print of the Verizon trade-in specifies they won't accept phones with battery damage, unfortunately (you need to hover over the little information circle to see it), otherwise I'd be tempted.
posted by Aleyn at 4:00 PM on April 1, 2021

Response by poster: Somehow I got it in my head that battery replacement took weeks as that had been the experience with a previous phone I'd taken in for repair for my SO, but in that case they didn't have the HTC battery in stock, and it sounds like the local repair shop can turn around a Pixel 3 in a few hours, so that's probably what I'll do. My dad is currently hospitalized due to complications with a chronic condition, so my brain's not been working so great and I really don't want to deal with the hassle of migrating my phone right now.
posted by Aleyn at 4:06 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I got the battery of my pixel 2 replaced before Christmas at my local shopping centre - it took about an hour. I suspect you've had an experience of getting a phone repaired under warranty before - I think they are often slower that way.
posted by Cheese Monster at 11:28 PM on April 1, 2021

I liked the Pixel 3 and now have a Pixel 4A 5G. Only downside is no water resistance.
posted by tarvuz at 8:11 AM on April 2, 2021

Between the looming end of support and recent reports of camera issues I'm not sure I'd count on a battery as a long term solution. If you want a short term fix and your camera hasn't failed yet, a local shop should be able to do this while you wait. I'd consider it a six month stopgap, though, and plan to get a new phone soon.
posted by fedward at 8:47 AM on April 2, 2021

Response by poster: Got it fixed today, took about 3 hours, which was definitely a lot better than my last experience. Well-aware that this is a stopgap, I just do not have the spoons to go looking into getting a new phone right now. Camera's fine (and I rarely use it anyway these days), and if I can get it to last the rest of the year, I'll consider that a success.
posted by Aleyn at 5:28 PM on April 2, 2021

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