In early September my iPhone 5 fell off the roof of my Jetta wagon. The Jetta was traveling at highway speeds when it happened. I’d placed and forgotten the iPhone on the roof of the Jetta before driving off — something I’d done repeatedly with inexplicable witlessness in the past, though I somehow managed not to lose the phone on those earlier jaunts.
Not so this time. I imagine the phone hurtling off the top as I rounded the bend (that I eventually found it lying beside) like a James Bond special deploying chaff (thankfully no one was behind me, and the phone wound up on the shoulder, though it may have been run over first). I was able to track it down a few hours later after I realized it was missing by using my wife’s iPhone and the freebie Apple app Find My Friends.
When I went to the local Apple Store to see what my options were, Apple offered me a choice: repair the screen right then and there in under an hour, or swap it for a brand new phone. The cost to swap for a new phone was $229, or just a little more than I paid for the phone outright on contract. The cost to repair the screen was $149: $99 for AppleCare plus $49 for the screen replacement. I chose to replace the phone outright, because it nearly a year old, I’m on contract and so wouldn’t have been eligible to upgrade to the iPhone 5s (then unannounced, but presumptive), I didn’t have AppleCare and I figured the fresh battery I’d get with a new iPhone 5 was worth the bargain.
Which is all a longish way of saying that Apple’s been offering iPhone repairs in-store for some time — and it looks like that repair program’s about to expand significantly.
9to5Mac reports that Apple may be planning to offer additional in-store repairs that go well beyond the iPhone 5′s screen. Note that my phone’s glass was cracked, but the underlying area and componentry was unfazed. Had those parts been distressed, I assume my only option would have been full phone replacement. 9to5Mac’s sources say Apple is rolling out “special machinery” to allow the stores to replace and calibrate the touchscreens on the iPhone 5s and 5c, and that the cost for such replacement would be $149.
The other items on the list of in-store replaceable parts are said to include volume buttons, the vibration engine, the rear-camera, the speaker system and the Home buttons — though in the latter case, it sounds like not on the iPhone 5s, which employs a more sophisticated Touch ID fingerprint button.
The repairs should be free if you’re covered under AppleCare, but you’ll have to pony up if not — $79 for a new battery and $29 for Home button replacement, according to 9to5Mac’s sources.
When? 9to5Mac’s sources say the machines are arriving in stores now, suggesting the program could launch soon.