The Grouse: 5 Stages of iPhone Grief

Our tech reporter comes to terms with the imperfection of his favorite gadget.

Cracked iPhone

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Its never a good thing when you drop your baby. Its altogether tragic when its face gets roughed up as a result. Whats worse is when you cant get any help patching it up. Yep, my iPhone now has a crack across its screen. It fell all of two feet from an unzipped coat pocket and landed in what appears to be the precise configuration required for causing maximum damage: smack on the corner. A trip to the nearby Apple Store got the five stages of grief on a roll. I was already at denial, thinking they would simply give me a new one. Wrong: That ship sailed months ago.

Cue anger at the estimated $250 repair bill—and the realization that drops arent covered by warranty or insurance. Bargaining came with the idea that I would find a kind Genius Bar guy to tell a made-up story that exonerated me from any baby-dropping responsibility. Depression will inevitably come, but Ill be honest--Im back to being angry again.

I understand that a ton of protective outerwear has been created for the Apple i-line, but shouldnt a minimum amount of rough-and-tumble be tolerated by products labeled as portable? I dont expect my HDTV to bounce back from a drop of a few feet, but how low have our consumer expectations fallen at this point? My old Treo 700p, along with the half-dozen other phones Ive owned, could be dropped, bounced, jostled and still survive handily. Any portable device, much less one that costs $400, ought to be able to deal with regular wear-and-tear—which includes dropping—as a matter of course. And they should be repairable for a reasonable sum (ie, not two-thirds of the purchase price).

Heres a lark: build the Gen 2 iPhone with a shock-absorbing rubber gasket around the screen, and a rubberized, slip-proof body, to boot. Now thats something Ill be willing to accept. In the meantime, Im just living with the crack since it doesnt affect usage for now. Non-Apple screen repair kits and services abound—a new cottage industry has blossomed!—but they void the warranty, so arent good options for me. So, Im buying a hard case.

Who else has dropped their baby? Id love to hear how many of you found a sympathetic Genius, or if anyone has had luck doing repairs themselves or through a service. Tell me about it in the comments.