When your devices need repairs, here’s where to start

We looked at the steps for Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung so you don't have to.
a person working on a disassembled phone
If you don't feel confident doing this, let the pros help. Kilian Seiler/Unsplash

Gadgets are so central to our lives that when they break, we do whatever’s necessary to get them functioning again. That includes knowing when a problem is beyond our expertise and that it’s time to turn to the professionals.

When your phone or laptop needs attention, your options vary depending on where you bought it and which manufacturer made it. If you purchased the device less than a year ago and it has developed a problem that isn’t your fault, you can often get it repaired for free by contacting the manufacturer.

But navigating the repair policies of major companies can be daunting, and while we can’t cover every gadget-maker and retailer in the country in detail, we can provide some pointers about dealing with the big names—and get you quickly on your way to having a fully working device again.

Apple device repairs

If you’ve got an Apple laptop or phone, it’s covered by a one-year warranty from the moment you buy it. If something breaks before that year is up, and it wasn’t your fault, Apple will fix it, or even replace it, for free. Signing up for AppleCare protection essentially extends that warranty.

To get your repair or replacement, you’ll need to book an appointment at an Apple store or authorized Apple service provider (an outfit that meets the company’s repair standards). Find your local options from this page, and make sure everything is backed up before you take your gadget in, just in case something goes wrong. When you arrive, though, the engineers you speak to should be able to let you know if they’ll need to wipe any data.

How long the repair will take depends on what needs to be fixed and how busy they are at the store you’ve chosen—again, the staff you speak to should be able to advise. Apple says a screen repair can sometimes be done the day you bring it in, while other tasks might take a week or longer. The age of your device might also play a part here, as it could affect how easily Apple is able to get replacement parts.

You can book your device for a repair even if the warranty has expired and you don’t have AppleCare protection—but it’ll cost you. You’ll get an estimate before you commit, but based on Apple’s official guidance, an iPhone battery repair can set you back $49 to $69, while an iPhone screen repair may cost you between $129 and $329, depending on the model.

a screenshot of descriptions for repairs and physical damage on Apple devices
Apple will ask you questions about the state of your device. David Nield

Google device repairs

Google doesn’t have a hardware business anywhere near the scale of Apple’s, but it does sell Google-branded Chromebooks and Pixel phones. These devices are covered by a warranty that applies for one year, starting the day you purchased the phone or laptop. The company will fix any defects that emerge during those 12 months for free (or you’ll get a replacement device).

If you need a repair, you can start at Google’s Repair Center, after making sure you have copies of your most important data elsewhere. You’ll have to enter a few details about the device and how it’s been damaged or become defective, and then, based on those details, you’ll get some repair options to choose from, including how much it will cost if your hardware is out of warranty.

Google doesn’t have its own stores, but it does allow certain partners to carry out repairs on its behalf. It’ll show you the repair centers in your area, and if there isn’t one nearby, you can mail it off to be fixed. Once you’ve handed the device over, the shop will check it out. If they have to change the quote for your repair, they’ll inform you and ask if you still want to go ahead.

The company says repairs can take up to 10 days, though you should get a more precise estimate when you work through the steps we’ve linked above. Google promises to keep you updated at each stage of the process while you’re without your device, and will give you advice on how to pack and ship your hardware, if that’s necessary. If you’ve got any questions, Google has put plenty of support documentation online, should you have any further questions.

Samsung device repairs

Samsung warranties for laptops and phones run for a year, and as long as you haven’t caused the damage to your device, the company will repair it for free. Even if you have, you can still book a repair, but you’ll have to pay. As always, you should make sure everything on your device is backed up before you start the repair process.

You can do so by requesting a repair from this page. Samsung has a limited number of stores in the US, but if you’re not near one of them, you can use one of Samsung’s official repair partners instead. You’ll have to provide details about your device, what’s wrong with it, and your location.

The Samsung site might point you toward uBreakiFix, depending on where you are and what needs to be repaired. In this case you can drop your item off at a store, mail it in, or even get a technician to visit your home. If you decide to make an appointment at a Samsung or uBreakiFix store, the location will give you a choice of timed slots to pick from.

You should get an estimate of how long the repair is going to take when you tell Samsung about your device and the problem. According to Samsung, some battery and screen replacements can be carried out the same day if you bring your gadget into a store, but this isn’t guaranteed. At any point you can use the Samsung website and your Service Request Number to get an update on your repair.

a screenshot of the repair options for Samsung devices
Samsung will come to you, or you can go to Samsung. David Nield

Microsoft device repairs

Microsoft isn’t in the business of making phones at the moment, but it does manufacture a wide range of Surface computers. These devices come with a one-year warranty that covers all defects that happen in that time, but that doesn’t cover accidental damage. Unless your problem is a hardware defect that happened less than a year after you purchased the device, you’ll need to pay for the fix.

Before you think about a repair, you’ll need to make sure all of your important data is backed up somewhere else, and that you’ve registered your device with Microsoft—you can get more details on that here. You’ll need to have a Microsoft account to request a repair from Microsoft, and if you don’t have one, you can start the setup process on this page.

In addition to confirming the serial number of your device, you’ll need to enter some details about the condition that it’s in. Then, you’ll be given a quote for the cost of the repair (if it isn’t covered by the warranty). Once your computer has been assessed, the engineers will confirm that estimate with you.

Microsoft doesn’t have its own repair shops, so you’ll need to mail your device to a repair center to get it fixed. Microsoft says that it typically takes between three and 12 business days for it to return a computer to you, though this will depend on exactly what’s wrong with it. While you’re waiting for the repair to be carried out, you can sign into your Microsoft account online to get updates on its current status.

Repairs for devices purchased at electronics retailers

Not everyone buys their gadgets directly from manufacturers, and retailers might have their own arrangements involving product fixes and returns. In most cases though, the manufacturer’s warranty still applies: If a problem develops under warranty that wasn’t your fault, you can choose whether to contact the retailer (you’ll probably get a replacement) or the manufacturer (you’ll usually get replacement or repair options).

Amazon, for example, offers a one-year warranty on its own electronics (like Echo speakers and Kindles), but leaves the manufacturer warranties in place for everything else. If your Amazon device develops a fault under warranty, you can ship it back to Amazon for a refund or a replacement. Once these gadgets are out of warranty, though, you’ll need to get in touch with a third-party service for a repair.

Best Buy also relies on manufacturer warranties, though it offers an extended warranty of its own—you can sign up if you don’t mind spending some extra money for additional peace of mind. The usual warranty rules still apply on these extended warranties, so you’ll need to pay to fix damage that you’ve caused yourself (if you need more coverage, consider gadget insurance).

Besides warranty repair, Best Buy offers numerous tech support and repair services, for a fee—you can take a computer or phone to a Best Buy store to have its technicians fix it up for you. Prices and turnaround times vary by device and problem, but screen repairs and battery replacements can often be handled within a day. Start on this page if you’ve got something you’d like Best Buy to fix.