"I broke my iPhone!" "That'll be six hundred bucks!"

Okay, that’s not… right, right? I have an AT&T contract and an iPhone 4S. I drop it all the damned time, but this one was the charm - totally shattered screen. I spent two hours repairing it today with a kit and then managed to snap off a connector and declared it totaled. Went to the AT&T store and they were all - no insurance? No, I’ll just get a new one. Well, since your contract isn’t up yet that will be six hundred bucks or we can do a new line for you and you can pay 9.99 for 24 months…

<record scratch> Wait, what?

So, next fall when the 5 comes out all those people standing in line will be buying the non-contracted phone at the $600 price? I seriously doubt it. I KNOW I’ve bought phones before when I still had contract to go and it just added onto the contract or whatever.

Now, it so happens that I still have my old iPhone 4, which I always meant to sell but when I found out that my 4S doesn’t work with my car system I’ve kept for that purpose. The home button often doesn’t work, but now that I’ve seen what it is (BY THE WAY IT’S JUST TAPED TO THAT MOTHERFUCKER and also I’d like to apologize to every Chinese person ever now that I’ve opened that son of a bitch up) surely I can get somebody to fix that until the next one comes out. But… I mean, that isn’t correct, is it? Surely if I break my phone I don’t have to pay the non-contract price?

Yes, you do. Why is this surprising?

In return for signing a 2-year contract they get you a $600 phone for $200.
Why would they want to give you 2 discounted phones?
This fall when the iphone5 comes out my contract is up for renewal so I’ll be one of those persons in line getting it for $200.

Yes, a smart phone costs about 500 bucks. Yes, it’s amortized as part of a multi-year contract for most people, so they don’t notice the cost. But when replacing a broken or lost phone, the cost becomes very apparent.

It’s true that, in many cases, the provider will let you upgrade a few months before the term is up with minimal fuss… if you renew your contract.

The people who wait all night to get the latest model are either paying full price or entering into a contract. Many of them expect to sell their old phone to compensate.

I’m not sure what you’d expect. Most carriers allow you to upgrade early somewhere around 18 months into your 24-month contract. You’ve only had the phone for six months or so.

AT&T’s subsidy on the iPhone comes to about $450, on average. AT&T’s average profit per iPhone customer is approximately $400, over the entire 24-month contract. Buying you another iPhone because you dropped yours would result in them losing money on you.

You might try taking your phone to Apple. They generally charge $200 to repair a broken screen. Sometimes they will just charge you that $200 and give you a refurbished model in exchange, instead of making you wait for yours to repaired - in which case, they might not immediately notice the further damage you did. FYI, you can find plenty of third-party shops that will repair a broken screen for under $100, although of course you’re out of luck now.

Regarding upgrades - many people do not upgrade to every single new model of iPhone. Those that do generally sell their old phone privately. Apple’s stuff holds value very well, so a 1-year-old iPhone is still worth about $400 - approximately the value of the subsidy anyway.

If you are really prone to dropping your phone that much, a sturdy protective case would be a good bet.

Go to an Apple Store. Both myself and my secretary busted our iPhones in the last two weeks and the Sprint store I went to tried to sell me a new one for $600+. But I drove to the Apple store and they did it for $150. That’s for my 4S. My secretary’s was a 4 and it was $100 for a replacement.

My iPhone 4 fell out of my pocket and the screen shattered.
DOH!
I called Apple. They told me not covered by Apple care (knew that)
They set an appointment and told me they would exchange it on site for 200 but sometimes it might be a bit less if I was nice. (you would be amazed how nice I can be when are on the line)
Anyway I went to the Apple store talked with the employee there (yeah I know I’m an idiot, yeah I know it isn’t warranty, etc)
Anyway after several clicks on his touch the Apple guy says “It’s not covered by warranty, but you have Apple care, and you have never used it, so as a one time goodwill gesture there will be no charge today.”
I could have kissed him.
Apple rocks.

Also, get the insurance. I’ve never had insurance on my phone, but I’m really careful about not dropping it. Of all the phones I’ve had, I’ve never broken one and I’ve probably only dropped them 10 times. I think of my last two smart phones I’ve only dropped them twice and that was because I got a new jacket and started carrying it in a different pocket. Now, part of my ‘system’ when I go anywhere involves making sure that pocket is snapped shut.

I dunno, when I used to have un-fancy phones it seems like if I wanted a new one I could just extend my contract. I’d have been fine with doing that!

un-fancy phones dont cost $700.

So I’ll give you another two years that you can add onto my years you already have me for. You still get my business for an agreed on period of time, which is the point of subsidizing a phone.

When I first got my iPhone the carrier did not include them in their usual mobile insurance (now they do), you had to get a higher-priced high-deductible service plan specially for it. I suppose they were trying to first see just how often people would lose/break it. And yes, nonsubsidized MSRP is $650 to $850 depending on storage capacity. Heck, regular old celphones the carriers “gave away free” would have MSRP in the $100+ range, and that’s locked.

Ughh. Something like this occured to me a few years back when the SO insisted we get Razor phones. I didn’t want a cell phone period. But I got a Razor whether I wanted it or not. Eventually I (honestly) accidentally killed it. SO was enthusiatic about getting a new Razor phone/ball and chain for me…until she found out it was 500 dollars for a new one. After that I was in relative bliss with an el cheapo Walmart version of the Jitterbug for a few years (we swapped chips or sumptin).

Craigslist is a great place to get used smartphones. Many people sell their old phones when they upgrade or switch to another carrier.

Cheap insurance.

Got mine on eBay for about $50, been working great for about a year and a half.

Your fucking cellphone is ruining your life. Seek help.

No, if you ‘renew’ at the 1 year time point instead of the 2 year time point they only get 3 years of contract with you, not 4 years.

They lose 1 year worth of subsidized money off of you. With the cost of modern smart phones that might actually make the cell phone company lose money when they deal with you.

So no. They’re not going to do that.

…? Look, I’m not losing sleep over it, I was just surprised.

I was yesterday too. I have a Blackberry Bold that I was happy enough with…woke up yesterday morning and the screen was not functioning. I could not get it to work and neither could the guy at the Verizon store. So, when I inquired as to a replacement, I was shocked to learn that it was $400! For a Blackberry!

Now, I knew about how cell companies amortize newer phones for new customer contracts/upgrades, but I was honestly surprised that 2006 era technology still cost so much.

Not after the OP. He opened the phone and tampered with it. Apple will never touch it again.

No, like others said, you got a heavily discounted phone in exchange for signing the contract, and you don’t get another heavy discount within that same contract period. You pay full price for whatever phone you get to replace it, whether is an iphone, android or basic phone. There’s nothing shocking about this other than the entitlement mentality of some people who insist that companies have to keep giving them stuff for free because of something they themselves did.

If you get another iPhone, never tamper with it. Likely they would have replaced it for $199 if you’d have gone to them straight away.