A cracked phone screen doesn’t have to be a life-shattering event.
Take two aspirin and call the phone doc.
What’s up with that?
Amir Sultan makes house calls with his little black bag.
“Homes, businesses, parking lots, whatever,” Sultan said. “I’ve fixed phones on boats and private jets. I was like, ‘Man, you don’t need to fix a phone, you can buy a new one.’ ”
There are many places that repair smartphone screens. Usually you have to go to them. But this guy comes to you.
Sultan, 27, of Edmonds, is an independent contractor for Smart Mobile Techs, an Oregon-based company with a force of about 40 mobile techs servicing the Pacific Northwest.
With Verizon’s device insurance, it cost $30 to replace the smashed screen after my 2-year-old granddaughter dropped her dad’s iPhone (at least he blamed her).
It’s like a co-payment to visit the doctor. Without insurance, the going rate for repairing a phone screen is about $150.
Sultan came to the house, sat at the kitchen table, and replaced the glass in 30 minutes. It would have taken less time had I not been barraging him with questions.
For the record, Sultan does not repair windshields.
Cracked phone screens are an epidemic.
Sultan repairs 150 to 200 screens a month.
“It’s a cash-cow business,” he said.
The worst offenders aren’t feisty toddlers.
“It’s drunk people,” Sultan said. Business spikes after the weekend.
There are ways to protect your screen.
“A screen protector and a case most of the time works,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just physics. Dropping it at the right spot at the right height will do it.”
The case plays a big role, he said. “Make sure the edges of the case covering the edges of the screen are a little bit high.”
He looked at my case.
“Yours is really bad,” he told me.
According to market research by IBISWorld, Americans spend more than $4 billion annually on cellphone repairs. Screen replacement is the bread-and-butter of the device repair industry.
Smart Mobile Techs owner George Kalomiris previously owned a wireless retail franchise.
“We saw a lot of frustrated customers coming into our stores saying, ‘What do I do with my cracked screen?’ Instead of sending them somewhere else, it dawned on me, ‘Wow, this is really going to be a hot service,’ ” Kalomiris said.
“People come to your home to fix your washer and dryer. A phone is as expensive. It’s an appliance.”
It’s hard to hide a cracked screen. There’s even this thing known as screen shame that makes the owner look slovenly. Ladies, to think we used to get embarrassed by a run in our pantyhose.
Gentlemen, listen up. A singles study found that women are turned off by a date whose screen is cracked.
Broken screens can also be fun when the problem is virtual. There are apps that simulate smashed screens to fake out your so-called friends.
Of course, you can try to take matters into your own hands.
If you Google “cell phone screen repair with toothpaste,” there are 2.5 million results that make it look easy. Fill a tiny crack in the screen with toothpaste and do a little magic with a soft towel to make it disappear. That is, until the veins spread like a spider web.
Other hacks deemed as “simple” are baking soda, nail polish, sandpaper and DIY kits.
DIY was Sultan’s gateway when he was a college student in Jordan in 2010.
“I was in the university and I had a Swedish girlfriend — she’s my ex now. She broke her phone. She said, ‘Oh, you’re an IT guy, you know how to fix that?’ I said, ‘Is that a challenge?’ ”
He ordered the parts online. “After 30 minutes, it was fixed,” he said.
“Next morning, people brought me iPads and phones and said, ‘Fix them.’ It was good pocket money for me. Then I got pretty famous. Everybody was, ‘Call this dude, he can help you.’ The dean of my college offered me a job networking and taking care of computer labs. That’s how it all started.”
After college, he worked in California with a small repair shop. He moved to Edmonds a year ago for the mobile tech gig. He covers the Seattle area.
So far, his adventures in Washington haven’t been able to top the customer he had while in Sacramento.
“He was out Saturday night getting some drinks, and everybody was in the street downtown and there was a fight,” Sultan said. “Someone started shooting and he was in front of the target and he got a bullet in the phone. He was super lucky that it went through the screen and battery. It stopped in the back part of the iPhone.
“The device saved his owner.”
And Sultan saved the phone.
“The board didn’t get damaged,” he said. “I removed the board to a new whole housing.”