I've long felt that too many people have become too attached to their smartphones.
But not only do people have an unhealthy and often annoying attachment to these devices, they are spending billions to repair broken phones so they can continue their addictions to talking, tweeting, texting, downloading stuff from the Internet and playing games.
Consumers have spent $5.9 billion to repair, replace or pay insurance deductibles for damaged iPhones since they went on sale in 2007, according to SquareTrade, a leading consumer electronics protection plan provider. In just the last year, 30 percent of users have damaged their device. The San Francisco-based company surveyed more than 2,000 iPhone users.
"We were shocked at the numbers," said SquareTrade's chief marketing officer Ty Shay.
And get this. Of all the people who were surveyed, 9 percent damaged their phone by dropping it in the toilet. I have to ask: Really, the toilet? Then again, how many times have you been in a public restroom and heard someone talking on a cellphone? Some conversations can wait. In many cases, Shay said, the phone fell out of a pocket or clip-on.
Five percent of users have accidentally put their phone in the washing machine. The liquids most commonly spilled on phones: water (43 percent), soda (19 percent), beer and wine (12 percent) and coffee and tea (12 percent). The most frequent way people damage their phone is to drop it.
Shay said people often resign themselves to keep a damaged device because it costs so much to replace an iPhone if they aren't eligible for special price breaks when they sign up for a long-term contract with a carrier. Eleven percent of iPhone owners keep using the phone with a cracked screen, while 6 percent have taped up their phone. The survey found that 17 percent of iPhone users have damaged their device more than once.
It's no surprise that the survey found that young iPhone users are more likely to have accidents with their phones. One in two iPhone owners under 35 has damaged a phone.
How can you get protection for a phone that gets damaged in an accident? Cellphone carriers will insure your phone for about $4 to $8 a month with a $25 to $100 or more deductible, according to Consumer Reports. But the companies may replace your damaged phone with a repaired or refurbished one.
Consumer Reports doesn't recommend getting insurance or extended warranties. Instead, the magazine says to hold on to your old phone until the new phone's contract ends. If you damaged your newer phone, just reactivate the old one and use it until you qualify for a free or low-cost phone.
If you decide to get a plan, shop around. Check consumer ratings of the companies offering insurance. An insurance plan with SquareTrade costs $99 for two years of coverage with a $50 deductible, Shay said.
Consumers have spent $5.9 billion on damaged iPhones since 2007.