My date with iCracked on-site iPhone repair, part 1

No time to find a repair shop? This service will dispatch a tech to your home, office, or another meeting place.

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The iCracked app lets you request an on-site repair tech. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Take it from me: a busted iPhone can ruin your whole day. I've seen firsthand the results of a brush with concrete, and I know from experience that DIY iPhone screen repair is difficult and often unsuccessful.

It's also time-consuming. If you need your phone fixed now and want it done right, you have a couple options. You can take it to an Apple store, but be prepared to pay anywhere from $149 to $269, depending on the model. It will also take three to five days.

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A few taps is all it takes to request a repair quote. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Another option: iCracked. This service contracts with local techs for on-site repairs of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches. That means a tech in your area will come to your home or office, or even meet you at the location of your choice. And assuming your device is still functional, you can even use the new iCracked app to submit your request.

WhyCracked?

Suppose you're walking from the subway station to your office. Somebody bumps you and your phone hits the pavement. The screen gets seriously cracked. [Expletive deleted.] You've got meetings all day and no time to deal with this. That's where a service like this might really save the day. With a few taps now and few minutes later, you could be heading home with a fixed iPhone.

Indeed, I have an old iPhone 4 with a busted screen, one that I could either sell or hand down to my son. Either way, it needs repair, so I decided to put iCracked to the test. And because it still works, I used the app.

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iCracked will also stop by and buy your busted device outright, though don't expect maximum cash. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Paging Dr. Screengood

Right from the start, you'll see that iCracked offers both repair and purchase options. Just out of curiosity, I checked to see how much I could get for that busted iPhone 4. The app wouldn't let me fine-tune the "Cracked Glass" condition option; it seemed to suggest that both the front and rear glass were cracked and the "LCD was not functioning correctly." Maybe this meant to indicate the phone had one of these issues, not all three, but the buyout price was just $20. I could do better on Ebay. Of course, then I'd have to photograph it, list it, ship it, and all that. iCracked picks it up and pays you, easy-peasy.

Anyway, I wanted mine fixed, so I chose that option, selected my phone model and carrier, selected an issue (iCracked can also handle battery and water-damage repairs, though not always on-site), and entered my contact info. Then I waited.

For how long? And what happened next? Tune in Wednesday for part two, when I reveal what the iCracked repair process was like, how much it cost, and whether I consider it a viable option for getting an iPhone fixed. Spoiler alert: You may be surprised.

 

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