Give us your smashed, old iPhones, says startup iCracked

The repair guys at iCracked have seen Apple devices mauled by pigs, dropped from the skies, and turned into roadkill.

Tim Hornyak
Crave freelancer Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. E-mail Tim.
Tim Hornyak
3 min read
iCracked repair
This iPhone was run over by a truck, but an iCracked technician fixed it like new in 30 minutes. iCracked

Apple is expected to announce iPhones this week, and some people are already lining up to get them.

The mania surrounding the anticipated iPhone 5S and 5C will prompt many to upgrade their phones, but what if yours is in less than pristine condition? As in, smashed in a thousand pieces?

No worries. A California startup called iCracked can fix it on the spot for you. And now it's launching a full-scale buyback service for older Apple devices.

iCracked began as a casual college repair service but now has a network of hundreds of repair technicians called iTechs who make house calls. They can meet you and revive your busted-up iPhone, iPod, or iPad, even if it's in shockingly bad shape. They can also buy your device.

"We think buyback is going to be the biggest part of our business," iCracked co-founder Anthony Martin tells CNET. "Out ultimate goal is to manage the complete life cycle of your device."

iCracked has licensed affiliate technicians in the US and 10 other countries. They undergo intensive training before they can be summoned for on-the-spot repairs, which typically take 10 to 30 minutes and cost anywhere from $70 to $170. Starting next week in the San Francisco Bay Area, they will offer in-person buyback services too.

In an increasingly crowded marketplace for used devices, that's a convenient way to sell your old iPhone. But iCracked is also hoping to offer protection plans for about $6 a month with a $20 deductible.

"Thirty percent of people will break their device in the first 12 months of ownership," says the 26-year-old Martin. "The real value is in the network that we're building of the 400-plus iTechs who are all on demand and who know how to repair, purchase, sell, and insure your devices with one simple click."

Martin and co-founder A.J. Forsythe have seen all manner of iPhone calamities, from pet pigs stomping on them to iPhones being run over by trucks or falling out of the hands of skydivers. Often smashed to bits, the phones show remarkable resilience and can often be successfully repaired, as seen in the gallery of iCracked jobs below.

Shattered iPhones come back to life (pictures)

See all photos

"As long as the logic board is intact, and typically they will be, we can replace the rest of the hardware," says Martin. Cracked screens make up about 70 percent of iCracked's repair business, which Martin expects to approach $10 million this year.

The company sources parts from China and guarantees them for 99 years. That's good to know for those who hope to appear on Antiques Roadshow 2112.

Meanwhile, Martin wants iCracked to expand to cover Android repairs and buyback as well, and will start looking at Samsung devices.

"We want to facilitate the ecosystem of the top five or top 10 devices in the smartphone world," he says. "When you see that there's going to be more than five billion smartphones in the next three years on this planet, we knew that there's a big opportunity to capitalize on."