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4 ways to protect your iPhone X

It's VERY expensive to get Apple's new phone repaired. Here's how to minimize your risk of damage in the first place -- and get cheaper insurance.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

It's terrible when any phone screen breaks. But when you already spent $1,000 or more for that phone? That's extra-terrible. Alas, that's what you're in for if your iPhone X hits the pavement or suffers some other catastrophic breakage.

Adding insult to injury, Apple charges a staggering $279 for iPhone X screen repair. It's cheaper than a new iPhone X, sure, but you know what's cheaper still? Not breaking your iPhone in the first place.

Here, then, are four ways to protect your investment -- including an insurance option that's more affordable than AppleCare.

Put it in a durable case


A rugged case, like this LifeProof Next, promises ample protection for your pricey iPhone X.


iPhones are lovely, no doubt about it, so it seems almost criminal to put one inside a case. But that's what you have to do for protection against sudden bursts of gravity (or sudden acts of butterfingers).

Ideally, opt for something extra-durable, like an OtterBox case. The Defender Series ($50), for example, offers both drop and dust protection, and a belt-clip holster means less time actually carrying your phone -- so less opportunity to drop it. It definitely adds extra bulk, though, and aesthetically it's... not an iPhone's best friend.

Want something slimmer/prettier? There are countless options, and nearly any case is better than no case. Just make sure to choose one with a raised front lip, the better to shield the screen against face-down drops.

Add a screen protector


Two layers of glass are better than one.


True story: My daughter has been known to drop her phone multiple times per day. Protective father that I am, I yelled at her a lot, then bought her a glass screen protector, one that lays right on top of the iPhone's own glass. What's the advantage? In the event of an unfortunate drop, the screen protector will absorb more of the impact, meaning it will crack before the actual screen does.

Again, I've seen this play out firsthand: screen protector, 1; iPhone, 0. By which I mean a $10 accessory protected a $600 phone.

There are tons of iPhone X-compatible screen protectors; one highly rated option is the Anker Karapax, which offers dual-layer tempered glass. You can get a two-pack for $8.95. Pair this with a case and you've got excellent -- and affordable -- protection for your iPhone X.

Get a grip

Up till now we've talked about compensating for gravity. Now let's talk about outsmarting it. I'm a big fan of accessories that make it easier to get a grip on your phone -- and less likely to drop it.

You can find half a dozen of them in this collection, but allow me to point out my favorites. First is the Ninja Loop, a simple strap that works with nearly any case. It costs all of $5 and adds absolutely no bulk or weight to the iPhone. Better still, it shouldn't interfere with wireless charging.

Second, check out PopSockets. These are flat, self-adhesive plastic discs that "pop" out to give you a two-fingered grip and a stand, the latter always a welcome perk. But they will get in the way of wireless charging, simply by preventing the back of the phone from getting close enough to the charging pad.

There's a secondary benefit to solutions like these: It'll be easier to operate your iPhone X one-handed. That's because the rear gripper lets your thumb travel edge-to-edge, something that's virtually impossible without it.

Buy insurance

All the major carriers offer iPhone insurance policies, but they're expensive. In most cases you're better off with AppleCare, though Apple charges a hefty $199 for an iPhone X AppleCare+ policy. It offers two years of protection -- including up to two "incidents" of accidental damage. You'll pay another $29 for screen repair, akin to a deductible.

However, there's another option that's a little more affordable: SquareTrade charges $129 for a two-year plan (with the option of adding a third year for $30), and it's available for all iPhones, including the iPhone X. There's also an in-home repair option that adds just a $25 deductible -- which is actually the cheapest option, because other repair methods come with a $99 deductible.

Whatever you decide, an insurance plan is likely to end up costing less than a $279 screen repair, especially if you manage to break the screen twice in two years. (It happens.) And SquareTrade's option -- though still not cheap -- feels like something you can live with to protect a $1,000 investment.

Your thoughts?