Who should be allowed to fix your smartphone?

broken iphone
broken iphone
Posted at 10:25 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 23:11:05-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - It could soon be more difficult and more expensive to get your smartphone repaired.

A local business owner is concerned big phone companies like Apple are making changes meant to hurt independent repair shops. That means if you want to get your phone fixed quick, you could be out of luck.

"It's their lifeline to the internet, their contacts. That's how you get directions. Your phone is everything to you these days," said Collin Fitzsimmons, Tallahassee's Regional Manager for Computer Repair Doctor. The company started in the Capital City and has since branched out to eight locations in five states.

Fitzsimmons says repairing smartphones is big business, even for local shops. He says last year, half of the total business at Computer Repair Doctor's Tallahassee location was fixing cracked iPhone screens.

Now, those repairs are becoming less common. Part of the reason is the way Apple is changing their phones.

"With the iPhone 7 release, they made it so that repair shops like us can't actually repair the home button anymore," said Fitzsimmons. "It takes a machine called the Horizon machine."

Those machines are only available at Apple stores. However, not everyone lives near an Apple store and according to CNN, not every store has a Horizon machine. You're then left to mail your phone in to get it fixed, which could take days or even a week plus. That's why fixing it locally is more convenient.

"It only took half a day," said Kevin Patrick, a Computer Repair Doctor customer from Tallahassee. "We brought it in this afternoon and it was done by this evening. It's a nice neighborhood business to come to and get it taken care of. We like the intimacy and the way we're treated here."

Despite the convenience, phone companies like Apple and Samsung warn customers that having an unauthorized shop fix your phone could cause even more damage or pose a security risk. 

Fitzsimmons thinks it's all about the money.

"I think it's definitely Apple trying to capture more of that market, trying to make more profit," he said. "They don't want to compete with us, they wan't to crush us."

According to The Repair Association, 12 states have introduced Fair Repair legislation. The laws would require electronic equipment manufacturers to sell repair parts and release service information, allowing you to fix your phone yourself or bring it to a local shop.

Florida and Georgia do not have legislation like this pending, but local repair shop owners say they would support it.