Cell phone repair industry ringing in the clumsy

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Have you broken your expensive smart phone, tablet or iPod? You probably didn't feel so smart. But you're not alone. The business of repairing cell phones is booming to the tune of one billion dollars a year. Here's some advice on when to fix it, when to forget it, and how to avoid breaking it in the first place.

You name it, people have found ways to break their cell phones.

"Oh, close it in the car door, drop it in the toilet," said Latasha Dunston, who's broken 8 or 9 cell phones.

Cell phone user Julie Bernier told us her cell phone story. "I went to hug her and it was awkward and she punched it out of my hand and it fell in the gravel and shattered the whole screen."

And Dodge Landesman told us how he broke his. "I jumped in the Potomac and I forgot my cell phone was actually in the pocket of my pants."

Cell phones have been dropped into food, dropped out of the window of moving cars, even thrown in the heat of the moment.

That has the phone ringing off the hook at I-Rite, a cell phone repair company. Lee Whritenour says the company's been booming since he opened it four months ago.

"Exponential, its just blowing up!" he said.

Ibis World reports the cell phone repair industry, which just started about 5 years ago, is growing 11% a year because it's often cheaper to repair it, than replace it.

"$650 versus $79 dollars, which is what we charge for an iPhone 4S, or (repairing) an iPhone 5 is $180. Again that's still $650. So repairing is a lot cheaper," Whritenour explained.

Whritenour can repair most problems in a half hour. Although not everything can be fixed, such as serious water damage, and destruction of the frame.

"Replacing the frame on the phone, you're better off buying a new phone, because you have to remove every single piece of it and replace it," he explains.

He recommends using a protective case like an Otterbox or a Lifeproof case. You can also buy insurance, but be sure to compare your deductible to potential repair costs.

"You're paying $5 a month on top of the deductible. The deductible usually ranges between $120 and $200, depending on your phone," said Whritenour of insurance policies.

His best advice is to avoid the top phone breaking situations: don't sit down when it's in your back pocket, don't take it to the bathroom or gym, don't leave it where a dog can chew on it, and don't set it on top of the car.

Take it from Latasha Dunston, who's broken several phones, "As soon as I turned 18, my mom kicked me off the cell phone plan because obviously I was a great expense."

Here's a last tip: If your phone is damaged by water, experts recommend immediately removing the battery and sim card and putting it in a bag of uncooked rice, which will absorb some of the moisture.

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