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Top 5 ways to kill your iPhone

A new survey indicates we've spent nearly $6 billion on repairs and replacements to damaged iPhones. And the device is 10 times more likely to be accidentally damaged than lost or stolen.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 18, 2012 1:42PM
Logo: Businessman in car with smartphone Image Source, Image Source, Getty ImagesAre you one of those people who has to upgrade with every iPhone iteration? Let me give you two pieces of advice: 
  • The iPhone 5 is probably just as hard to hold on to as its predecessors.
  • IPhones can't swim.
Impact and water are the top dangers to iPhones, according to a new survey from the consumer electronics warranty company SquareTrade. And it's costing users a pretty penny.

Think "billions."

Some $5.9 billion has been spent on insurance deductibles, repair and replacement since the brand's 2007 introduction, the report says. Not that everyone is willing to pay big bucks for repairs: 6% of the 2,000 survey respondents said they used tape on their cracked phones.

The top five ways phones are damaged or destroyed: 
  1. Phone dropped from hand.
  2. Phone fell into a toilet, swimming pool or lake.
  3. Phone dropped from lap.
  4. Phone knocked off a table.
  5. Phone drenched by "some liquid."
"We were astonished at how many people drop their phones in the toilet, as well as how frequently an innocuous drop from the hand actually killed the device," says Ty Shay of SquareTrade.

The iPhone 5 isn't immune to hacking, either. For tips on how to protect yourself, see "IPhone 5: How to keep it secure."

It's a little scary to think of spending so much money on a piece of hardware and then dropping it in the drink. Given how some people consider smartphones to be extensions of their brains, I guess they don't want to quit tweeting or Facebooking even long enough to use the toilet.

(Seriously: Stop it. No one wants to see that particular status update.)

Bathroom mishaps
But one guy I know says that men like taking smartphones into the restroom because it gives them something to read. No need to carry a rolled-up newspaper under your arm, which means that (A) you get newsprint on your shirt, and (B) everybody knows where you're going and what's about to go down.

(None of the women I know take reading material into the can. Is this a man thing?)

The same guy told me that a common mishap is the smartphone sliding out of one’s shirt pocket when they lean over to flush. It almost happened to him, in fact, but he made a save that would have drawn applause from Willie Mays. That near loss was enough to make him "far more careful" ever since.
But what if you bobble that particular save and your iPhone gets baptized? Or suppose your cellphone ends up in the washing machine? Try the dry-out tips in this Smart Spending post, "Cell phone in the toilet bowl?" Another guy I know sent his smartphone through the wash and was able to resuscitate it using the rice technique noted in the post.

Obviously, you should check your pockets very carefully before dumping clothes in the washer. I'd also suggest not taking your phone into the bathroom. You might wind up like the poor sap who tried to fish his cellphone from a commuter-train toilet and wound up with his arm stuck in the commode. This New Yorker's need to be rescued (by the fire department, not a plumber) caused a massive backup of the evening commute out of Grand Central Station.

Worse: His name wound up in the paper. Imagine the ribbing he took from co-workers every time he took a bathroom break.

What's the weirdest way you ever damaged a cellphone?

More on MSN Money:

Dec 14, 2012 4:43PM
I saw a kid at a hotel pool who was so excited to go down the water slide that he forgot his cell phone was in his back pocket. 
Sep 20, 2012 2:01PM
Although I have an iPhone, I hate it, but it's too hard to move everything over to a new device. It once fell out of my pocket in a movie theater and hit the floor (maybe an 18 inch fall). The phone then went 'No SIM card found" for an hour and then finally came back to life. What a nightmare. I had a BB in the past and it was like a Timex watch, i beat the crap out of thing and couldn't kill it. Do they not do drop tests for this thing?
Sep 19, 2012 6:55PM
Our local food bank used to be open one day a week, now it's open 5 days.  It now sees more people in one day than it used to see in a week, AND YET, Apple gets 5 million plus pre-orders for a phone that is MARGINALLY better, if at all, than the previous generation, and people flock to replace their old one.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to FORCE anyone to do anything they don't want to with their money, but you have to shake your head.  Keep your old phone and give to those less fortunate.

A thumbs down, really?
What kind of self absorbed butthead could that be?  Apple employee maybe?

Sep 19, 2012 5:33PM
I need a case for my Obamafone, or I'm not voting.
Sep 19, 2012 5:10PM

Duh get Lifeproof case for IPhone 4...problem solved!! Waterproof!!!


Sep 19, 2012 4:43PM
two words... Otter Box.  The clip is a poorly designed P.O.S., but the phone case is damn near indestructible. Believe me i've tried...
Sep 19, 2012 4:28PM
Throwing it at one of your employees apparently didn't make the top five.  Guess we don't have as many divas as we have klutzes. 
Sep 19, 2012 3:53PM
First problem is buying an iphone. They are flimsy and not durable. Cant tell you how many people I know who dropped it from 1 foot and screen shattered. What a waste of money, people have spent 6 billion on repairs? No wonder why people are struggling to make their monthly bills, priorities are all messed up. Need the latest and greatest phone, need a i-pad, need $270 pair of Lebron James nikes.
Sep 19, 2012 3:36PM
I am very happy and satisfied with my $60 device from MetroPCS, thank you very much!!!
Sep 19, 2012 2:44PM
I wonder if they have the same problems with android iphone starting shorting out inside after dropping it ONCE and I was told I would have to buy a new one because my $80 warranty on it didn't cover it.  I have NEVER had good luck with the Iphones and they seem really fragile in comparison.  Plus I hate having to make a 'genius' appointment and still wait an extra 30 minutes for them to not fix the problem.
Sep 19, 2012 2:43PM

The best I have seen is a phone going in the purse, the cough syrup in there spilling on it and getting under the screen..


I have employees who have dropped in the toilet, dropped from their hand, fell out of the moving car, left on the edge of the truck bed and fell off and was run over, stolen, lost, washed, and dropped in the pool when the towel was picked up.  The most common are toilet and washing machine.  I liked the one guy who bought a new smartphone for his wife at full price ($500) and that night she dropped the phone into the cupholder where she normally puts it in her car, only she forgot she put a full soda with no lid in that cupholder.. PLOP.  He had to buy a second full price phone twice in one week.  Ooops.

Sep 19, 2012 2:30PM
iPhones are expensive. Stop taking them to the pool, the toilet, the lake and on the boat. Stop dropping them. Best advice you can get: Treat them like the $400 dollar devices that they are.
Sep 19, 2012 2:15PM
Why can't they make a case with a place for a small strap to attach ?? all of my other phones had that, I always wrapped it in my hand when using. Up to now, one phone flew off chair 5 feet into a jacuzzi  (I don't take it to the pool anymore) and another went into the wash for 1/2 a cycle-it dryed out in the rice bag-don't take it to the laundry any more. Now I have 3 phones, 2 backup (an old flip and a Samsung-just in case) and the iPhone, which I am paranoid about even with insurance and a decent case. Life!!
Sep 19, 2012 1:51PM
Unfortunately, I've been one two have dropped the phone in the toilet not once, but twice. Yes, friends and neighbors, I'm THAT girl. I don't carry the phone into the bathroom for reading material so much as, with three sons, a husband, a dog, and numerous other distractions, the powder room (yeah, let me try to make it sound a little more feminine that the "john"), is the only place where I get peace and quiet. The first time, it slipped out of my jean pocket as I was preparing to leave the stall, and the other time, it slid off of the back of the toilet as I was washing my hands. The first time, I had an otterbox, and after immediately shutting it down and placing it in a bag of rice overnight, I was good to go.  The second time, no otterbox, tried the rice in the bag trick, and the phone crapped (no pun intended) out on me three days later. Let it be no shock to anyone that this article was forwarded to me numerous times.
Sep 19, 2012 1:24PM
I highly recommend getting an Otterbox with a silicone casing!  I drop my iPhone a lot and it just bounces.  Also my husband thought he left his iPhone inside a taxi, but when he tracked it via findmyiphone app, he found it on TOP of the taxi.  That thing was cruising around for almost a whole day without flying off, thanks to Otterbox!
Sep 19, 2012 1:09PM
(None of the women I know take reading material into the can. Is this a man thing?)
I'm a man, so this is a guess...
Women sit down 100% of the time, men maybe 20-25%. Men's hands are busy the other 75-80%. Men are conscious about where they look, too. So reading becomes a factor. Yea or nay?
Sep 19, 2012 12:15PM
I'm still using a plain little cell phone. It makes and receives calls. I cannot understand why anyone would spend 8 hours a day on a phone. Do something with no interuptions, get some exercise and get a life.
Sep 19, 2012 12:05PM
A water proof / shock proof case solves all but the most extreme of any of these situations.
Sep 19, 2012 11:53AM

As I was telling my youngest to turn it off and stop playing while walking he stepped off a curb and fell on the driveway with my iPhone face down. It had a tiny scratch, but no crack, so I thought I was in the clear. Until the next day while looking at the phone I heard a pop and suddenly saw the need to clean my screen bc something was on it. Alas, not dirt, but a crack running the whole length of the screen. And I didn't get extra warranty and I'm still under contract. Too much to replace on my own and too much to get fixed, but it still works, so I will use it until my contract's up.

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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.