Sunday
Dec102017

Warranty vs Insurance and what it means for you

 

When purchasing smartphones and mobile devices such as iPhones, Androids, Galaxies and tablets the most common question that comes up; typically from a sales rep at your carrier store is: "Would you like insurance for the device?"

Often times we see confusion around what a warranty is, what insurance is and even extended warranty and what they do and don't cover.

 

 

 

  • Warranty

 

 

A warranty is "contract" or claim between the consumer and the manufacturer that the purchased product from said manufacturer will be free of defects in materials and workmanship or it will be replaced within a period of time. Most manufacturers offer a 1 year (12-months) [limited] Warranty whch vary according to jurisdiction, but commonly new goods are sold with implied warranty that the goods are as advertised.

 

  • A warranty is typically free and included with a the sale of a new product from an authorized vendor.

 

"In the United States, various laws apply, including provisions in the Uniform Commercial Code which provide for implied warranties. However, these implied warranties were often limited by disclaimers. In 1975 the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act was passed to strengthen warranties on consumer goods. Among other things, under the law implied warranties cannot be disclaimed if an express warranty is offered, and attorney fees may be recovered. In some states statutory warranties are required on new home construction, and "lemon laws" apply to motor vehicles."

What this means for you as the end-user customer is if you purchase a device such as an iPhone from Apple they are guaranteeing the device will last a full 12months (1 calandar year) from the date of purchase.

There are exceptions to this implied warranty, such as physical damage, customer tampering and unauthorized modifications.

When a manufacturer produces a [tangible] product they know the exact specifications, working conditions and capabilites of the device. In the case of a phone, it will function as claimed, it will not show any signs of failure, it will remain in good physical condition and lastly it will meet the customers expectations of usability. 

When a customer changes the device from its original condition, as with a broken or cracked screen from a fall or drop, this invalidates the warranty and the claim between the end-user and the manufacturer. At this point the warrenty is no longer valid for said device. 

Another example of a warrenty no longer being valid is when the user chooses to open the device and make modifications outside of the normal operating conditions. This could be such as modifying the software on android by rooting it to run un-approved third party applications, or in the case of an iOS device; jailbreaking would open up the software in the device to make changes that were not intended from the manufacturer.

Exceptions to this are laws passed such as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act 

The statute is remedial and is intended to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices. Consumer products are not required to have warranties, but if one is given, it must comply with the Magnuson-Moss Act.

Enacted in 1975, the federal statute governs warranties on consumer products. The law does not require any product to have a warranty (it may be sold "as is"), but if it does have a warranty, the warranty must comply with this law. The law was created to fix problems as a result of manufacturers using disclaimers on warranties in an unfair or misleading manner.

 

Examples of valid warrenty claims:

 

  • Device not booting
  • Faulty battery causing random shut downs
  • Software inconsistencies 

 

 

Examples of invalid warrenty claims:

 

 

 

 

 

  •  
    • Insurance 
  •  


    Insurance is an optional form of protection on a device often sold with the product at the time of sale.

    Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss. It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss.

    An entity which provides insurance is known as an insurer, insurance company, or insurance carrier. A person or entity who buys insurance is known as an insured or policyholder. The insurance transaction involves the insured assuming a guaranteed and known relatively small loss in the form of payment to the insurer in exchange for the insurer's promise to compensate the insured in the event of a covered loss. The loss may or may not be financial, but it must be reducible to financial terms, and must involve something in which the insured has an insurable interest established by ownership, possession, or preexisting relationship.

     

 

 Mobile phone insurance is rarely provided by the manufacturer or vendor, but instead offered by bigger companies. Within the mobile device market exsists 3 main insurance providers; SquareTrade, Asurion, Geek Squad.

 

Mobile phone insurance exsists to cover the gap between a warranty and physical damage caused to a device.

 

Phone insurance is normally provided with a month by month plan ranging from $15 - $99 as well as a Deductible at the time of the claim. The insurance companies will "repair" or replace the device with a unit of the same or similiar model when requested.

Different from a warranty, the insurance will offer a solution when presented with a broken device such as a cracked screen, broken charger port, or liquid damaged device.

The insurance plan is typically attached to a customers bill ontop of a carriers monthly account. This is because most often the carriers are given a share of the payment which is typically passed down to the sales reps in the form of commission, although most insurance providers will offer open enrollment in periods shortly after a device was purchased.

On the surface insurance seems like a great option to protect your investment and potentially extend its life, there are some downfalls which are often not mentioned.

Insurance is a cash cow for everyone involved except the customer, as mentioned previously the sales rep earn commission when included with the sale, this may be at a retail location such as Best Buy, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile. Often times the insurance plans will require a monthly fee plus a payment (deductable) when the user starts a claim. Most of the time this amount will exceed the amount of any repair that could have been performed at a local repair shop. When submitting a claim through an insurance provider you often need to provide the original receipt with proof of purchase for insurance. Once this is provided a representative will open a claim with a payment of about $99. (average market price) The user will then need to wait for a replacement phone to be shipped to the customers address within 1-2 business days. Most of the time the phone sent to the user will not be new, but instead be a refurbished device, typically having fake or used parts, often times a phone in lesser condition then the phone submitting a claim for. We've already gone into detail about the devices we see as insurance phones in a separate post:

Secrets Your Mobile Phone Insurance Company Doesn't Want You To Know

If you owned an iPhone 6 for 1 year and then dropped the phone and developed a cracked screen then submitted a claim to an insurance provider such as Asurion or Squaretrade you would typically pay $220 to replace the device. This would be broken down into 12 monthly payments of $10 ($120) + $100 deductable and then wait 1-2 days for a replacement device to be sent. Once the replacement device is received a 72hr window is allowed for the original device to be sent back to the insurance provider. But what if you have sensitive data on the device you wish to obtain before sending away the device? This then causes more expense to the end user to get data extracted from the device from a local repair shop, often times averaging to $65. This claim that was submitted for only a broken screen on a device can quickly rise to be almost $300 when most repair shops offering cracked screen repairs only cost $99 and take less than 20mins, all while retaining the original data.

The insurance providers often only allow 2 claims per year.

 

Insurance providers are so keen on keeping their cash cow flowing that even in the case of claim that was submitted for a lost device they will often block the IMEI or ESN even if the original phone is found. This can prevent some cases of fraudulent claims, but it can also present problems for users who wanted to keep an older device as a backup or transfer files over a cellular network. 

In conclusion, we can see that unless you have suffered loss or theft on a device then it is not finacially sound to use mobile phone insurance as a form of "repair" for you device. 99% of the time most insurance providers will only replace the device, only then to send you a device of lesser quality and force you to pay high fees and wait times for something that could have been repaired same day often within 1hr of the damage at a repair shop.

   

Thursday
Sep142017

Is Tekdry is a scam? The truth behind the water damage repair machine

 

 

If you've ever gotten your favorite mobile device wet, you've certainly tried the rice trick (which has been proven to be moot)

 

Surely there has to be a easy fix right? The short answer is no, but that's not what a new emerging tech company called "TekDry" wants you to think. 

Tekdry has built and developed a machine that allows you to take a device that has been submerged in liquid (most commonly water) 

 

The premise behind tekdrys machine is that by using a combination of heat, vacuum and liquid absorbing pellets it can dry out and remove the remaining liquid leftover in the device.

 

It's even gained popularity from shows such as "Shark Tank"

 

Investors have put lots and lots of money into trying to push this water damage repairing machine in retail outlets and have rolled it out into over 600 stores nationwide at select Staples.

 

So with all the popularity and "success" with retail outlets one must ask does it really work?

 

Why is tekdry a scam?

 

Truth be told the machine itself is not a "scam" in the traditional sense, matter of fact in the machine fails to save your device or restore full functionality then typically they will charge you little to nothing.

Reading the points made by the company, they make some bold claims:

  • "PROTECTS THE SURFACE

The water removal process causes no cosmetic damage whatsoever"

  • "PRESERVES DATA 

If the process is successful, your data will be exactly as it was"

  • "USES SAFE MATERIALS

You can feel good knowing the process does not use chemicals"

  • "KEEPS IT IN ONE PLACE

We will not have to take your device apart to save it"

 

While some of the claims are true, they are preying on the uneducated customers and overselling the machines capabilites. It's important to understand more about eletronics and what happends when they come in contact with liquid. 

 

Let's start out by showing a typical liquid damaged motherboard 

iphone 6 liquid damage

 

As you can see lots of coroison has formed around the connectors, specificlly the digitizer and rear camera fpc conn. (flexiable printed circuit).

This is typically what we see at wires computing when we are sent a device for liquid damage repair. The corrosion forms around high voltage areas such as the VCC_main power rail and the backlight rail which can run at 4 volts during a screen on event. This often results in burned pads the components are soldered to, which will cut off any connection to the circuit. 

When we take in a device in a state such as this we will take pictures for reference and then match them up with schematics to check for burned pads and "dead circuits." This is critical for ensuring proper thorough repairs. We also note areas that are affected more than others so we can spend more time with the smd componets later. 

 

What does tekdry do about corrosion? The short answer is nothing.

-Imagine going for a run, getting dirty and taking a shower with your clothes, shoes and hat on. Will you be cleaning yourself properly in all the important areas? No.

-Imagine driving your car through a mud pit and then going to the car wash, only for them to tell you that all they do is lightly blow air at it and throw a few towels on it to absorb some moisture. Would this be a proper thorough cleaning? No.

This is what tekdry does. They receive a device that's been wet, without disassembling it throw it into the machine, blow some air at it and expect it to be fixed in a matter of minutes. 

 

What most don't understand about electronics and liquid is that the damage isn't caused by water, It's caused by the leftover [mineral] contaminants in the water and shorting out circuits and burning solder pads that are necessary for connection. 

As part of our cleaning process we will disassemble the whole device to gain access to the motherboard (the brain) then we will use our ultrasonic machine to clean the motherboard and remove the residual corrosion. This process involves getting the motherboard wet again(!) Most would think this is foolish, but the secret is in the liquid we use, which has almost no contaminants and does not allow electrolysis to occur. 

Cleaning the motherboard is only half the battle. Replacement and rebuilding of the circuits is typically needed for a device to function. Capacitors on the VCC_main power rail can be the first to short out and cause the phone not to boot. As a capacitor has one leg on ground and another on the the circuit, if a capacitor gets corroded and shorts out then effectively a whole circuit can be shorted to ground causing vital circuits to not connect. This can be as minimal as a camera LDO (A low-dropout regulator) or as important as a PP1V8 line sending power to the NAND or CPU.

In most cases we need to remove components to replace or repeal them. Luckily not every capacitor is needed on the VCC_main power rail given that they function to filter the noise and are not esstential. But in the event a capacitor is shorted on a circuit such as the camera ldo then you would never gain access to either of the cameras without micro-soldering and removing them. 

TEKDRY (or Staples) does not remove any components, nor do they have the ability to micro solder anything and replace surface mounted parts on a motherboard. So how could they expect a postive outcome from this external "blow dry?" Truth is it would have [partially] worked and the machine simply sped that process up. 

Without removing the power [battery] the phone is still getting power through the circuits even when its turned off, only exacerbating the corrosion, shortening the lifespan of the device.

The fact is if your device has gotten wet, then you need to get it inspected under a microsope so that proper repairs can be performed.

Not every device is fixable, this is highly dependant on the localization of the damage and the steps the user has done to mitigate any further damage. 75% of the time a device is fixable, but most do not realize this and simply throw it away or store it in a drawer for years, while the coroson sets in even more and then lessening the chances of a sucessful revival. 

If you have gotten your device wet and would like a repair please use the link below:

Water Damage Repair Services

Sunday
Aug202017

iPhone won't charge after using a mini fan

 It's summer and its hot! As most of us find ways to beat the heat and cool down, this often lands us to searches on the internet. One ponders It's 2017, there must be a way to use my iPhone to cool myself down!?

 

Some have stumbled upon a portable mini lightning fan for iPhone as shown below

 

iPhone mini fan

  • For most Apple iPhone users alike this fan that plugs into the bottom of your phone and cools you down almost anywhere might seem like a great idea, but it has a hidden problem. 

These small portable mini lightning port fans cause charging problems on the iPhones.

 

 

Take a look at some of the comments made from users of the product:

 

"My sister bought this mini fan $ 1 that plugs into the port of loading of your iPhone and the fan uses the iPhone's battery to do the fan moving.  Today I plugged my iPhone with the fan and the fan started spinning and then all of a sudden it just stopped, my sister was in the room and said "Oh that happened when I used it and now my phone won't load" so I went and tried to plug it into a wall charger and it would not load the only way that load right now is in having plugged into the computer. "

 

"bought 2 of these and both of them caused both of my phones to stop charging. The fan didn't work and as soon as I plugged my charger up it wouldn't charge."

 

"Fan no longer works with iOS10 release. It causes the phone to become completely unresponsive until you unplug it. I've also had it 'restart' my iPhone 6S Plus on occasion as well.

(+): It's a conversation piece, no noticeable battery drain, somewhat works for the price

(-): Doesn't work with most phone cases (similar to aftermarket Lightning cables), lower half of the phone is unusable because the blades cover it, fan speed varies, probably due to a poor connection and/or unbalanced blades.

Overall, for cost, you can't expect much. It works, just not well. I don't see how anyone could find this practical. I thought I'd use this on our trip to Disneyworld, but it was not worth the hassle."

 

 

As we've found out from our recent post about iPhones charging and the Tristar charging ic chip that can go bad.

 

When the fan is plugged into the lightning port it will typically spin for about 30 seconds to 1 min. Once the fan stops spinning the user will usually remove the fan by unplugging it then re-inserting it  back into the device.

What the user is not aware of is that throughout the process of the fan drawing current from the battery, it also provides a feedback loop into the charging circuit causing the tristar charging ic to get ruined.

iPhone Tristar IC

As most users might worry the phone needs to be plugged into itunes to fix the phone, this unfortunately will do no good. Once the charging ic has been damaged you may expierence issues such as:

  • Not charging
  • "Fake Charging"
  • Not turning on
  • Boot-Looping
  • iTunes not recognizing iPhone

 

Fortunately for all of our customers the phone is not ruined! It simply needs a new tristar charging ic chip installed which involves micro soldering.

 

 

All iPhones have a charging ic known as the tristar which means all phones will be affected by this problem. But luckily this means the repair process is the same for each model, even if you have an iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S or even iPhone 7.

 

 We are able to perform these repairs within 2-3 business days. Nothing on the phone will be deleted and it will function normally after the repair. We would however check to make sure this is the problem before performing the repair.

 

Burlington, Vermont U2 Tristar Repair Service

Give us a call today!

(802)448-0403

 

To get your device repaired simply create a ticket on our site and mail it into us for repair via our page.

 

iPhone Tristar IC Mail-in Repair Service.

Saturday
Jul292017

Secrets Your Mobile Phone Insurance Company Doesn't Want You To Know

Asurion is a company that works with three of the big United States carriers: Verizon, AT&T and Sprint as their officially endorsed subscriber phone insurance provider. Asurion covers loss, theft, accidental damage, and malfunction—the major things that people typically file claims for. Once the insurance claim is approved you'll be told if Asurion is electing to repair or replace the device— and you don’t get to have any say. If it's the latter, they'll ship it out to you overnight. A phone charger, battery, and a SIM card will be included. It may be new, or it may be refurbished. They do not feel obligated to openly inform you as to which you are receiving, but if it’s a refurbished phone it should have “Refurbished by Asurion” on the back of the phone.

Right from the start it’s easy to see how mobile phone insurance is a scam. The people that work in the carrier stores don’t know the details about how Asurion works as an insurance company, and are primarily motivated by the commission that they receive to by adding subscribers. They aren’t really sure whether or not the insurance is worth it but they know that they gain financially by telling you that it’s a must-have. 

The promise of phone insurance and the reality of it are vastly different. Most people seem to think that if they “break” their phone the insurance is there to replace it with a brand new one. For some, a “broken phone” is really just a shattered screen that could have been replaced at a repair shop for about $100, but instead they send it off to Asurion and have their phone (that had a perfectly functional motherboard and had never seen a drop of water) replaced with a “Refurbished by Asurion” phone whose mobo was shoddily repaired after liquid damage by a half-rate technician contracted by the company to mass repair boards collected from other phones sent to the company from customers that don’t really seem to understand what their phone is worth.

To make a point, a customer could bring a phone into Wires Computing and have us put their motherboard into a different frame that’s in decent shape, with a new charging port, battery and LCD, and they would likely be charged less than $200 depending on the model of iPhone. Alternatively, a person could send out their phone that merely has a cracked LCD and be charged between $150 to $200 depending on the deductible to replace it with a refurbished phone containing an older, previously repaired motherboard. The motherboard in the original phone was flawless, and should have been the part of the phone most valued— and now it is the property of Asurion.

These “insurance phones” are reassembled with replacement copy parts by glorified assembly-line workers. We have seen Asurion phones come into the shop that are taped together behind the LCD, with screws left out or loose in the phone. Unlike the repair shop setting, these people don’t know the customers that are receiving the phones and so they are much less invested in doing a good and thorough job. The longevity of these phones is greatly compromised— and to make matters more difficult, any boards that have been soldered during the refurbishment process no longer have the original clues of corrosion, making it much more difficult for even a highly experienced micro-soldering repair technician to return a compromised motherboard to full function. 

 

Most replacement phones have less than new parts in them that fail pre-maturely and are simply not the same quality of parts a local tehcnician would use. We often see our customers come into the shop with something broken on the asurion replacement phone and after opening it find many issues. Some even being 2-3 year old batteries that have half the life that the original phone had. Adding all the problems up with the phones that are replaced make it surely a crap shoot as to how long they will last. This is often the first time the customer is aware of this, making them wish they had just gotten the phone fixed properly at our local repair shop instead of dealing with a mess of a phone from a big cororation that cares ultimatly only about the bottom line instead of quality phones and parts.

 

To summarize the main points of this article, phone insurance isn’t what you think it is, and rarely is it worth it. Not only do repair shops pay more attention to each individual phone and customer that come through the door, but they have well-trained staff that do a better job in the first place, with the intention of maintaining the phone’s longevity. 

Saturday
Jul292017

“Your iPhone Battery May Need to be Serviced”

This notice might appear on any iPhone running iOS 10.2.1 or later in Settings > Battery. As Apple Support wrote, “this isn’t a safety issue, it’s just to let you know that your battery may need to be replaced. You can continue to use your iPhone until you have your battery checked.”

If this notice has appeared on your phone, it simply means that iOS diagnostics have detected that the battery in your phone may need to be replaced as it is starting to lose capacity. When a battery gets closer to the end of its lifespan, the amount of charge and the ability to provide power reduces. As a result, a battery may need to be charged more and more frequently, and your iPhone might experience unexpected shutdowns. There are various factors that can affect the performance and lifespan of your device’s battery, including number of charge cycles, age of your battery, and exposure to extreme heat or cold.

For more optimal battery life, one might want to replace their battery yearly, especially people living in colder climates. It's one of the cheaper services that are offered and can help to maintain proper phone function as well as prevent some of the damage that can be caused by a battery going bad (i.e. bloating up and cracking your LCD).

Technicians at Wires Computing replace batteries (and charging ports) daily, and would be more than happy to assist you in servicing your phone. No appointment needed— feel free to just drop in during our regular business hours.