When something goes wrong with one of your gadgets, you are faced with a choice: fix it yourself or call in professional help. Since your options for these routes are always changing (both Apple and Samsung have launched self-repair kits in recent years), we wanted to give you an up-to-date rundown of what to consider when repairing your equipment and some of the resources that are out there.
Your first thoughts will likely revolve around how much money you’ll be spending on a repair and how long you’ll have to wait before your device is up and running again — but beyond that, there’s a lot more to weigh up to determine whether you’ll take on that repair job or someone else’s commission it.
There’s a third option here, which is to give up the broken device and get a new one – but before you do that, we recommend you do the checks mentioned below. Consider the age of the device, recycling options, and how much you can spend on something new before abandoning the hardware that needs repairing and replacing.
Appreciate the work
In your assessment of whether your gadget repair should be a do-it-yourself job or outsourced to professionals, the scope and complexity of the task at hand is paramount. From a shattered laptop screen to a phone that won’t charge, from a console that won’t turn on to a faulty smart speaker, device repairs can vary greatly in how difficult they are, how long they take they last and how long they will last how much they might cost.
What you should be aware of is that the level of difficulty is not necessarily what you imagine. When you’re dealing with a piece of hardware that you’re not particularly knowledgeable about, a job that you think is easy can actually be quite difficult, or vice versa. The same applies to the effort involved: Don’t make any assumptions. A quick web search should give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with.
Online guides, forum posts, or Reddit threads that discuss your issue are a good place to start—and even better if they describe the steps needed to perform the repair. If you can’t find anything about your issue online, you’re most likely dealing with something more obscure that will take longer to resolve and may cost you more.
Ultimately, you need to estimate how long a repair will take and what budget you need. If you’re not sure what the exact problem is, consider the delays that may occur in figuring it out. You must also consider the time it takes to source and purchase necessary replacement parts and the current selling price of those parts.
Assess your skills
Once you know a little more about what you’re dealing with, you can find out if this is actually something you can fix yourself. Some of us are better at tinkering with electronics than others, and some of us are more patient with small tools and delicate materials than others. Of course, if you have experience repairing equipment, that will make you more confident doing the job yourself — considering there’s always a risk of making the problem worse.
Your favorite search engine and YouTube are your friends when it comes to determining what type of repair skills are likely involved. It doesn’t take much digging to see videos on how to replace a Galaxy S22 screen, how to replace a PlayStation 5 power adapter, or how to replace a key on a MacBook Pro keyboard. They usually also come with a list of the tools required and the costs associated with them, giving you a much better idea of whether or not this is a project for you. The completeness of the instructions you can find might also convince you in one way or another that you should try a self-repair.
The smaller your device, the more difficult it is likely to be to repair. iFixit’s self-repair experts provide very helpful repairability scores for a whole range of devices, including phones, tablets, and laptops – all useful information for your calculations. For some repairs, you’ll see lists of tools you’ll need and how long a repair should take, which should give you a better idea of whether or not you want to try it yourself.
Keep in mind that not all problems are hardware problems — while a software reset won’t fix a cracked screen or a failing hard drive, you might be surprised at the problems it can fix. If you’re dealing with glitches that might be related to the software, make sure you have a backup of everything and then perform a full factory reset on your misbehaving device. Full instructions will be available online: for Chromebooks, iPhones, Xboxes and TVs, for example.
Evaluate the options
After assessing how likely you are to undertake repair tasks, you need to know how the alternative option compares – how much time a professional repair will take and what the price will be. Check if your device is still under warranty and if so, whether it covers the issue or not. You may be able to solve the problem quickly and for free, but if not, you need to consider other options.
As mentioned at the beginning, some manufacturers now offer self-repair kits. Apple sends you the tools and instructions you need for certain device repairs, for example. See what support options are available directly from the company that made your gadget and what the terms and conditions are. If you’ve signed up for insurance and supplemental coverage plans, that matters too: Samsung Care Plus, for example, offers unlimited repairs and starts at $8 a month.
Official repair is an option if you are covered by warranty or insurance. Image: Samsung
If you’re not covered by a warranty or protection plan, you can learn about national and local repair options – Best Buy, for example, will repair your phone for you, with jobs listed on their website for pricing (an iPhone 14 Pro Max camera) . Repair will cost you $219). Don’t just look at a quote for the job, check details such as:
Always get a quote upfront before committing, both on cost and turnaround time – you can then weigh up exactly whether it’s worth saving some money and trying to find a solution yourself, or it to put into someone else’s hands. It’s not just about the money though: making your own repairs can be educational and even fun if you want to learn more about your hardware and how it’s put together.
Just don’t be the person who pays the Geek Squad $40 to put your new RAM in your PC for you.