Mobile phone insurance can be a nice way to prevent costly repairs and replacements from coming out of your own pocket, but it typically requires a monthly fee that adds up to a fair amount over time. In this article, we’ll show you how to keep your smartphones, tablets and accessories safe without paying a monthly fee through a number of helpful alternatives.
One of the most common ways in which phones are broken is damage to the screen. Whether through excessive scratching or outright shattering, a dead screen prevents you from using your phone and is typically quite difficult to fix by yourself. Thankfully, an entire industry exists for screen protecting products, from simple plastic screen protectors and more robust tempered glass options to cases and spray-on solutions.
Probably the easiest and cheapest option is to get a plastic screen protector. Nowadays it’s easy to find screen protectors that are already cut to fit your particular phone, taking into account buttons, front-facing cameras, ear-pieces and other irregularities. These are typically made of thin plastic, and are designed to prevent scratches from afflicting your device. Because these are quite inexpensive, it’s common to get multiple screen protectors in a pack, then replace them as they get damaged through normal use.
A more recent innovation is tempered glass screen protectors. These tend to be thicker and more expensive, but offer far greater protection against scratches. They also provide limited protection against impact damage, preventing your screen from shattering. These tend to be sold one-at-a-time, and therefore don’t typically need to be replaced for the life of your phone. Good options exist from BodyGuardz and Spigen, among others.
Cases are another obvious solution to screen shattering and scratching. Through a lip that runs around the front of the phone, any potential drop or impact is taken by the case first and spread around the phone, preventing a single point from taking enough force to break. Different case designs have varying effectiveness in preventing damage to the screen, but all well-designed cases should provide a significant upgrade over a bare phone. Some of the most effective cases for preventing screen damage are folio or flip cases, which include a cover that rests over the screen when the phone isn’t being used.
Our latest category is spray-on screen protection fluids, which add a layer of protection just nano-metres thick. This prevents damage from scratches and minor impacts, and also keeps your phone’s screen free of dirt, bacteria and fingerprints. Two good examples are Crystalusion and CleanSeal. If you really like the look and feel of a naked phone, then this is a fine option. You also can use this type of screen protection on all devices you own – you don’t need to get a different product for each device you want to protect.
A big potential hazard for anyone with an expensive smartphone or tablet is theft. What’s going to stop a nearby malcontent from snatching your phone from your hands, picking your pocket or just recovering it when you leave it in a coffee shop? Mobile phone insurance is one answer, but it’s not the only way. For example, you might think about using an anti-theft app. There are plenty of different apps available, but for now let’s have a look at Cerberus, an anti-theft app for Android.
Once the app is installed on your device, you can remotely track and control it by logging onto the Cerberus website or sending text messages to your phone. You can see the device’s location on a map (based on GPS, cell and wireless networks), get a list of recent phone numbers called or received, and get information about the mobile phone network it’s on. As well as passive intelligence gathering, you can also try to recover your phone more directly – by turning on an alarm, recording audio from the microphone, or taking pictures with the front or rear cameras. Cerberus is tricky too – it’ll hide incoming control texts, hide itself from the app drawer, and won’t be removed even if the phone’s memory is reset. If all else fails, you can wipe your device to keep your private data hidden.
With all these features, you have the best possible chance of finding your device – as we’ve seen in a dramatic play-by-play of a stolen phone’s recapture that attracted national attention. Cerberus is available as a free time-limited trial, and you can purchase a lifetime license for €3.
What about if you’re on a different platform though, like iOS or Windows Phone? Apple’s own Find My iPhone and Microsoft’s Find My Phone offer similar (if not quite as far-reaching) features that can be great in tracking down a lost or stolen phone.
Hands up if you remember this story or something like it: “My phone fell in the toilet.” What about getting sand or spray on your phone at the beach, leaving your phone in your pocket when you do laundry or just trying to use it in the rain? Pretty much everyone has experienced this before, or knows someone who has… so let’s see what we can do to stop it.
The most obvious answer is to pick up a waterproof case. There are some different options here at different price points – you can pick up a fairly simplistic case that makes sense for going boating and hanging out at the pool, but these aren’t great for constant use. Another niche option is the waterproof armband, which is great for running in the rain or using at the gym. If you’re after something that can be used constantly, then a case like the Griffin Catalyst, Otterbox Armor Series or Seidio Obex will work brilliantly. A nice benefit of these top-end cases is that they’ll protect against other forms of damage, like scratches and drops too.
A more extraordinary way of protecting your device from water is to give it a water-resistant nano-coating. Services like Techjacket will do the deed for you, taking your phone, coating it, then returning it to you.
The final option is perhaps the simplest – just choose a waterproof phone! The Sony Xperia Z, Z1 and Z Ultra all boast water resistance, for example. You could also try the Galaxy S4 Active, a water-resistant version of the popular Galaxy S4. If you don’t want to spend that much, then our Fonerange Rugged 128 and CAT B15 phones offer waterproofing (as well as a robust design) at a much lower price.
While mobile phone insurance can definitely make sense, it’s not the only option available to you. Whether used as alternative or additional protection, the suggestions we’ve outlined above bear thinking about. Thanks for checking out the article – and be sure to let us know if you have your own suggestions or want to ask us a question about keeping your phone or tablet safe!