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Where iPhones Go When They Die

Where do our personal, handheld devices go when they die? Some are tossed in the garbage and buried in landfills. Others are recycled. But some end up with a local shop owner who brings them back to life. KSMU’s Brandon Goodwin reports.

[Sound: prying, clicking.]

Using a Swiss Army knife, Dan Griffin carefully pries the front screen from a broken iPod Touch.

“The lady who brought this in said she was on her way to work and was used to not having anything in her cup holder. And this time she actually had something in there and it was an open cup of coffee. So she sat it right down in the cup of coffee,” he said.

[Sound: more clicking.]

Griffin runs Springfield iPhone Repair in downtown Springfield.

His desk looks like a morgue for iPhones. The once shiny, new gadgets lay mangled, side by side; each with a note about what killed it.

Jennifer’s display is cracked. So is April’s. Holly’s hard drive stopped working. In a normal week, he will fix a hundred devices, just like these.

And every shattered screen tells a story.

“That one actually got thrown. The gentleman and his girlfriend had broken ties, basically. She was driving off in his truck and so he threw his phone and it landed in the bed of his pickup. When she came back a week later, it was still sitting there,” he said.

He’s seen a phone dropped from a four-story parking garage. Another spent an hour at the bottom of a lake.

One of his clients brought in an iPad after rescuing it from a burning cabin, something Griffin doesn’t recommend.

“It caught fire in the middle of the night and so he got his family out and what not. After about ten, fifteen minutes he realized his iPad was in there, so he ran in to rescue it. The very next day he goes to step out of his truck and it slides to the middle seat, to his seat, to the ground, and cracks the screen,” he said.

Most repairs take less than an hour, but that’s still an hour more than most people want to be away from their phones.“It is interesting to watch people in the lobby reach for their phone when they don’t have their phone because I’m repairing it. In a ten minute period, usually people will reach for it three or four times,” he said.

Griffin says he can relate to his customers. He paid six hundred dollars for an iPhone when they first came out, almost four years ago. He dropped it the second week he had it.

“[I] ended up sending it off to Apple and paid close to $450 for them to repair the screen. When I got the device back, I dropped it two weeks later, again,” he said.

It was that second drop that gave him the idea for Springfield iPhone Repair.He’s been fixing iPhones, iPods, and now iPads, ever since.

For KSMU News, I’m Brandon Goodwin.