How about a USB mini connector that unscrewed from the side of the phone so it can be replaced.
Other than a dropped phone breakage, this is the first thing to fail (minus the battery).
This sees constant abuse with 100's to 1000's of plug/unplug cycles.
If I had gone with AppleCare, that would've covered touchscreen replacement. I guess when I bought a different insurance policy, I was concerned more about loss or theft rather than damage -- and this policy only covers full replacement.
Like any other insurance, this policy will only be worth the money if someday I actually need it. If my iPhone is lost or stolen within the 2 year contract period, I will have to pay the deductible and wait for a new phone in the mail, but the policy will have been worth the money.
On the 4s, it's not just glass but a full LCD touchscreen replacement, which was $125 parts & labor. I found DIY kits online for around $80 but didn't want to mess with that -- I wanted it fixed quickly, by someone who had experience.
Re: "I clearly wasted my money on insurance for this one, since I would rather not wait for snail mail delivery of a replacement."
I wonder if you could contact your cell phone insurance company, explain the situation and maybe get reimbursed or at least a partial reimbursement...
It might be worth the call.
I am surprised to see that the cell phone repair grew 11% this year in US. The culture has largely been to throw away the broken ones and get a new unit. But I agree with @Frank Eory above, fixing beats new iPhones by big margins, not to mention the educational value of doing so.
I think that as cell phones become even more sophisticated and more integral to our daily personal & business lives, the repair business will continue to grow.
I had my shiny new iPhone 4s for barely a month when I dropped it, glass side down, on an irregular surface and it suffered a thousand cracks -- but still worked! I immediately jumped on Safari, did a search for "iPhone 4s repair Tempe Arizona" and found a repair shop nearby (yes, I could still read the screen through the cracks). 15 minutes later I was handing my phone to a young guy who said it would take him about 30 minutes to replace the LCD touchscreen assembly.
I went for a bite to eat, came back and paid him, and my phone was good as new -- less than an hour after I shattered the screen.
To your question about repairing vs. jumping to a new phone, well in my case this WAS the new phone. I actually have insurance on it, but that requires paying a deductible and waiting for a new one to arrive by snail mail. To me it was worth a few extra bucks to pay for the repair and have my phone back in perfect condition right away.
Looking toward the near future, if I break it again after the iPhone 5 comes out, will I pay for another repair or shell out the full retail price for an unsubsidized iPhone 5? That's a no-brainer. The repair is fairly cheap and the full retail price of a new iPhone? Not so cheap.
The better question is what will the proliferation of cell phone repair shops do to the cell phone insurance business. I clearly wasted my money on insurance for this one, since I would rather not wait for snail mail delivery of a replacement. If I break it again, I'll just go enjoy another burger & beer on Mill Avenue in Tempe while that college kid fixes my phone again :)
I was impressed to see one of our techs fixing a broken iPhone switch using parts bought from Ebay. A complete subassembly, flexi PCB and all, swapped in. So I can see how little shops can get involved.
It was the boss' phone, of course!