BUSINESS

When their phone breaks, UM students find another one and call this iPhone repairman

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Myles Hartsfield
Oxford Stories
mdhartsf@go.olemiss.edu

There will always be arguments about which cell phone style is better. Do you identify as Team iPhone or Team Android?

While discussions continue about software styles, data usage, and application pixilation, few people argue about the size, color, or shape of each device. In any given city, you will find a cellular repair shop just waiting to charge a pricey fee to fix either device.

Focusing primarily on Team iPhone, imagine the revenue that has gone into screen repairs and cosmetic changes. High school and college students looking for a change unavailable in android devices are targeted.

Taogat Brown, a University of Mississippi college student, is skilled in programming and technical support for Apple products. Brown is studying economics with a minor in entrepreneurship, planning to one day start a business. Brown assists college students with cosmetic upgrades and repairs damaged iPhones.

At age 12, Brown got his first iPod. One snowy afternoon in Alaska, Mother Nature damaged the device’s battery port. Brown would not settle for a broken iPod, but the nearest city was 700 miles away. Apple products were still new, so there might not have been an Apple repair shop in the city.

“I had just put a lot of effort into getting this iPod,” Brown said, as his wheels began to spin. “I have got to figure this out.”

After further diagnosing the iPod, he accessed that the damage was minimal, and he could still use the device, but only while it was on the charger. Removing the charger would cause the device to immediately die.

After researching the device’s make and model, Brown continued to research Apple products. Several YouTube videos later, Brown knew why Apple engineers designed each device the way they did and how they reached each product layout.

After disassembling his own Apple product, he recognized an issue with his battery and realized it should be changed. This independent replacement kick-started Brown’s technical support capabilities.

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Brown continued fixing iPods and learned to build and rebuild the iPhone 4. His greatest challenge with Apple products is the design of the iPhone 4 and 4s.  “A year after my discovery of the iPod, I had to completely disassemble the phone,” he said.

The screen, motherboard, camera, battery and all screws associated had to be removed just to get to the front screen for repair. “This was a very interesting time to learn the way of the land on an iPhone,” he said. “The iPhone 5 was way easier than the 4.”

As each model iPhone becomes available, Brown to challenges himself to learn the phone well enough to take it apart and reassemble it so he can continue repairing phones for college students.

Even though Brown feels Apple could make and use more recyclable products, he is overall pleased with the designs and improvements made over the years. While working on a water damage issue on an iPhone 6s, Brown discovered a way to change the design of the frame and Apple logo, because the two pieces of metal were different.

“So, what if I just put an Apple logo that lights up or something different here,” he said to himself, as his creativity escalated. Brown created a light that changes colors projected through the Apple logo of the iPhone 6s, and he can now do this for the iPhone 7 too.

Audra Hart, a University of Mississippi college student, recently visited Brown. While running with her dog through the park, she dropped her iPhone 7 face down on the concrete. Devastated, she immediately took her device to a local repair shop, where they were not accepting less than $100 for damage repair.

“One hundred dollars on a cracked screen is just not feasible when an upgrade could cost less than this,” said Hart, who knew the screen was not the primary cost, but the labor associated. “For $100, I would rather use YouTube and figure it out myself, somehow.”

As Hart left disappointed and highly irritated, she was still stuck with the same issue of a shattered screen. Complaining to her classmates, one told her about Taogat Brown.

“I was very pleased with prices, and even more impressed at his speed and quality when getting my phone back,” she said. “I was so impressed that I returned after my next paycheck to have him install the multicolored light system.”

Hart now shows her customization to friends.

IMG_3318Brown believes his prices are average and affordable. “We are all college kids, who have plenty to pay for as is,” he said. “Why make repairs and new designs cost so much?”

Brown said his profit is about 40 percent, and he feels this is fair and just for the skill and time he spends per device.

“I want to be cheap for the college kids, but fair to my own time, because I don’t have much of it,” he said.

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