Report: Apple to accept damaged iPhones for upgrades, installing screen protectors in stores

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is preparing to launch a trade-in program for damaged iPhones and will soon offer to install screen protectors on its handsets in its retail stores, according to a report from 9to5Mac.

The company's current program gives credit for phones in good condition, but the new policy will enable employees to also accept phones with damaged screens, cameras or buttons, according to the report. Apple will give $50 in credit for a broken iPhone 5s, $200 for an iPhone 6, and $250 for a 6 Plus.

The policy, which is designed to encourage users to upgrade their phones rather than have them repaired by a third party, is scheduled to be implemented in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Apple has already begun offering to install screen protectors on iPhones in some of its retail stores, 9to5Mac reported. It is teaming with the manufacturer Belkin to enable staffers to use dedicated machines to install the protectors; the effort will continue to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

The Japanese site Mac Otakara reports that Belkin's TrueClear Pro machines are already being deployed in that market to install "a liquid crystal protection film" in Apple's stores, as AppleInsider noted. Apple charges roughly $20 to $37 for installation in those stores, according to reports.

An Apple representative didn't immediately respond to questions on the report.

The moves underscore Apple's strategy to increase customer stickiness at the retail level by expanding beyond one-off purchases into more service-oriented offerings. Last fall the company introduced the iPhone Upgrade Program, packaging its AppleCare+ warranty service with an offer to upgrade customers' phones every year.

The iPhone Upgrade Program poses a direct threat to carriers that have recently begun to embrace the equipment installment plan (EIP) model, giving customers an alternative to dealing directly with their service providers. Apple's upgrade program, and its rumored trade-in program, could help the company enhance its relationships with customers and as it rings up more sales at the retail counter.

Apple remains the largest smartphone maker in the United States, according to comScore, growing its share from 41.6 percent in December 2014 to 42.9 percent in December of 2015.

For more:
- see this report from 9to5Mac

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