With a black and white signboard that reads ‘iFix Mobiles’ and colourful phone cases as the backdrop, Vishal Bhadesiya (23) sits at his mobile repairing stall between 11 am and 9:30 pm in Powai. Describing himself as a “phone doctor”, Bhadesiya says he learnt his craft on the job.
Bhadesiya’s clientele consists of people aged between 18 and 30. His clients also include iPhone owners and Bhadesiya explains why they consult him rather than going to the official service centres. “The stores replace the phone, which is very expensive. I don’t believe in that. I repair four to five phones a day. Why not fix it for less money? People come to us because of the reasonable prices we offer. Only when the damage is too complicated, I ask them to replace it,” he says.
Opening his well-organised box of spare parts, he says it is easy to understand the internal workings of a phone if interest is paired with experience. “A doctor is experienced in noticing the same symptoms everyday so he is able to identify the illness easily. I work in the same manner. It’s like being a phone doctor. I find this enjoyable because everyday, people come with different concerns. There is something new to learn on the job itself,” he said.
Making Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 a month, he fixes phones usually within a couple of hours. On an average, a customer pays Rs 300-Rs 400 for his services. Having repaired several broken screens and damaged motherboards in the past four years, Bhadesiya says he learnt the ropes from his older brother. “My brother learnt it from my uncle who used to repair watches and televisions. After college, I would sit with my brother and watch him fix mobile screens. Most of my learning comes from observation and experience,” he says. “I chose commerce for my undergraduate studies but during that time, my interests deviated towards fixing phones because I watched my brother do it. Moreover, he had a business of his own which I could be a part of.”
Describing the learning process, he says, “The first thing you learn is to open a phone – that itself requires technique because they can be very delicate. Then I was taught to identify various parts within the circuit. It took me over a year to learn all of it.”
The “phone doctor” says 80 per cent of the cases he receives are of screens damaged by a fall. “People drop their mobile phones recklessly, even in water. Most of the repairs I have done are screen-related. Otherwise, it is the camera, speakers or battery that usually require fixing,” he adds.
Saying he was satisfied with the job, he adds, “Customers come to me in a state of panic and are especially worried about their personal data: photos, videos, notes, etc. It is very fulfilling when a customer expresses relief over what he or she thought was impossible to retrieve.” Bhadesiya believes it is a booming business with great scope but there is a flipside. “There is growing competition. Earlier, it was a monopolised business but now you will find repairers on almost every street,” he says.