Anna, a watchmaker from Bavaria, now repairs phones at Swappie in Helsinki

Former watchmaker Anna Bierlein works with microsoldering at Swappie’s facilities in Helsinki. Her job is to refurbish iPhones that the company sells across Europe.

We don’t carry our phones around on a velvet cushion – instead, we take them with us to work, sports and trips in our pockets, at the bottom of a bag, or wherever. 

Life can sometimes knock us down, and it is the same for our phones. Technicians at Swappie, a company selling refurbished iPhones, repair faults resulting from the phones’ use. 

In cases where the phone’s motherboard is faulty, the faults cannot be fixed by simply replacing a part. Swappie’s very own microsoldering team repairs these faults.

“Our work is meticulous. If there is even the tiniest problem with the motherboard, the phone may not even turn on,” says Anna Bierlein, a technician specialising in microsoldering at Swappie.

Bierlein, who comes from Bavaria, Germany, knows what she’s talking about. She is a qualified watchmaker, thoroughly familiar with working on precise mechanics. 

“I just love microscopes. The reason I chose this career is that I have always worked with my hands,” says Bierlein.

Quality guaranteed by a 52-step inspection process

All phones sold by Swappie are factory refurbished and come with a 12-month warranty. When a used phone arrives at Swappie’s facilities, first of all it goes through a 52-step inspection process. A technician checks all of the phone’s functions one by one: does the touch screen work? Is the battery in excellent condition? Does the speaker crackle? How about the microphone? Are colours displayed correctly?  

If the motherboard is faulty, the phone will be repaired by the microsoldering team. Once Anna Bierlein and her colleagues have done their job, the phone heads for another 52-step inspection. 

“We always make sure the customer gets a phone that works, and give a 12-month warranty,” Bierlein says. 

Sometimes a factory refurbished Swappie phone can even be in better condition than a brand new one. 

This is the case with some iPhone 7 phones, for example, that have an inherent fault due to bending. The fault may affect the microphone, speaker or earphones.

“The cause is the motherboard, which bends. We reinforce the motherboard to make the phone work and it can be used without worries for years to come,” says Bierlein.

Why throw away a good thing?

The iPhone 7 is one of Swappie’s best-selling models. Until a few years ago, these phones could very well have ended up in a landfill. 

Recycling is the most effective way to reduce your smartphone’s environmental footprint, as the majority of the smartphone’s CO2 emissions are generated during manufacturing.

For Anna Bierlein, ecology is one of the reasons for working at Swappie. Her handprint helps reduce electronic waste.

“Every Swappie phone has been used before and no virgin natural resources are used on them. Repairing is important to me personally, in light of the prevailing culture of discarding things,” says Bierlein.


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