If it all sounds like an Onion cartoon, well, it is. (Actually it's an Onion video, this being 2013.)
"The iPhone 5C, the best new iPhone since you broke your last iPhone. It's the phone you love, just broken," says the spoof which includes a British-accented female news anchor reporting that Apple has introduced the first iPhone "specifically for college-aged girls which comes with an already broken screen." (A glitter-nail-polished hand holds an iPhone with a cracked screen.)
Lofton and Lasky, both Howard University graduates in psychology, said they see cracked screens as a "form of self-expression."
They whip out their phones and dial up websites selling the latest "cracked screen wallpaper" and "pre-cracked screen savers."
These are not as cool as a real cracked phone, they say. But they are funny and are used to punk parents.
"I mean, they're going to crack it at some point, so why not just get it out of the way?" one slogan reads.
A variation of the cracked front screen is the busted-up back cover. A broken back panel can be tricked out by coloring in the cracks. Done with care, it's made to look like a rainbow of stained glass.
"You just a need a red and blue Sharpie and and maybe a yellow highlighter. Then, you color in the glass, and it looks really cool," said Julian Shadding, 17, from Hyattsville, Md., who dropped his iPhone while walking his dog.
"But enjoy that cut on your finger," said Trevor Lyman, 27, co-owner of CrackedMacScreen Repair Team in Northwest Washington, which offers rates that are significantly less than Apple's $150 to $260 for such fixes.
He says that cracked cellphones have become popular partly because they are so expensive to repair.