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Apple's Tight Control Over Components Keeping iPhone 5 Repair Costs High

iphone_5_display_assembly_whiteMarketWatch takes a look at the state of the repair industry for the iPhone 5, noting that costs for display replacements remain very high eight months after the device's launch in the United States. The report points to Apple's tight control over components as being the major contributor to high costs, even as the device's new design makes it simpler to replace the display than on previous models.
There is a tight control on iPhone 5 components in the market, [repair firm iCracked founder AJ] Forsythe says. “Market forces determine the price,” he says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”

“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. As the iPhone 5 is larger than the 4, the cost for replacement parts rises, he says.
The display is the most frequently cited repair item on the iPhone, given the frequency with which users break the glass front of the device, and it is also the most costly component.

For the iPhone 4S, repair firm iFixit currently sells the display assembly for $95, with users needing to follow a difficult 37-step guide to perform the repair. On the iPhone 5, iFixit is charging $200 for the corresponding part, with the white version not even available at this time. But for those who can get their hands on the part, the replacement process requires only a 23-step guide judged "moderate" in difficulty.

The report notes that many repair firms have even not yet begun offering iPhone 5 display replacements, due to both the shortage of parts in the market and the high costs. Apple itself frequently performs repairs by swapping out the user's device, then putting the damaged device through a refurbishment process and reselling it at a discounted price.

Recognizing the prevalence of accidental damage issues with its mobile devices, Apple rolled out an AppleCare+ extended warranty plan alongside the iPhone 4S in October 2011. The $99 plan extends warranty coverage to two years and includes coverage for up to two incidents of accidental damage with $49 deductibles. The plan is not, however, universally available throughout Apple's global sales footprint yet.

Apple is said to be planning to revamp its AppleCare offerings later this year, with Apple reportedly moving to perform more repairs on iPhones rather than simply swapping them out. The company is also said to be transitioning AppleCare into a subscription agreement that would cover multiple devices owned by a customer, rather than having to purchase coverage separately for each device.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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16 months ago

Is there any reason why Apple still clings to the "non-removable" battery concept while nearly every other phone allows user access to the battery?


What year are you in? :-P

Lately Samsung has pretty much been the only manufacturer to let you access the battery, other phone makers are moving away from it.
Rating: 10 Votes
16 months ago
AppleCare + accidental damage cover = I don't care if it costs a lot to repair
Rating: 5 Votes
16 months ago
Why would you pay $200 to ifixit when you could just pay $229 to Apple?

And it's and off-warranty fix so it doesn't matter if you have a warranty or not.

Ifixit seems incredibly overpriced, I think it was last year I noticed they were charging $39 for a 4S back when Apple only charged $29.
Rating: 5 Votes
16 months ago
ifixit is a horrible example. They sell the same non-oem part from china that you find on ebay. 95 bucks for the same 27-30 dollar part on ebay.

I love their guides but have only ever bought one thing from there (and I realize I overpaid).
Rating: 3 Votes
15 months ago

What year are you in? :-P

Lately Samsung has pretty much been the only manufacturer to let you access the battery, other phone makers are moving away from it.

Rumor has it, the removable battery is so easy & fast to change, ex-iPhone users go into a state of shock. Followed by sheer bliss. ::D
Rating: 3 Votes
16 months ago

Can't think of any, but I don't really see a big need to remove the battery anyways. Even if a few batteries fail or need to be replaced, I don't think it's enough to justify making it removable.

I might be wrong but why would you want a removable battery?


Prolonging the life of the phone? Being able to give it to your kid when you upgrade? Not having to be forced to buy a new phone because the battery is dying?
Rating: 2 Votes
16 months ago

AppleCare + accidental damage cover = I don't care if it costs a lot to repair


And you probably think that you are the smart one. You are doing exactly what Apple wants you to do. I am pretty sure that they make sure that component prices stay high thus forcing people to buy two insurance policies for a single device. Woul'd not it be better if you did not need to buy this CrappleCare and instead was covered for one year with regular warranty and occasionally payed, say, $50 for replacing a broken screen? That's what people who buy normal phones do.
Rating: 2 Votes
16 months ago

I think that's a large part of why Apple is doing this. They would rather be in control of repairs.


The price isn't the only factor in that desire. The whole terms and conditions and flagging that the phone was ever messed with is about keeping repairs under their control since folks look to them to warranty the devices. They won't and don't have to warranty something that isn't all Apple parts. Especially when the installation of said part means screwing around with the whole phone.

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Is there any reason why Apple still clings to the "non-removable" battery concept while nearly every other phone allows user access to the battery?


To give you a bigger battery. If they don't have to allow you to remove the battery then they don't have to include a mechanism for it to pop out nor do they have to include a hard shell that adds bulk so you don't pierce the soft cell and cause a thermal event that could be hazardous if not deadly. Lithium batteries can explode if the lithium mixes with a large amount of oxygen. At least smoke and fume with a smaller amount. By restricting removal to trained techs in a safety room, they can use that same space to give you more battery

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When will we have iOS Hackinphones?


If you know what you are doing you could likely make one now
Rating: 2 Votes
16 months ago

Is there any reason why Apple still clings to the "non-removable" battery concept while nearly every other phone allows user access to the battery?


Can't think of any, but I don't really see a big need to remove the battery anyways. Even if a few batteries fail or need to be replaced, I don't think it's enough to justify making it removable.

I might be wrong but why would you want a removable battery?
Rating: 2 Votes
16 months ago

Then don't drop it. Sounds silly, but it is all it takes - not to drop. Just like any other expensive and fragile device (a watch, mp3 player, hard drive and so on) some of those devices aren't even repairable.

I dropped my 4S once and i was lucky it firts landed on my sports bag and then slided on tile floor. No harm done, but if there was i'd only blame myself.


"Then don't drop it"

"it is all it takes - not to drop"

"I dropped my 4S once"

:o

These things happen by accident, and accidents happen. What you said is as useful as telling someone to not crash their car.
Rating: 2 Votes

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