Last month Apple announced the iPhone 7 and changes to their AppleCare+ program. Now the iPhone 5 and later, if covered under AppleCare+, are only $29 for a screen repair. This is much lower than any third-party repair shop can offer since new displays are expensive and can cost as much as $500. It appears that Apple is attempting to do away with third-party repair shops. This, however, does not affect the industry as much as it seems. Third-party repair shops will continue to exist as long as the iPhone is repairable.
Third-party repair shops exist all over the world in places where there are Apple Stores and where there are not. They are, simply put, are any repair shop that is not authorized by Apple to do repairs on their devices. The parts they use can range from copies to OEM-grade to original displays and they offer anywhere from no warranty to a lifetime warranty. The part cost of repair shops vary based on the model, part, quality, included components, and sometimes even the color. For example, an OEM-grade iPhone 6 screen with LCD and touchscreen is about $80. Compared to a similar, but copy, iPhone 6 screen that is $30 and iPhone 6 glass only (no touchscreen or LCD) for $10. Due to these prices, a repair shop could not charge the low price of $29 for a screen repair unless they wanted to lose money or make little profit. The iPhone 6 repair price is around $80 to $140 in the market.
Just a note, there are a few different display qualities but I will focus on the three main types: original, OEM-grade, and copy. Original displays are just that, original, and come from Apple. OEM-grade screens have at least one component on them (LCD, touchscreen, glass) that is same quality a component used by Apple’s manufacturers. Copy parts are entire screens made by a third-party with no help from Apple. In reference to America’s favorite cookie, the Oreo, here are how the display qualities look. Original displays are Oreos; they are made by Nabisco, have all the ingredients of the Oreo in the right amounts, and come in Double Stuf too. OEM-grade displays are like generic black wafers with original Oreo filling or original Oreo cookies with a generic filling. One of the main components of the cookie come from Nabisco (or one of their manfucturers.) Copy screens are generic black and white cookies. They look the same minus the Oreo logo, but taste very different. Plus they come with ‘twice the filling’ versus Oreo’s Double Stuf.
Apple’s $29 iPhone screen repair deal has a flaws which allow third-party repair shops to still be in business. First, this price is only for phones covered under AppleCare+. Phone that are out-of-warranty start at $129 for screen repairs and $269 if there is any other damage (depending on the model). The price is also for the screen repair only. If there is any other damage (i.e. bent frame or broken Home button), Apple will charge its normal price of $99. This is in addition to the $99 customers pay to enroll their device in AppleCare+. Secondly, the program only lasts for two years and it is limited to two repairs. After two years or two repairs, customers will pay the full out-of-warranty cost for their iPhone repair. There is also an additional shipping charge of $6.95 for phones out of warranty. Third-party repair shops now seem a little more appetizing for phones out of warranty or with more than just screen damage. Thirdly, customers will either need to set up an appointment with their local Apple Store and send in their iPhone to Apple to be repaired. If there is not a local Apple Store, if the store is incredibly busy, or if it does not have a technician on site, there is extra time spent for a phone to be repaired for only $29. Shipping takes three to five business days as well and customers must wait for Apple to ship them a box. This is more time wasted, rather than paying a third-party repair shop to fix the iPhone in less than an hour.
Apple also notates on their website that some phones may require additional testing before a price can be given. This means a screen repair may be advertised for $29, but Apple may come back and tell their customer the price will actually be $99 or more. Their advertised price is not always the price that customers pay. Apple will also not repair any damage to the device that does not affect the functionality. For example, if the rear casing has a dent in it, Apple will keep the dent in the phone. Third-party repair shops, however, have the tools to fix rear casings and can actually replace them too. Not to mention, they can customize the iPhone to be un-Apple-like with a black screen on a gold iPhone and fix logic board damage by soldering on new components. Additionally, AppleCare+ must also be purchased with the new phone or within sixty days of purchase. Phones cannot be enrolled if they are already damaged or it is noted they have a pre-existing condition not covered under the program. Apple requires proof of purchase and either a remote diagnostic or an inspection before enrolling customers.
What is all comes down to is the perfect conditions in order to get the advertised price of $29 for the screen repair and a good day or so to spend at Apple. The iPhone must be enrolled in AppleCare+, have cracked glass with no other damage, and this has to be within the two year mark and either the first or second repair. Any repair other than this is the reason why third-party repair shops still exist. They can repair more than Apple is willing to at the store level in much faster time and some technicians even travel to customers to do onsite repairs. Plus the cost of parts changes frequently so a iPhone 6 screen repair may cost $100 one month and $80 the next. Yet with Apple, customers will still pay the $29/$99 price since their prices do not change. So as long as the iPhone is repairable, third-party repair shops will still exist because they can go further than Apple is willing to go and offer more of a convenience.