Why Do Repairs Cost So Much?


Broken PhonesToday I am going to answer one of the most common questions I hear as a cell phone repair technician:

Why do repairs cost so much?

First, phones are more expensive than you think.  When you buy a phone from your service they either give you a discounted price with a service agreement or you pay for your phone with monthly installments on your bill. So while you may have paid $0 – $200 for your new smartphone, the average retail prices is $500 – $700.

Why so expensive? Well smartphones are basically pocket sized computers, with a GPS, digital camera, and telephone all in one device. The average GPS is $100 – $200 and the average digital camera with similar specifications to newer smartphone cameras is $100 – $300.

Once I explain this I usually get the following response:

But, I can find that part for only [insert number] dollars on Amazon.

Yes but is it a quality part? Can you do the repair yourself?

The repair cost is not just about the cost of the part, you are also paying for the time, labor, and skill of the repair technician. Plus, all parts are not created equal. A cheaper part uses cheaper materials and manufacturing processes. They break easier, do not last overtime, and do not perform as well as the original parts. You get what you pay for.

Here at Tech Armor for example, we use high quality OEM parts. OEM or original equipment manufacturer parts are made by the manufacturer that made the original parts for the phone. These parts are more reliable and usually backed by a warranty. At Tech Armor we offer a 90 day warranty on our parts and repairs. We stand by our products and our work. If you have ever had a repair done with us at Tech Armor you may notice us going through a few things on your phone. Before a repair we check for any additional issues and after we double check that everything is in working order.

Cell phones are full of many small, delicate parts. Disassembling and reassembling a phone may cause parts to become slightly unalined. And, no one is perfect and removing broken parts can be challenging. Removing broken glass or disassembly may cause tears in decicate ribbons. By checking a few basic functions before and after a repair we can determine if anything is out of place or damaged and resolve the issue. As you are probably starting to see, repairs take time, skill, and attention to detail. Anyone can watch a YouTube video and and replace a part but how many people can do so reliably and with lasting results.  What do you do if you lose a tiny screw? What if you misplace a part?  What if your hand or tool slips and you damage a part?  It is not always a easy as it seems.

Shattered iPhone 6Let’s break down the cost of a repair:

An iPhone 6 replacement LCD part currently ranges form around $130-$200 on Amazon. This part is the full front of your phone. The glass, digitizer, and LCD are fused together to create the screen. So whether your glass is cracked, touch screen is not functioning, or the display does not work, one part replacement fixes it all.

So if you see a replacement screen for $10 that just the glass. Removing this part and replacing it can be very difficult. The LCD is very thin and can easily be cracked and overheating when softening the glue to remove the glass may damage of discolor the LCD. Most often this type of repair is done with special machines that regulate heat and are calibrated precisely to separate the glass.

Next add in other costs like tax and shipping for the parts. Add rent and employee pay, because remember a repair store is a business with all the associated expenses.

So with the cheapest part and taking into account only the part and labor:

low cost part $130 + 5% sales tax $6.50 + average shipping $5.95 + average labor charge $50 = $192.45

This cost does not take into account the skill level of the technician or any guarantee on the labor or part.  Check out how complicated the repair can be on the iFixit website.  There are lots of small parts and delicate ribbons that can be torn.  If you do the repair yourself, you must also consider purchasing proper tools.  Many replacement parts from sites like Amazon do come with free tool kits, but these are very basic, small tools.  Believe me when I say the tools make a difference.  Better tools make the repair process go smoothly and with less chance of accidental damage.

Repair Tools

Compare the free tools (left), with some of our tools (right), and with the ones on the iFixit site.  You can see the difference in quality and how the free tools may not be the easiest to use.  A basic smart phone repair tool kit averages $20.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying don’t try a DIY repair.  There are plenty of people out there who have success.  If you are not 100% confident in your technical abilities, home cell phone repair may not be for you.

Considering all that goes into a repairing a smart phone, you can see how repairs can become expensive pretty quickly.  But, hey, I know I would rather pay $200-$300 for a repair than $650-$850 for a new iPhone 6.

So protect your investment.  Come down to Tech Armor and get a case and a tempered glass screen protector. And if you do happen to need a repair, come to Tech Armor for high quality parts, high quality service, and 90 warranty on all parts and repairs.

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