If you drop your iPhone and you don’t have it covered by AppleCare or another insurance plan, it’s almost always cheaper to have it repaired by a third-party than it is to have Apple do it. Unless you have an iPhone 5.
Apple’s tight control over iPhone 5 components means that they’re so hard to get hold of, repair costs remain high — even with third-party services. Some have even been unable to offer iPhone 5 repairs because they cannot obtain the parts.
Apple charges up to $229 to replace a broken iPhone 5 display, which is $29 more than the price of a new device with a two-year contract. It’s also more than a third of the iPhone 5′s $650 price tag without a contract. But using third-party repair services won’t save you much. In fact, in some cases, they’re more expensive.
According to a new report from MarketWatch, some charge as much as $250 for a new iPhone 5 display. Others just won’t repair Apple’s latest smartphone at all.
“Due to the high cost of replacement parts, we are not yet offering iPhone 5 repairs,” reads an online statement on ComputerOverhauls.com. “Currently, the Apple Store is the least expensive option for repairing damaged iPhone 5s.”
If the components were cheaper and easier to obtain, repairing an iPhone 5 display would be super cheap, because it’s an easy job. AJ Forsythe, the founder of iCracked, a repair service for iOS devices, says that it takes between five and ten minutes to replace and iPhone 5 screen, because there are only five screws that keep it in place.
In comparison, an iPhone 4 display takes a lot longer, because it’s held in place by 27 screws and a whole host of tiny components. And yet the iPhone 4 costs significantly less to repair at $79 to $99.
“Market forces determine the price,” Forsythe says. “Apple sells about 300,000 iPhones a day and, as the repair market grows, prices will get lower.”
But that can only happen if Apple loosens its control on iPhone 5 components.
“Apple controls everything from the manufacturing to the gear for the iPhone 5,” says Jeff Haynes, editor at deal site TechBargains.com. “Apple is trying to get people to sign up for Apple Care for $99 and to rely on their services at the Apple store. If you don’t, that cracked screen could cost you at least $230.”
If you have butter fingers and you frequently drop your smartphone, then, an iPhone 4 or 4S is likely to be a much better option than an iPhone 5. Unless you’re willing to spend $99 on AppleCare, in which case iPhone 5 repairs aren’t anywhere near as expensive.