Why it matters where you get your phone fixed.

With every man and his dog offering to fix iPhones these days and with prices as low as £25 it's not surprising people are asking "Why does it matter, and why is there such a price difference?". Price alone doesn't dictate the quality of the service your phone will receive, but it usually is a good indicator of what to expect.

At the extreme budget end of repairs, you can typically expect to have your phone returned to you in a working, but probably somewhat worse-for-wear state and not feeling like it had the quality of the unit before. Some of the reasons are as follow;

  • Quality of parts
    An obvious first item to inspect. With iPhone screens there are typically three aftermarket grades, four if you really go scraping at the bottom of the barrel.
    • Genuine Apple original - can only be sourced through Apple directly at a higher cost.
    • 'Original spec' - premium quality replacement LCD and glass built to Apple's specifications
    • 'AAA' grade - standard quality LCD display usually with safety or tempered glass
    • 'AA' grade - a lot of the screens have washed out saturation, pinstripe horizontal lines, shadowing near contrasts, ordinary glass
    • 'B' grade - slightly defective LCD, plain glass
  • Quality of workmanship
    iPhones are complex assemblies with dozens of screws and at least 10 different sizes of screws, each item cannot be swapped with another or damage can result. The process of repairing an iPhone consists of over 50 steps and several of those can result in permanent damage if done out of sequence or incorrectly. It does not take a lot of pressure or force to break many of the components. Repair proficiency takes a lot of practice and experience to avoid damaging the phone. Using the wrong tools, wrong techniques and wrong parts will cause lasting damage.
  • Time pressure
    In a perfect scenario it takes about 20~30 minutes to swap out an iPhone screen, however due to the damage on the phone being unpredictable it often takes up to an hour to do properly. When technicians are under pressure to repair a phone as quickly as possible mistakes often happen, frequently ones that necessitate disassembling the phone yet again, adding another 10~20 minutes to the task. Time can be shaved off the repair process by discarding 'non-crucial' parts and steps, but while these items won't explicitly stop your phone from working, they do reduce the operational envelope of your phone. 
    Apple is not in the business of adding parts or steps to an iPhone assembly just for the fun of it; if it doesn't need to be there Apple wouldn't put it there. More time required to repair your phone means a higher repair cost, however it also means that it is likely to be done properly. A cheaper rush job is likely to have mistakes that will reduce the operational integrity of your phone.

At the end of the day the choice comes down to you, the owner of the phone. There is a wide range of pricing for what seems to be the same repair job, but often there's reasons for the price variances outside of simple money grabbing.