Cost comparison of repairing your iPhone screen

Moneybags journalist, Danielle Van Wyk, compares the cost of repairing an iPhone in South Africa (SA) to other more developed markets like the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

The Apple brand globally is considered to be a luxury brand, with people flocking to purchase the latest offering. But with luxury status steep prices usually follow. For many who abide by brand loyalty this is a small price to pay for quality products, but the costs don’t end there. Anyone with an iPhone specifically will tell you that it is expensive to maintain and in the event of something breaking, you could be left to fork out thousands of Rands.

The complaint that things are getting more expensive with time is not uncommon, as nationally we have just experienced quite a few price increases from fuel to meat. But one of the fewer talked about increases is that of our tech products. In 2011, according to MyBroadband, the cost of an iPhone 4, the latest at the time, locally, was around R 8000.  Today, a mere five years later, the cost has risen by almost R 3000, and consumer’s pockets are feeling the pinch.

While the product is expensive, the cost of repair can be high too. For the purpose of the comparison we have looked at comparing the cost of a standard sized, 4.7 inch, iPhone 6S, and the cost of repairing or replacing its screen in all three countries. According to Brad Eyre, CEO of third party repair company, Platinum Repairs, damage to the screen constitutes 90% of all claims.

iPhone costing comparison

 

Cost of iPhone 6s

(16 gig, 4.7 inch standard)

Cost of repairing the iPhone 6s screen
South Africa R10 900 R 3999
United Kingdom From  £ 499  (R 8818.85) £ 146.44 ( R 2588.04 )
United States From $549  (R 7907.82) $ 129 (R 1859)

 

*The above information is accurate as of 12/10/16 and was sourced from the various countries iStore websites.

As per the table above, the cost of an iPhone 6S locally is almost R2000 more expensive than in the other markets. This almost seems unfair as compared to the US and the UK the South African economy is far weaker and the cost of living is notoriously higher. However, the weaker economy could explain the higher price tag.

The average South African salary for a teller or a cashier in 2016, is R5 259 according to Business Tech. This in relation to the average working wages in the US, for example, is far inferior, as they rake in around $ 3468.80 (R49 891, 92) per month. Thus being able to far better afford the expense of purchasing and maintaining an iPhone.

Within the South African context, while those earning around R 5 259 monthly wouldn’t necessarily opt to purchase an iPhone due to obvious financial constraints, as the phone in itself is almost twice their salary and the cost of repairing the screen almost their entire earnings. However, this example serves to show how poor salary remuneration is versus how expensive and possibly overpriced certain luxury items are.

Other repair options

It is, however, worth noting that many South Africans because of the notoriously steep prices associated with stores like iFix and WeFix, opt to have repairs done through informal traders or third party repair companies. Here one could expect to pay substantially less for a screen repair.

On average according to one informal trader the cost ranges anywhere from R2 000 – R 2500 to have your screen repaired. While this cheaper than the R 4000 that you would have to pay at an iFix store, for example, it is still expensive.

The added danger however with opting to utilise these traders are that they often do not honour any form of warranty for the work they perform.

“The screen is a complex part, with a high resolution LCD, invisible touch sensor (digitiser), oleophobic (anti-fingerprint) glass and a multi-layer backlight to evenly light up the LCD. The manufacturing process itself is complex and has to be done in a static and dust free laboratory. Every layer has to be applied to the LCD, perfectly, otherwise the screen is wasted. The size of the screen also affects the price – the bigger the screen, the higher the cost,” states Eyre.

According to Eyre, when the iPhone 4 was first released the cost to replace a screen was R 4500 and now it would set you back around R800. This due to the fact that as the phone gets older and the manufacturing costs of the screens drop.

“At the current prices from the factory and with our current exchange rate, it will probably cost around R 7,000 to replace an iPhone 7 screen. We hope that price will drop rapidly,” adds Eyre.

With the 6S, Platinum Repairs has two options: “The Real Deal – the highest quality screen available, with a lifetime warranty, for R 4,299 incl. VAT, and the same screen with a 12 month warranty for R 3,799. Some companies use generic 6S screens which are cheaper, but we have found them to be very unreliable, so we don’t use them.”

Another point to make would be the variance in the quality of the screens imported by various repair companies.

“All of the parts are imported, so we are exposed to exchange rate fluctuations, which can force prices up quickly. It’s also hard to know what grade of screen some companies are using. Some of the screens we import cost 400% more than the cheap screens available locally in SA,” Eyre explains.

However, if your phone is repaired by an unauthorised person, i.e. not someone recognised by the manufacturer as being qualified to repair the phone to manufacturer standards, your warranty will be void, and any further issues you have with the phone that may otherwise have been covered by the warranty, will no longer be covered. Click here for more on cell phone warranties (Link to Jess story when it is published).

Other options available for damaged/faulty iPhones

In the US and UK, it is better to in some instances replace the phone than to repair it. .

If the motherboard is faulty or damaged, that is when it often becomes cheaper to buy a new phone, or at least a good second hand one.

“We buy broken iPhones in bulk and try supply the motherboard at a price that makes a repair affordable, but that is not always possible, especially with new phones, such as the 6S,” says Eyre.

For people who can’t afford to repair their phones, companies such as Platinum Repairs, often refer them to sites like SellYouriPhone.co.za which is a company that buys broken iPhones.

Would having insurance lessen the cost?

While most insurance companies do make provision for your cell phone screens, you usually need to specify the item on your policy.

“Whether or not one should have insurance on your mobile I think depends on a person’s track record. If dropping your phone is a regular occurrence, insurance is definitely the way to go. We do a lot of work for insurers and they pay for the best quality screens, and often pay a call out fee for us to send a technician to repair the phone at the client’s home or office, so it’s far better than paying for it out of your own pocket,” states Eyre.

While there is usually a year warranty on all new phones, if the damage is caused by negligence the cover is compromised. For this reason many choose to fork out the additional Rands in insurance premiums.

With Vodacom Insurance, cover for an iPhone 6S would cost around R245 per month, while MTN would cost around R140 monthly. This in the grand scheme of repair and maintenance costs appears to be a fair price.

Moneybags thinks…

As with most things in life, you pay for what you get. In the grander scheme of things it appears to be worth paying a bit extra and getting a quality repair with a good warranty.

That being said, judging from the cost comparison prices associated with luxury brands and items aren’t financially feasible and affordable for the average South African.

At the end of the day there are other mobile products on the markets that serve the same purpose, it just depends where your brand loyalty lies.

To read more on cell phone warranties, what they include and cover and how long they last, click here.