Why does it cost so much to repair an iPhone?

iPhones are some of the most popular smartphones in the world, but they are also some of the most expensive to repair. There are several reasons why fixing a broken iPhone screen or other component can cost upwards of $200 to $300 in the United States.

Proprietary parts and tools

One major factor is that Apple uses a lot of proprietary parts and software in their iPhones, meaning parts are made specifically for Apple and cannot be sourced from third party manufacturers. For example, the iPhone’s screen, battery, rear camera, and logic board are all specially made for each iPhone model. One cannot simply buy a generic replacement part online and expect it to work seamlessly with an iPhone.

In addition to proprietary parts, Apple also uses proprietary software and diagnostic tools to calibrate iPhone components during repair. Most independent repair shops do not have access to these tools, forcing them to purchase discounted “aftermarket” parts that may not correctly sync with the iPhone’s software. This leads to higher costs being passed on to the consumer.

Difficult repairs

iPhones are notoriously difficult to repair without proper training and equipment. Their construction consists of compact, densely-packed components that are not designed to be easily accessed or removed by the average user. Attempting a DIY iPhone repair often leads to damaged parts or disruption of the intricate diagnostic software that allows components to work together seamlessly.

Professional iPhone repair requires specialized tools like screwdrivers and spudgers that can safely navigate within the iPhone without damaging other components. The iPhone’s battery is also notoriously difficult to remove and replace without expertise. Complicated repairs also add significant time and labor costs to any iPhone fix.

Supply chain and logistics

There are additional costs associated with Apple’s supply chain and distribution of official iPhone parts to authorized service providers. Apple closely manages their inventory of parts and only distributes them to “Apple Authorized Service Providers” (AASPs) and Apple Store locations. There are logistics expenses associated with this closed system of inventory management and transportation.

Once parts reach an authorized repair outlet, there are additional costs incurred if the part needs to be sent back to Apple due to a repair issue. For less common iPhone models, parts may need to be ordered and shipped, creating delays and extra fees.

Lack of third-party competition

The consumer electronics repair market lacks healthy competition, which helps keep repair costs high. Apple’s proprietary parts and software make it impossible for most independent repair shops to compete for iPhone repair business. Repairing newer iPhone models may even require Apple’s proprietary cloud-linked machine that calibrates replacement parts.

The lack of competitive options allows Apple and its AASPs to charge higher prices without repercussion. Third-party “aftermarket” iPhone parts are available, but may not correctly sync with the iPhone’s diagnostic software, leading to post-repair issues.

High retail costs

Apple keeps the retail costs of new iPhones very high, with most models starting around $700 to $1000 USD. When you consider that an iPhone is essentially a compact computer with a camera, this is significantly more expensive than many laptops or digital cameras with similar specifications. The high cost of iPhone hardware translates to higher repair costs as well.

Warranty voiding and access limitations

Apple also places tight control over warranty coverage. Any iPhone opened or repaired by a non-authorized repair shop automatically voids its warranty under Apple’s policies. Only AASPs may complete repairs covered under warranty.

For iPhone repairs needed outside of warranty coverage, using an unauthorized repair shop also comes with the risk of Apple rejecting any future repair claims and blocking access to diagnostic software necessary for future repairs.

High demand and low supply

There is consistently high demand for Apple products and services, including repairs, relative to market supply. As one of the world’s most valuable companies, Apple has incredible sway over the supply chain for their products. This imbalance leads to consumers having few cost-effective alternatives for repairs.

Premium branding strategy

Apple has established their premium branding strategy across all products and services. Products are not marketed as affordable or budget-friendly, but rather as exclusive and prestige. This branding strategy maintains the perception of iPhones as luxury items, and the high repair costs align with this branding message – if an iPhone is viewed as exclusive, costs will reflect that.

Difficulties with recycling and reuse

Apple makes it challenging for consumers to recycle older iPhone models or reuse functioning parts, contributing to higher costs. iPhones cannot simply be disassembled for recycling or spare parts. Apple tightly controls its supply chain of reusable parts, making affordable used parts scarce.

Apple also discourages recycling older models by discontinuing software support for models over 5 years old. Without software updates, older iPhones become incompatible with many apps and vulnerable to security risks.

Increasing complexity and miniaturization

As each new iPhone model is released, Apple adds new features and components that increase the product’s complexity. For example, newer iPhones contain multiple camera lenses and sensors, consolidated logic boards, advanced facial recognition sensors, and 5G connectivity.

This complexity makes each iPhone model more challenging to repair and increases the number of components that could potentially fail. The miniaturization trend in new iPhones also makes components more delicate and difficult to handle during repairs.

High freight costs

Many iPhone repairs involve shipping damaged devices to and from Apple Repair Centers if the consumer does not live near an Apple Store. This adds substantial freight transportation costs on top of the base repair fee.

Shipping an iPhone to a repair facility comes with fees for packaging materials, insurance, and rush delivery both ways. If expedited shipping is not purchased, the consumer may also be without a phone for days or weeks while it is being repaired.

Short product cycles

Apple releases new iPhone models every year, creating a short product cycle that encourages moving on to a newer device rather than investing in repairs for an older model. With each new release, the demand for parts and repair support for older models decreases.

This makes economies of scale more difficult for third-party repair shops specializing in a particular iPhone model. As availability of parts and documentation decreases, repair costs increase.

Limited manufacturer accountability

Apple is not accountable to any regulators or governing bodies when it comes to repairability standards. Unlike automobile manufacturers, Apple does not have to meet emissions or fuel efficiency standards. They have free reign to use as many proprietary components and make repairs as difficult as they choose.

Without enforced accountability, Apple is unlikely to make changes that improve repairability or environmental impact if it reduces their profits. This lack of accountability enables the high repair costs.

High demand for replacements, not repairs

Demand from consumers heavily skews toward purchasing replacement iPhones rather than repairing old models. Even with the high price tag, many opt for a new device and pass older models down. The demand for repairs does not match demand for new models.

This cycle feeds into Apple’s strategy of planned obsolescence for older models. If Apple can meet demand for new iPhone sales each year, they have little incentive to facilitate affordable repairs that extend the lifespan of existing devices.


The high cost of iPhone repairs can be frustrating for consumers, but is the result of intentional choices by Apple to use proprietary components and highly controlled distribution channels. This allows them to charge a premium at every stage while discouraging third-party repairs.

Until consumers begin demanding more repairable devices, Apple is likely to continue their practices. Those wanting to save money on iPhone repairs may have to opt for unofficial aftermarket parts, but should be cautious about potential compatibility issues.