iDoc are professionals when it comes to repairing smartphones. In the name of helping people to help themselves, they create high-quality repair instructions and carry out teardowns. The most recent one is dedicated to the Google Pixel 4. You can order the replacement display there, which alone costs more than some low-budget smartphones – and is therefore still cheap! We asked why the prices for smartphone spare parts are so high.
For 169 euros you get a brand new display for your Google Pixel 4 from iDoc. At the time of introduction, the top smartphone had cost a hefty 749 euros, meanwhile the street price has normalized to less than 500 euros. Depending on the value, the spare part costs one fifth or one third of the new price.
Recently, colleague Antoine had shown two studies that make such comparisons and evaluate the repairability of smartphones. There it was said that no single spare part should cost more than 20 percent of the new price. In practice, values of over 40 percent are customary on the market. If we look around the iDoc shop, we will find a …
Helping people to help themselves and repairs are sensible hobbies. They would be much more useful if someone could also save money with it. Unfortunately, this is only really possible with a few manufacturers; including (of course) Fairphone (test), Shiftphones and surprisingly also LG.
The Koreans sell spare parts “officially for end users on their own homepage”, explains iDoc spokeswoman Sabine Raspe. “Samsung and Google only sell their products to certified repair shops and service partners, but they do not have the same extreme requirements as Apple. For example, we source our Samsung originals from a service partner.”
In addition to the artificial shortage of spare parts, a middleman receives part of the margin. I then asked:
Is it true that some manufacturers like bloodhounds are behind to protect their monopoly on spare parts?
“At Apple you can call it a persecution by bloodhounds. Original spare parts are not available on the open market. In addition to Apple's workshops and service partners, there have been some licensed workshops since last autumn that are allowed to repair with originals – under strict conditions (iDoc article). Apple also partially limits functions after the repair, such as TruTone (iDoc article). “
Samsung has sometimes acted similarly doggedly, as the former CEO of the repair portal kaputt.de Moritz Zyrewitz had explained to us. The prices are correspondingly astronomical, at least for the edge displays, which are admittedly also complicated to manufacture. Displays for mid-range smartphones like the Galaxy A50 only cost iDoc 69 euros.
If we had known that beforehand …
The right to repair is now a global concern. In the United States, people are struggling to regain the right that was a matter of course before the economic miracle. One is also running in the EU Right-to-repair campaign.
The repair itself is usually not prohibited, but consumers are unnecessarily harassed when trying. After a few years, the availability of spare parts is added to the high prices. Then it becomes increasingly difficult to find a dealer with the right part. Legislators should intervene at the latest here. Consumers should at least know in advance how long and at what price they can still repair their device.
Because when we buy devices, we should not only be able to use them, but also be allowed to repair them (otherwise we could have just rented them). It is about the principle and incidentally also about the environment.
Cover picture by iDoc