iPhone & iPad parts - what matters, and where we source it from.

April 25, 2014

Today, we're doing something unorthodox.

Most businesses in this industry refuse to give away information. We'll be doing just that - I'm going to tell you

  • Who we purchase iPhone/iPad/iPod replacement parts from.
  • Why we purchase these parts from them.
  • What we look for when purchasing parts.

Our iParts come from Jack Telecom.

Jack Telecom is the company we have chosen above all others for our primary usages - supply to customers we like, and usage on repairs. You can contact their head of sales at [email protected]

Our judgment comes from varied experience.

We've been purchasing parts for these devices for over five years, and for a short period of time, our proprietar was a wholesaler of these parts. As such, we've ordered hundreds of thousands of screens from dozens of different vendors; not just for resale, but for our own personal use.

Jack Telecom offers defect rates to die for.

Over the years we've kept track of defect rates. Jack Telecom's has consistently been the lowest. An order of 1300+ iPhone 4S LCDs has spawned less than eleven defects! This under 1% defect ratio is unheard of in the industry.

At our shop, we often don't test the touchscreen functionality when fixing an iPad until after we've adhesed the digitizer into the iPad. Can you say the same for the parts you use now? If you can't, you're missing out.

Top tier packaging has a lot to do with this.

Defect rates this low are not just achieved through good parts & proper assembly. These parts travel 9000 miles to get here, and it's often a rough ride.

Standard vendors put the screen into a little slip of bubblewrap and call it a day. Jack Telecom uses form fitting styrofoam molds with corrugated boxes for each LCD. Occasionaly Jack utilizes a combination of bubblewrap & an antistatic bag which is then placed into a corrugated box. These parts are then placed into a styrofoam protective box, which is then placed into a standard box.

Of all the vendors we've purchased from, none offered the quality packaging Jack does. You pay a small premium for it, but it is worth it to have the low defect rate offered by their company.

Defect rates aren't everything - we use 'em to make sure they're good, too.

Defect rates only tell a part of the story. Defects are when a customer returns a part. Many customers do not return a part if it works, and is "good enough."

This is where wholesalers get in trouble. As most wholesalers are not end users of the parts they're selling, they do not know if they're getting the best. Their only metric is defect rate - as such, they will only know if what they are getting is "good enough" for it to not come back.

As users of the product, we work with them on a regular basis. We've not just sold pallets upon pallets of these parts, but we also install them into devices on a regular basis.

Our endorsement of Jack Telecom is based on a combination of in-depth, real world usage of their parts, in addition to the defect rate metric.

We ignore people who try to sell to us based on a single sample quantity.

There are tons of hotshot sales people who walk into our store, trying to get us to purchase their products based on showing them to us, but they miss the point. There are many  characteristics we utilize to distinguish quality that cannot be told from simply looking at a screen, such as

  • Quality of the LCD flex cable.
  • Quality of the adhesives used.
  • Thickness of LCD/glass in relation to the adhesive.
  • Consistency in quality.
  • Defect rate.

When companies manufacture cheap parts, they compromise in many areas. High image quality on the LCD of an iPhone screen is easy to obtain, if you compromise in other areas.  Let's go over each one of these individually and go over why they matter.

The quality of the LCD flex cable is important because this bends as you install the part into a device. If the flex cable on the high-copy LCD is poorly made, it will actually stop the LCD from working when you plug it into the phone. You often have to fold the flex cable to install it into the phone. Many LCDs are sold where the simple process of plugging it in will break it!

The adhesives used are important because iPhone screens are held together by adhesive, not by screws. If the adhesive is low grade, the screen can come apart if the phone is left out in the sun!

The thickness of the glass and LCD used is important because a thicker LCD & glass leaves less room for proper adhesive. The cheaper LCDs are often thicker, and as a result, less adhesive can be used. If a thinner adhesive is used between the LCD & the glass, the glass will touch the LCD when it is pressed. If it touches the LCD, you will see what appears to be exploding blobs of color when you touch the screen. This is a common customer complaint, and the most often used excuse by a customer to not pay for service when you're done with a repair.

Consistency in quality is very important as well. It matters not how good one part is, it matters if you can consistently manufacture this level of quality. You don't need one part to be good, you need them all to be good! You need them all to not be defective.

The decision to purchase from a Chinese vendor should not always be to save X amount of money.

I have colleagues who balk at the prices Jack offers them. Sometimes Jack's prices are 10% less than their local vendor. Sometimes Jack's prices are 5% more than their local vendor! I often hear "In these cases, why in god's name would I want to buy from them?", to which I sigh, because you're missing the point.

It's not all about the money. Let's do some math.

Let's say a local vendor sells an iPhone 4S LCD for $24, and Jack is selling this for $22.50. We have two possible scenarios.

a) Local vendor is selling a Jack level part for $24, while paying $22.50.

b) Local vendor is selling a $15 part for $24, so they can actually make money.

B is what is happening. Yes, you might only save $1.50 from your decision to go to Jack, but you'll be getting a much higher level of quality, all the while building relationships with other suppliers. If you are a consistent buyer, you might even wind up saving money.

Your customers are worth the extra money if you're a repair services firm.

You fix devices. You make $40, $60, $120, or $250 whenever you perform a job. Sweating a dollar here and there is silly! Leave that to the wholesalers. Leave sweating a dollar or three here and there to companies with business models that are such that $3 is a 100% increase in profit to them.

Jack isn't the cheapest Chinese vendor. You can buy $30 iPhone 5 Screens right now, and $15 iPhone 4/4S LCDs. What I want you to do here, is think about the cost savings, and think about how the additional hassle you cause your customers can undo all of your cost savings.

A small percentage of dissatisfied customers will never come back to give you an opportunity to make it right. These customers will cost you far more than what you save buying cheap junk.

Let's say your iPhone 5 LCDs currently cost $43 from Jack. You find someone who sells them for $40. You fix eight of these per day. 8 * 30 * 3 = $720/month in savings.

Let's say out of those 240 customers, eight of them have issues. Let's say out of those eight people, two just don't feel like going back. They get a new phone, or badmouth you to everyone they speak to. Let's say each one of those people tells another 30 people that your services are terrible. If even three of them had a liquid damaged computer they would have brought you, that's $300 per person you're out, and the $720/month in cost savings is ruined.

The problem is, you will never know about the people who decide not to come back if they have an issue.

We use Jack Telecom parts because they give our customers the best overall experience with us, and they save us the highest amount of time. I am confident that any cost savings we would have had purchasing from other vendors is far outweighed in the amount of time we've been able to spend on other, higher profit repairs, because we weren't wasting time performing warranty work for unhappy customers. I am confident that the customers who have recommended us to others who may not have if their repair were done poorly has made us far more profit than we could have ever hoped to save by cheaping out with another company's iPhone screens.

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