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Apple Certified Replacement Parts vs Aftermarket: Pros and Cons

By 1st May, 2024No Comments

Apple is certainly a household name and, until January 2024, had held the position as the world’s most valuable company for nearly a decade. With approximately $2.63 trillion (approximately £2.11 trillion) in market cap as of 1 May 2024, there’s no doubt that Apple is amongst the most profitable and well-managed companies worldwide, particularly in terms of supply chains.

It’s no small feat to organise global supply chains and to manage and oversee the production of millions upon millions of iPhones, iPads, Macs and various other innovative products. The overwhelming popularity of Apple products in the UK and worldwide necessitates tightly controlled and superbly managed supply chains with 200 suppliers worldwide for not only parts and components used in the assembly of Apple products, but also millions of replacement parts for damaged products as well.

When shopping around for iPhone repairs or iPad repairs (or MacBooks, Macs, iMacs, or Apple Watches), one of the most important considerations one must make is what quality of replacement parts or components are used to repair the device. This blog post will explore some of the differences between genuine OEM Apple replacement parts and “unofficial” aftermarket replacement parts as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Pros & ConsWhat are “official” Apple replacement parts?

Official Apple replacement parts are genuine OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Apple parts only available to select entities. Apple maintains a very strict supply chain as well as conformity to rigorous standards of compliance, so their suppliers are not available to the general public but instead only to the following:

  • Apple Repair Centres
  • Apple Authorised Sevice Providers (AASPs)
  • Independent Repair Providers
  • Self Service Repair

All of these repair providers (and the Self Service Repair option) have access to genuine Apple parts and components, as well as training and resources direct from Apple.

Where do official Apple components come from?

As mentioned in the introduction, Apple heavily relies (up to 98% of procurement spend) on a list of 200 suppliers worldwide, the largest being Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Limited (also known as Foxconn) based in Taiwan. The vast majority of Apple’s suppliers manufacture parts in a few countries, namely mainland China, India, Vietnam, Japan, the United States, and in a handful of cases, European countries such as Italy and France.

The factories that produce genuine Apple parts must adhere to Apple’s strict standards of compliance and quality assurance, which inevitably drives up costs of manufacturing and distributing replacement parts and components. It also enforces a closed supply ecosystem to select downstream technicians such as those mentioned above, i.e. official Apple Store and Repair Centres and AASPs.

PROs and CONs of official Apple components

If your Apple device is repaired with official Apple replacement parts or components, what are some of the advantages and disadvantages?

PROs:

  • Reliably high-quality held to strict standards by Apple
  • Guarantees for components such as iPhone screens, regardless of warranty status
  • Apple devices still under warranty will not be void when using official Apple repairs
  • Thorough factory testing of the device before being reissued to the customer
  • Diagnostics and calibration of Touch ID for certain Apple devices

CONs:

  • Very limited choice, i.e. Apple Repair Centres, AASPs, Independent Repair Providers
  • Significantly higher cost of repairs compared to aftermarket components
  • Typically long delays since many repairs cannot be performed by technicians and must be sent directly to Apple
  • Often minimal or negligible difference in quality compared to top-tier aftermarket Apple replacement parts
  • Parts and components not available for many older, discontinued Apple devices

Aftermarket Apple parts

The vast majority of Apple replacement parts on the market today are aftermarket (or “unofficial”) Apple parts manufactured predominantly in mainland China, Taiwan, Vietnam, or the United States (but mostly China).

Aftermarket Apple parts are not beholden to Apple’s strict standards of quality assurance and compliance along the supply chain for end customers, so naturally this means that quality can vary significantly as can costs. From Apple’s point of view, a replacement part is either official Apple or not, and Apple’s general opinion on non-authorised parts is not very nice, to put it lightly.

How good are aftermarket Apple parts?

With aftermarket parts, quality grading is merely subjective at best. Some retailers and independent Apple device repair shops in the UK use a scaled grading system such as Premium (best quality, “just as good” as OEM Apple), Grade A, B, C, and so on. These grading scales are subjective and are only meaningful if the technician is honest and has experience dealing with particular suppliers and using their parts for any length of time.

On the one end, aftermarket Apple parts can be “just as good” as OEM Apple parts in terms of quality and are almost always significantly cheaper to acquire. On the opposite end, some aftermarket parts are truly rubbish and can potentially brick your iPhone or damage your Apple device.

Generally, however, aftermarket parts from reputable suppliers have so drastically improved quality over the past few years that iTechs and qualified technicians now usually have a good idea of quality when they see it. Moreover, aftermarket parts from highly reputable suppliers are increasingly meeting Apple’s standards of quality yet are still available at a fraction of the cost.

Where do official Apple components come from?

Unlike OEM Apple parts, aftermarket Apple parts are truly a free market and there are no restrictions on who can purchase these parts. Consequently, nearly all independent third-party Apple device repair technicians such as those found on iTechnician in the UK and worldwide receive their supply of Apple replacement parts from aftermarket parts manufacturers – again, mostly from China.

Hundreds (or even thousands) of factories across China and elsewhere tend to specialise highly in a particular part or component such as batteries or LCD/OLED screens for iPhones or iPads, for example. These factories often produce millions of units every month, supplying their products to independent third-party technicians worldwide.

PROs and CONs of aftermarket Apple components

What should you consider before having your Apple device repaired with aftermarket parts? Consider the pros and cons below:

PROs:

CONs:

  • Inconsistent standards of quality ranging from superb to rubbish
  • No guarantee from Apple for repairs (iTechs sometimes provide their own in-house guarantees, however)
  • Your Apple device warranty will be voided when using aftermarket replacement parts
  • No factory testing required, although most iTechs will test the device and run diagnostics before reissuing it to you
  • Can interfere with functionality of Touch ID on specific Apple devices
  • Typically long delays since many repairs cannot be performed by technicians and must be sent directly to Apple
  • Often minimal or negligible difference in quality compared to top-tier aftermarket Apple replacement parts

Recycled & salvaged Apple device components

Although we originally mentioned that OEM Apple parts are only available through select channels, it is actually fairly common to find OEM Apple parts being used by third-party repair technicians.

iTechs and other third-party technicians often have a (limited) supply of recycled Apple devices which can be salvaged for various components and reused to refurbish models for sale or to repair a customer’s device.

This provides customers with the choice of acquiring OEM Apple replacement parts (although technically they are used parts) from third-party iTechs at often steep discounts. In many cases, components such as screens may be in perfectly good condition; perhaps an iPhone owner bricked their iPhone and couldn’t be bothered to repair it out of warranty and sold it for scrap value.

Using recycled Apple parts is better for the environment and your wallet

Recycling Apple device parts and components is far more sustainable than buying new as it promotes more of a circular economy. Since used Apple devices are often bought at a discount for their scrap value, they’re also typically far more affordable than buying new.

Isn’t it strange that Apple – a company so insistent on going carbon neutral by 2030 and proclaiming lofty environmental sustainability goals – has been a laggard (and even lobbying against) the Right to Repair movement and repair-friendly initiatives such as repair support for used Apple parts?

These parts are often harvested from larger e-waste recycling operations with the components being sold to technicians across the UK. Ask an iTech near you about the availability of recycled OEM Apple parts if you want the full reassurance of having official Apple parts at a discount.

Repair your Apple device with iTechnician

Get quick and fair quotes for Apple device repairs in the UK by choosing an iTech listed here on iTechnician. We help connect you with qualified, vetted and approved iTechs that can repair your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Mac, iMac, or Apple Watch at great prices with quality parts.