In the past, owning a smartphone was considered a luxury. Since 2010, times have changed. Almost 80% of Americans own a smartphone, while cell phone ownership rates have climbed to 95%. That has created the need for a supportive industry to be introduced to the market: cell phone repair.
About $4 billion in revenues is generated by the cell phone repair industry in the United States each year. Since 2012, the industry has been growing at an annual average rate of 5.5%. Over 8,000 businesses are currently active in the industry, providing employment opportunities for about 23,000 people.
The highest levels of industry activity happen in the southeast U.S., where 31% of current businesses currently operate. In comparison, just 14% of cell phone repair shops are located in the western United States, though California is responsible for 10% of all industry establishments on its own.
Important Cell Phone Repair Industry Statistics
#1. Almost 70% of the cell phone repair shops that are currently operating entered the market less than 24 months ago. A majority of these shops are sole proprietorships and had no previous experience in the industry before opening their doors. (Experimac)
#2. In 2014, over $23.5 billion was spent by U.S. consumers on replacement parts and labor for broken smartphones. The most common repair was a cracked screen. (Experimac)
#3. Apple iPhones retain about 50% of their original value when they are first re-sold. When it comes to an iPad, the value retained is around 70%. Used Apple products, even if they have been repaired, can sell for 6 times the price of other brands. (Experimac)
#4. About 1 in 4 iPhone users have experienced a cracked screen at least once while owning the device. About 50% of U.S. homes own at least one product manufactured by Apple. (Experimac)
#5. Around 60% of cell phone repair locations will also sell phone accessories, screen protectors, and defensive products that are designed to prevent damage to the phone if it is dropped for some reason. (Experimac)
#6. A simple class or basic certification is often the only thing that is required to enter the cell phone repair industry. Most courses are 3-5 days in length and cost $1,500 or less. (Flipsy)
#7. Simple repairs may cost as little as $15 to complete for consumers, such as a jammed button or a malfunctioning operating system. (CNBC)
#8. If you need to have your iPhone repaired by Apple directly, then expect to pay around $200 if the phone is out of warranty or is not covered by Apple Care. Even if it is covered, the damage must be classified as “accidental” to be giving a repair charge of $100 or less. (CNBC)
#9. About 30% of iPhone suffer some form of damage over the course of a year. The most common causes of damage include drops, falling into liquid, getting knocked off a table, falling out of the user’s lap, and having liquid spilled on it. (LifeLine)
#10. Men are 57% more likely to drop their cell phone into a toilet compared to women, though 40% of women admit that they’ve damaged their cell phone in some way while using it in the bathroom. (PC Magazine)
#11. Men are 70% more likely to lose their phones compared to women. (PC Magazine)
#12. People in the 25-34 age demographic are the most likely to have their phones stolen, while the 18-24 age demographic are 16% more likely to damage their phone in some way than any other age demographic. (PC Magazine)
#13. Outside of the bathroom, the most common places where a cell phone is damaged is the driveway, the kitchen, the bedroom, and the living room. (PC Magazine)
#14. 20% of cell phone owners say that they get frustrated with their phone because they believe it is taking too long to load something. 10% of cell phone users say that they have difficulty entering text with their phone. (Pew Research)
#15. 21% of cell phone owners damaged their device in the kitchen, while 18% damaged it in the living room, and 16% damaged their phone in the bathroom. In total, 51% of iPhone accidents actually happen inside the house. (CNET)
#16. Water damage is responsible for 43% of the liquid damage repairs that are handled by the industry each year. This is followed by soda (19%), coffee (12%), and tea (12%). (CNET)
#17. 6% of iPhone owners admit that they left their phone on the top of their vehicle, forgot it was there, and then drove off. (SquareTrade)
#18. 1 in 4 cell phone owners say that they had damage happen to their phone because they gave it to one of their children to use. (The Street)
#19. T-Mobile reports that 80% of the claims that are made through its premium handset protection program are due to either damage or loss, with drops and water damage leading the way. (The Street)
#20. The chances of the average consumer losing their iPhone to a thief is 5% or less over the lifetime of the phone. (SquareTrade)
Cell Phone Repair Industry Trends and Analysis
As cell phones continue to evolve, the technologies inside the case tend to become more fragile. Manufacturers are offering reinforced products that can withstand falls from 1-3 meters, but even that is not a guarantee that something may need to be repaired at some time. For that reason, the cell phone repair industry is expected to grow at 5% per year over the next 5-year period.
Part of the reason why there is strong growth in this industry is the fact that the cost of a smartphone makes it worthwhile to repair it. With top-of-the-line phones retailing for $1,000 or more when not associated with a promotional plan, spending $100 to repair a broken phone seems like a valid investment.
Significant changes from Apple, however, could put upwards of 15,000 businesses into the unemployment line. As Apple moves away from a home button to a single piece of glass, the patented technology would move repairs from independent shops to Apple itself. That would require business owners to be certified by Apple to provide repairs at the very least.