The Apple iPhone 11: Brief and Early Thoughts on Repair [UPDATED]

Posted by Group Vertical on Sep 12th 2019

A new Apple keynote brings with it three new iPhones, and with them comes a set of modest upgrades. Following months of rumors and leaks, the Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max debuted with a handful of improvements over their predecessors, but largely failed to reveal any surprises. That goes for early adopters and repair techs alike.

For us, the biggest mystery leading into Apple’s event was how the new iPhones would be positioned for the market based on last year’s disappointing sales and the company’s recent spate of performance- and repair-related controversies. Maybe it’s just us, but it sure seems like Apple is pushing the cheaper XR-like iPhone 11 over the iPhone 11 Pro, as opposed to last year, when the XR stood in the iPhone XS’s shadow.

Those speculations aside, let’s dig into our thoughts on repair!

Apple iPhone 11

Think of this as the upgraded iPhone XR. It’s the most affordable and feature poor of the new iPhones, and still uses LCD screen technology. Its dual back camera setup is one camera up on the XR, but that’s the biggest change. It comes in six fizzy bright colors, and it’s sold on its versatility and functionality more than its tech specs.

Just compare Apple’s promo film for the 11 to its film for the iPhone 11 Pro. The former is all candy-colored excitement – spilled coffee, hair-flipping selfies, and cat-caused drop accidents – while the iPhone 11 Pro is only shown being handled by robotic arms in dimly lit test facilities (hanging out in dim lighting does not make us trust robots more).

Repair Thoughts on the iPhone 11

  • First, expect to repair the iPhone 11 a lot more than its siblings. This will be the highest seller, and price-conscious customers will be more apt to repair than replace.
  • We don’t have an iPhone 11 teardown yet, but the iPhone 11 Pro promo film showcases its precision-milled frame and back housing, which looks similar to last year’s models. Screen and battery replacements should be performed near-identically to repairs on the iPhone XR.
  • Speaking of precision milling, the back glass housing is all one piece, so if you scratch that (larger) camera lens, you’re going to have to replace the full back glass. We foresee more of these repairs than we’ve seen in the past.
  • Yep, the lightning port is still all alone at the bottom of the phone, and despite Face ID and wireless charging, a busted charging port/headphone jack is enough to drive the average user crazy.

Midframe and back housing assembly from Apple iPhone 11 Pro promotional film.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

These are the replacements for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, which have almost been pushed to the background, even behind the iPhone 8. Why get the XS or XS Max when the new Pro iPhones deliver better goods and the iPhone 8 can satisfy the traditionalists? Anyway, the promo film for the iPhone 11 Pro gives us the earliest, best look inside these new iPhones, as stated above. These two phones are made of stainless steel instead of aluminum, and they boast three back cameras protected behind another single-piece back glass.

Repairs Thoughts on the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max

  • These phones use what Apple calls Super Retina CDR OLED screen technology. For those in the repair business, that likely means just as many screen replacement options as we get for the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max. Expect to choose between OEM-refurbished OLED screens and an array of aftermarket soft and hard OLED screens and LCD imitation screens.
  • The back glass housing is one piece, and technically the back camera bump is the same size as the bump on the iPhone 11. Still, there’s one more camera, so scratches and scuffs are a big risk here, too.
  • Based on their premium status, the iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max won’t sell as well as the iPhone 11, but repairs for these will still outpace that of competing phones. Straightforward screen and battery replacements should be similar to repairs performed on the iPhone XS and XS Max.

Single back glass piece housing from the Apple iPhone 11 Pro promotional film.

Conclusion

It’s still early days on the latest crop of iPhones, and as of this writing, they’re only available for pre-order. That said, teardowns are right around the corner, and we’ll know for sure how closely repairs on these iPhones will hew to repairs on older iPhones. Until then, keep repairing and keep learning!

[UPDATED]

The first teardown for the Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max arrived on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. View the teardown and read our thoughts.

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