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  • Writer's pictureJohn O'Rangers

Samsung Parts Serialization: What Is It?

I just wanted to brief everyone on some developments in the Samsung repair arena that is occurring as we speak. The serialization of components, the effect it has on repair, and who gets to repair your device. This is an unfortunate, yet predictable situation and there really isn't a lot that can be done about it.

First, to clarify my position on Samsung phone repair, many of you have called me in recent weeks, only to find that I'm offering little to no repairs on many Samsung devices. The price list on this website you may notice doesn't provide much information on Samsung screen repairs either. Why is this so?

Admittedly in recent years I've voluntarily chosen to not service a lot of the flagship Samsung devices. My reasoning was twofold. One was that it was always very expensive to service a Samsung, and the wholesale prices for the parts was equally sky high. Second, liability was not acceptable. One slip of a screw and you ate $200 in parts. So as a businessperson, I determined that the risk was unacceptably high. I still would do the repairs from time to time, but as things have progressed, I've done less.

Things became more challenging for the Samsung repair market in the last two years. As many of you know, the phone repair business started and was known predominantly for small independent shops like CDC. That is rapidly changing, as more and more large franchises have sprung up in this industry, as well as corporate stores like the Apple Store, and even the big box retailers are jumping in on the game. This has put pressure on shops like CDC, as competition will do that naturally. But there are even more factors in play now, and it's starting to make independent repair viability questionable.

It's called serialization. What is it? Simply put, the technology in modern electronics are such that individual components can be matched to the device. And I'm talking everything, right down to the simple things like batteries and flex cables. Replace a part in a phone? It won't function without special tools that can read the phone and turn the component on. This technology is not new. For example, Apple has been doing this in various forms since the iPhone 5S series, and that's going back 7 years. This situation is escalating, and it's leading to the decline of the independent repair shops and escalating repair costs.

In the case of Samsung, they are rapidly phasing in this serialization issue with their latest phones. For example, if you break a screen, the fingerprint scanner becomes a problem. Often times the scanner is a subcomponent in your phone, and you transfer it to the new screen assembly. Historically speaking, Apple was set up this way. But with Samsung, that's not going to cut it. As I understand the situation, the scanner will work initially, but the next software update? Boom, it's rendered inoperable. Allegedly the front camera on the S20 model may be serialized in a similar manner as well. I do know that the camera is tightly glued into the frame, and extracting it is difficult.

So where does this leave us? Your only option, should you choose to fix your device, is to go to one of Samsung's "Authorized" repair centers. And who are these operators? You guessed it, the franchises. There's one in Frederick as we speak. And on top of that, they're doing the repairs under the Samsung umbrella, so they're cheaper. I can get the same exact genuine parts, but they are sold at full retail. So I'm going to not only be way more expensive, but less able to properly repair your device. This is just reality folks.

Like I said, it's disappointing that it is occurring, but I always understood in the 7 years I've been here that it was always going to be a factor as time progressed. The fact that I've made it this far I feel is a good accomplishment; I was an unemployed person when it all started. For the record, there have been efforts made to fight these trends, and it's known as "Right to Repair". A lobbying group known as has fought aggressively to lobby state legislatures to pass laws compelling manufacturers to make the tools, parts, and schematics available to independent repair facilities. I admire their efforts, however I haven't always agreed with their some of their positions.

In the end I've had limited expectations that groups such as would be successful. Maybe they will, but I'm somewhat pessimistic. The reason? History. I'm a little older than the average cell phone repair shop owner, so I've seen business trends develop in other industries. It was my first ever job as a teenager that comes into focus on this one. I was a clerk in a small drug store back in the late 1980s. Best job I ever had, by the way. But the store was independently owned, not unlike CDC. The owner, like so many others in the retail drug industry, ultimately was forced out of business due to the encroachment of the large chains like CVS and Walgreens. Those big drug chains were able to swallow up the insurance market, similar to the Samsung situation, and it drove customers away from the independents. I see that trend developing in phone repair nowadays.

So it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. I'm not going to give up and walk away, but it is rapidly becoming obvious that I need to diversify my offerings, that much I know. Anyways, I hope you found this information informative, and if you have any questions, please Email, call, or stop by the shop.

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