Apple finally launched a self-repair program for the iPhone last month, (theoretically) allowing anyone to fix their own iPhone without taking it to an authorized repair shop. However, it doesn’t seem like a great solution.
Apple revealed in November 2021 that it would launch a ‘Self Service Repair’ program in early 2022, providing repair instructions and official parts to anyone who wants to fix their iPhone, iPad, or Mac at home. Apple has been criticized over the years for limiting access to official repair parts, making it difficult for both customers and unauthorized repair shops to fix Apple products. Sounds great, right?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given Apple’s history with difficult repairs, the Self Service Repair is not an easy experience. Sean Hollister at The Verge tried a simple battery replacement on his iPhone Mini, which involved purchasing a new battery for $69 (the same price the Apple Store charges for the whole repair process), $49 to rent Apple’s tools for a week, and a $1,200 credit card hold for the toolkit that would be forfeited if the tools weren’t returned within a week. The instructions are designed with these proprietary tools in mind, and the entire toolkit reportedly weighs 79 pounds. Finally, the replacement battery was still registered as an “Unknown Part” until the final step: calling a third-party logistics company and giving them remote access to verify the hardware.
Here’s what I captured. Had to reboot my phone into a diagnostics mode and give them control of some sort. Then it rebooted and they told me I was done pic.twitter.com/YjeIVwqpVw
— @firstname.lastname@example.org (@StarFire2258) May 21, 2022
Brian X. Chen at The New York Times had an even more difficult time with a battery replacement on an iPhone 12, even after successfully replacing the battery in an older iPhone XS with a $45 iFixit kit. He didn’t remove the phone’s security screws before initially removing the screen, causing the original display to shut down after the repair. After also replacing the screen with a spare from an independent repair, he had to contact customer support to get the battery recognized as a genuine Apple part.
Repairing most modern electronics is challenging under the best circumstances, so it’s not too unsurprising that the process for fixing an iPhone is tricky. However, Apple is seemingly making self-service repairs more difficult by shipping people the same equipment that standard repair shops own. To use a car analogy, that’s like if Toyota sent you an industrial car lift to fix a flat tire. Companies like iFixit have proven that you don’t need hundreds of dollars of equipment to repair iPhones, but an iFixit kit will leave you with popups on your iPhone about unauthorized repairs, which is why Apple’s own option was highly anticipated.
In the end, if you need a new screen or battery for your iPhone, you’re (unfortunately) still best off visiting an Apple Store.
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