At the end of April 2022, Apple launched its Self Service Repair program, giving people the ability to repair their own iPhones at last. The program launched by offering parts and tools for three phone lineups: the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone SE (3rd generation). It also launched with official repair manuals, which individuals and repair businesses have been requesting for years, and a repair tool kit to rent for $49 for a week.
However, despite this exciting news, Apple is still exercising a huge amount of control over the process. One key control measure, in particular, will make you think twice before taking the DIY route.
Every iPhone Part Must Be Paired to a Device
Unlike other self-repair programs, Apple requires parts to be paired to a specific device before you can order them. In order to purchase a part at checkout, you will need to enter a device’s serial or IMEI number. Later, once the part has been installed, it then has to be paired with the device you referenced at the checkout by contacting an Apple representative.
This “parts pairing” tactic means that each time you repair a device, you will need to complete a System Configuration from Apple in order for your part to be fully functional and identified as genuine. Most annoyingly, the only way to do this is to get on the phone with Apple to run what they call post-repair software.
The Problem With Paired iPhone Parts
For a one-off repair, this is a slight inconvenience. But for third-party repair shops, it’s clear that there is no way of stockpiling genuine parts in order to complete quick repairs for customers. Instead, each customer who needs a repair will need to wait for their individual part to be ordered and shipped. Having these extra rules presents a real problem for third-party repair shops that want to offer genuine iPhone repairs to customers and still compete with Apple’s repair services.
But above all else, is it really necessary?
As iFixit explains, other companies don’t require you to jump through so many hoops to buy and then complete a repair yourself. By comparison, Google, Samsung, and Motorola have announced self-repair programs, and none of them require you to enter a serial number or phone the manufacturer in order to complete the DIY repair.
Does Apple’s Self Repair Program Have an Expiry Date?
What’s most concerning is that Apple’s self repair program has the power to shut down a line of phone repairs if it chooses to in the future. Once the iPhone 12 or 13 become outdated, Apple can simply stop authorizing parts as required through the parts paring process.
This means that even if you have a genuine Apple part, you wouldn’t be able to certify it. So although your part would work, you will be faced with an error message telling you it isn’t genuine—and there’s no way to stop it.
This also poses a problem for refurbishers. On the one hand, they can access Apple repair manuals and even rent professional-grade tools, but the requirement to pair parts will stop them from harvesting working parts from spare phones. In other words, under Apple’s self-repair program you won’t be able to take a working screen from a broken iPhone and use it to repair a second phone.
If the goal is to help more people carry out DIY repairs, while reducing e-waste in the process, then Apple’s control measures don’t help. With a potential expiry date on its line of repairs, this is another example of how brands use planned obsolescence.
Are Apples Rules Acceptable?
While some oversight by a manufacturer is acceptable, Apple’s repair program exercises unnecessary control that restricts what’s possible by refurbishers and third-party repair shops. If Apple decides to relax its control, then it would make the self repair program far more beneficial to people wanting to do a DIY repair.
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