Apple Taking Heat for Switching to Custom Screws on iPhone 4 and Portables


Kyle Wiens of repair site iFixit published a blog post today outlining Apple's increasing usage of custom "pentalobular" screws on the iPhone and other devices, with the company presumably making the shift in order to make it more difficult for users to open up their devices for repair or modification purposes.

Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw. This is not a standard Torx, and there are no readily available screwdrivers that can remove it. This isn't the first time they've used this type of screw - it first appeared in the mid-2009 MacBook Pro to prevent you from replacing the the battery - and Apple is using a similar screw on the outer case of the current MacBook Air. This screw is the primary reason the 11" MacBook Air earned a lousy repairability score of 4 out of 10 in our teardown last October.

Apple chose this fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive. Shame on them.

Wiens notes that there "isn't a single reputable supplier" offering the screwdrivers used by Apple technicians to handle the pentalobular screws.

151837 pentalobular torx screws

Apple has used the pentalobular screws in iPhone 4s sold in some international markets since the device's release, although iPhone 4s sold in the U.S. have for most of the device's history used standard Phillips screws more accessible to users. But numerous reports have surfaced from users who have taken their iPhones in for service only to discover that Apple has replaced their Phillips screws with the new pentalobular ones.

In order to assist customers interested in opening up their iPhone 4s, iFixit is offering an "iPhone 4 Liberation Kit" priced at $9.95, containing a screwdriver that will fit the new pentalobular screws (although not an exact fit), two replacement Phillips screws, and a regular #00 Phillips screwdriver.

Top Rated Comments

Rodimus Prime Avatar
148 months ago
Out of curiosity, what is a 5 point phillips head screwdriver? :p





You know exactly what I mean. It was how to descript what each point of look like.
It is a 5 point star no lobs type of screw driver. It is not standard because it is made only to take out those apple only screws.


Has to do with organic geometry. Lobe shapes and spline paths take the least amount of energy to adjust to another lobe or spline. Basic geometries take more energy and thus are not see often in nature. We continue this further, I'm going to start billing my consulting rates.


But your entire argument falls apart when low and behold inside the devices they are using standard screws. Hurts the entire argument and with machines the aligning times are not as much of an issue.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oldwatery Avatar
148 months ago
This prevents a lot of illegal/unauthorized repairs from happening. It also ensures users are going to the retail stores or authorized repair centers for repair.

For each and every iPhone manufactured, i'm sure apple wants to keep a running record of all and any repairs... illegal repairs do not add to a manufactured unit's service history.

apple wants to build a flawless device. when other people are servicing the product w/o providing the manufacturer a diagnosis and repair history, apple loses this vital information. This information is extremely valuable for any kind of manufacturer.

Illegal repairs...what the hell is an illegal repair.
If I buy something I can do what the hell I want with it.
It's one thing to have the Big brother looking over my shoulder with software but hardware...give me a break.
And certainly however I chose to repair it could not be construed as illegal.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nikhsub1 Avatar
148 months ago
Waiting for people to start defending this move. I mean, it's one thing to ship ALL phones with these screws but quite another to replace regular screws with these in customers phones. I would be pissed.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Front and Back MacRumors Exclusive

iPhone 14 Pro Renders Highlight Multiple Design Changes

Wednesday May 25, 2022 8:56 am PDT by
Leaker Jon Prosser today shared ostensibly accurate renders of the iPhone 14 Pro, providing the most accurate look yet at what the device could look like when it launches later this year. In the latest video on YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Prosser revealed renders of the iPhone 14 Pro made by Apple concept graphic designer Ian Zelbo, highlighting a range of specific design changes...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
apple wwdc 2022

Apple Shares WWDC 2022 Schedule, Keynote to Take Place June 6 at 10:00 a.m PT

Tuesday May 24, 2022 9:06 am PDT by
Apple today confirmed that the keynote event for the Worldwide Developers Conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time on June 6, the first day of WWDC. The keynote will be an online-only event, though a select number of developers have been invited to the Apple Park campus for a viewing event. In addition to confirming the keynote date and time, Apple has shared the full WWDC 2022...
2022 Apple Watch Pride Edition Bands

Apple Announces 2022 Pride Edition Watch Bands and Watch Face

Tuesday May 24, 2022 6:24 am PDT by
Apple today announced new Pride bands for the Apple Watch, with new Pride Edition Sport Loop and Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop options available. The new Pride Edition bands are available to order today for $49 on Apple.com and in the Apple Store app, and will be available at Apple Store locations starting May 26. The Pride Edition Nike Sport Loop is also coming soon to Nike.com. This...