Apple is separating the new smartphones into its usual low-cost versus high-cost categories, with big differences between the two models coming down to the camera, display, and battery life.
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Leaked Apple Document Outlines Apple's iPhone Repair Rules
Dated March 3, 2017, the document is known internally as the "VMI" and covers the iPhone 6, 6s, and 7, along with Plus models. An Apple technician told Business Insider that there's a similar document for all of its products, and that it's generally used for training.
The guide is divided into three sections. The green section denotes problems where Apple will provide a warranty service, the yellow covers issues where Apple will offer out-of-warranty repairs, and the red section contains examples of issues Apple will refuse to fix.
Debris under the display glass, a pixel anomaly, FaceTime camera foam misalignment, and a single hairline crack to the front glass are all problems that Apple will fix under warranty, even if there's additional accidental or liquid damage to the device. These are the only issues that can be fixed automatically even with additional damage to a device.
Apple will provide out-of-warranty replacements for liquid damage confirmed by the user, evidence of corrosion, LCD fractures, camera damage from lasers, cracks at a point of impact, damaged Lightning/audio/microphone components, extreme abrasion or puncture holes, and a bent or split enclosure.
Devices that have user-replaced parts, intentional tampering or damage, non-Apple batteries, or catastrophic damage are not eligible for service at all. Enclosure damage, like scratches and scuffs, is not covered and cosmetic problems do not warrant a replacement or repair if there are no other issues.
Apple also has a special set of rules for water damage. Employees are instructed to look for signs of water damage both internally and externally when diagnosing issues, and if there is evidence of contact with water, employees are told to deny some in-warranty repairs and instead offer an out-of-warranty repair.
According to Apple employees, the VMI isn't often used unless there's an "oddball issue," and it's also more of a guide than a hard and fast rule when it comes to replacement, as there are many issues that arise that aren't covered here. "There are always those one-off issues that the phone is technically not covered under warranty but we swap the phone anyways under warranty," an Apple technician told Business Insider.
These rules don't apply to devices covered by AppleCare+, as that warranty entitles users to two device replacements or repairs, even for accidental damage, so long as the fee is covered. For out-of-warranty repairs, Apple charges $130 to $150 for screen repairs and $300 to $350 for other damage. With AppleCare+, a screen repair costs $29 and other damage costs $99 to fix.