Right to Repair Advocate on Apple's Program: 'Still Too Many Hoops to Jump Through' to Fix iPhones

Apple's new Self Service Repair program leaves iPhone owners with too many hoops to jump through to successfully fix their own devices, right to repair advocate Nathan Proctor said in a statement today. Proctor leads the U.S. PIRG's right to repair campaign, working to pass legislation that would allow consumers to repair their own electronics.

apple repair
Proctor said that the program is encouraging because Right to Repair is "breaking through," but Apple is exerting too much control by locking parts to a specific device and requiring Apple verification during the repair process.

"We are really pleased to see public access to Apple service guides for the first time in decades. However, it's clear that Apple is doubling down on requiring each part be encoded to a specific phone, and then requiring a connection to Apple to verify the part before it gains full functionality. I don't see how locking parts to a specific device and requiring manufacturer approval to install it offers any benefit to the product owner, but it does allow Apple to maintain a lot of control over the repair process. It also means that Apple can decide to stop supporting repairs. If Apple decides that a phone is too old, they can effectively put an expiration date on any product needing repair, defeating one of the most important aspects of repair -- minimizing toxic electronic waste.

"While this is a start, there are still too many hoops to jump through to fix phones. As it's becoming clear that Apple and other manufacturers can give us the Right to Repair, we should require them to. And we should have more options. Not just one set of parts. Not just a few manufacturers. No product should be tossed in the scrap heap, wasting money and adding to our toxic electronic waste problem, because the manufacturer doesn't properly support repair."

Proctor believes that Apple and other tech companies should give consumers more options and better access to parts from different manufacturers rather than requiring parts supplied by the company itself.

Repair outlet iFixit expressed similar thoughts on the program, and said that it is a "great step" forward, but restrictive because of the part verification requirements that tie new components to serial numbers.

Apple's new ‌Self Service Repair‌ program launched this morning, and customers can currently opt to receive repair kits to fix the battery, bottom speaker, camera, display, SIM Tray, or Taptic Engine of an ‌iPhone‌ 12 or iPhone 13 device.

Initiating a repair requires a serial number or IMEI, and after some of the repairs are complete, customers will need to initiate System Configuration with Apple. Repairs can be done with the rental toolkit from Apple, which costs $49 to rent for a seven day period.

Apple's rental toolkit includes all of the tools necessary to get into an ‌iPhone‌, but the actual replacement components are a separate charge. Apple's toolkit is massive at a total weight of 79 pounds, and kits must be returned to a UPS location when a repair is complete.

The toolkit rental and return process, the cost of replacement parts, and the verification may be more effort than some users want to put into ‌iPhone‌ repair, so it is unclear how popular Apple's program will be with ‌iPhone‌ users. On the plus side, repairs do not have labor costs associated, and all of the parts and tools are genuine Apple components, which isn't always the case with third-party repairs from companies other than Apple.

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Top Rated Comments

apparatchik Avatar
29 months ago
Well, the idea behind locking parts to a device is to discourage phone stealing, if someone steals or tries to sell a stolen iPhone it shouldn’t be worth the parts.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macative Avatar
29 months ago
Translation: It's still difficult and still costs money to fix them, so right to repair people will never be happy.

Right to repair is just a smokescreen for people who don't want to pay what Apple charges for repairs. Until they find out that buying OEM parts and renting the tools is still going to cost almost as much. Suddenly they won't want to repair them anymore.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Macintosh TV Avatar
29 months ago
Person who makes money on repairs wants it easier to make money on repairs. Imagine that. I don't need their hot take.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CWallace Avatar
29 months ago
As others have mentioned on the other threads today about Apple's program, the likely reason for Apple's "control" is to prevent stolen iOS devices from being harvested for spare parts. Yes, the cynic can (rightly) say that it's just to protect Apple's cut of the spare parts revenue stream, but it also helps curb the appeal of stealing iOS devices to feed an "underground parts network" and this should hopefully suppress the risk of iOS device theft significantly increasing.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jtkiley Avatar
29 months ago
It seems telling that the new "this isn't good enough" complaint is that people can't just use whatever parts they want. It's almost as if the whole point of "right to repair" is to boost margins by substituting cheaper parts for original ones.

A lot of Apple's moves in this area (and others, e.g., the App Store) seem to revolve around one idea: if things break on a product used by hundreds of millions of people (the vast majority of whom aren't tech enthusiasts), Apple thinks they'll be blamed for it. They're probably right about that.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hasanahmad Avatar
29 months ago
"Proctor believes that Apple and other tech companies should give consumers more options and better access to parts from different manufacturers rather than requiring parts supplied by the company itself."

this statement right here proves that right to repair movement is more about cheaper lower quality parts for users than the right to repair itself. the movement was called right to repair, not right to fix it for cheap
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)