iFixit Says Apple's Self Service Repair Program is Great Step, But Has a Catch

Apple's newly-launched Self Service Repair program is a "great step" forward, but "not the unqualified win for repair enthusiasts that Apple's marketers would have you believe," according to do-it-yourself repair website iFixit.

apple self service repair iphone
In a blog post today, iFixit's Elizabeth Chamberlain said the biggest problem with Apple's program is that parts must be paired with a device. When purchasing parts from Apple's Self Service Repair Store, a customer must enter a device's serial number or IMEI, and any parts ordered need to be paired with the same device after installation.

"Integrating a serial number check into their checkout process is a dire omen and could allow Apple the power to block even more repairs in the future," said Chamberlain. "Building the technology to provision individual repairs easily sets Apple up as the gateway to approve—or deny—any repairs in the future, with parts from any source."

To initiate the pairing process, known as System Configuration, Apple says customers will need to contact the Self Service Repair Store's support team by chat or phone. The parts store is operated by third-party company SPOT, not Apple.

iFixit said there is still "a lot to be excited about" with the details Apple announced, including availability of tools that only certified Apple technicians could access until now and free step-by-step visual repair manuals on Apple's website.

"We are really happy to see Apple making repair manuals available for everyone for free online," said Chamberlain. "Like, seriously happy. Like, we've-been-asking-for-this-for-twenty-years happy. They're selling their own proprietary repair tools to the public, too, again for the very first time. You can buy official Apple battery presses and display adhesive removal devices—or even, to our surprise, rent those devices."

iFixit remains optimistic that as Right to Repair legislation advances around the world, companies like Apple will be required to take further steps.

"At least Apple is getting some of their homework done in advance," said Chamberlain, about the initial phase of the program. "Manufacturers know the right to repair is coming—we'll get the rest of their assignments in due time."

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Top Rated Comments

mozumder Avatar
28 months ago
Helps prevent stolen iPhones from being used for repair parts.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Danfango Avatar
28 months ago

All the custom specialty tools required to repair an iPhone is only a testament to how poorly they are designed.
Actual real life qualified engineer here.

You have no idea what you are talking about.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Danfango Avatar
28 months ago

Okay "real life qualified engineer".... defend apples decision to glue a non user replaceable battery in between two slabs of glass. How is that beneficial for any consumer in any way? I'll wait.....
*Also, it's cute that you think anyone on the internet would believe your an engineer just because you post it on a forum.
Very simple. The battery is made of rolled layers of lithium covered foil and insulator. These provide a compact, flat package. The compromise is that the pack is very easy to damage if you flex it because of the layers being compressed and sliding across each other. The effect of damaging a pack is a "thermal event" as they call it in the service manual. So the key requirement is that the pack is kept stable and flat. That can be entered in the design process for the phone resulting in (most likely) the following requirements:

1. Stable mounting -> decrease thermal event risk.
2. Easy to assemble with automation -> lower TCO of manufacturing, increase throughput
3. Thinness -> smaller devices, less mass, less material cost.
4. Relative ease of replacement -> 0 to 1 times per device lifespan at average.

When you put those in, an adhesive tab strip attached to the rigid frame comes out as the best engineering solution (do a Kepner-Tregoe decision analysis or throw some Six Sigma in there if you're that way inclined).

You don't have to believe me. I mean I could upload my graduation photo but it's terribly embarrassing. Better to show me lying in a gutter in Cambridge afterwards... actually no probably not. I'm lying on a kebab.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Spock Avatar
28 months ago
Still a step in the right direction and far better than nothing. It was hard to get a hold of those repair manuals back in the day.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
frenchcamp49er Avatar
28 months ago

All the custom specialty tools required to repair an iPhone is only a testament to how poorly they are designed.
Wow. Just wow. I’m sure with your engineering and design degree you can do a better job.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Danfango Avatar
28 months ago
Actually I think I can see what this is and will break it down into a few simple statements.

1. iFixit found a market niche and promoted it as the right thing to do while selling inferior parts and equipment.
2. The manufacturer entered the same market with superior parts and equipment.
3. iFixit now has a failing business model because they got what they wanted and are switching to whining mode.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)