Should you be able to repair something that you paid good money for? It seems like a no-brainer that the answer should be, yes but apple has long been notorious for making their devices very unfriendly, DIY wires who just want to replace the battery or fix a cracked screen.
Not only has self repair on an Apple device, avoided your warranty in the past, but apple intentionally designed these products to make them hard to fix at home. I mean, they've even used proprietary screws, but apple has done a face turn worthy of pro wrestling and announced their self-service repair program, which ideally will allow users to fix their iDevices at home without voiding their warranties and apple will even help customers do it. Sign me up. But how exactly is it going to work?
The idea is that if you need a repair, you can have a look at an apple official repair manual, and then order the parts you need from the Apple online store. The program which will debut in the US and roll out to other countries throughout 2022 is initially going to support the iPhone 12 and 13 with support for M1 based max coming, sometime later that year.
The online store is going to have 200+ parts and tools available for repairs on the to-support-the-iPhone lineups. So expect things like spongers and suction cups to appear alongside actual replacement parts. But what parts can you actually get and fix yourself?
There, wasn't an exhaustive list at this time, but we can tell you that apple will offer batteries, displays and cameras. So basically the parts of the phone that are most likely to get damaged or worn out during regular use with the exception of the lightening ports, which makes sense, especially as there has been a whole cottage industry around replacing broken and worn out iPhone screens and batteries for quite some time. Apple will also give you a credit towards the repair kits, if you return your old part for recycling, sounds like a pretty good deal to me, but what are the caveats, and why did apple decide to change their mind on self-repair after all these years?
So what's the catch apple? The really big elephant in the room is exactly how much all of this will cost. Apple is notorious for charging handsome, sums to both buy their products and repair them later, and they're still encouraging most consumers to have their repairs handled by a professional anyway. So don't discount the possibility that Apple's pricing might push customers towards having apple do the job anyway, especially once you factor in the time, effort and risk involved in attempting a DIY fix.
And although apple relented recently on allowing third-party repair shops to obtain official apple tools and parts, something it did not permit for a long time, I must add. It hasn't always been clear which of these shops was authorized as apple doesn't provide a list and some independent shops that've even refused to join Apple's official authorization scheme as they believe the terms of Apple's contract were unreasonable.
Combine that with Apple's history of crippling phone features, if a user performs self repair, and it's pretty clear that apple hasn't exactly had the best track record of making things easy for folks who don't want to go through apple itself for repair job. But the hope is, this time, things will be different. Apple clearly isn't doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts though, as the company is feeling mounting pressure from several governments to give electronics consumers, our right to repair the gadgets, they already own.
Starting this program might help apple get ahead of the ire of regulators if right-to-repair laws do get passed, but it remains to be seen just how accessible it will be to the average iPhone user and if the company will end up supporting older products.