Announced at the end of 2021, the Apple Self Service Repair program, which allows iPhone owners to perform certain repairs on their device using official products and tools, is officially launched in the United States. And iFixit, cantor of the right to repair, is as complimentary as it is mixed on the service.
Since this week, US iPhone owners can carry out the “official” repair of their damaged device themselves. Apple has kicked off its program Apple Self Service Repair announced last November. For the moment, it is only available across the Atlantic.
On a dedicated online site, this service allows everyone to order official parts for an iPhone 12, iPhone 13 or iPhone SE (3rd generation) and the tool kit to carry out the repair yourself. Subsequently, it will also apply to MacBooks and other countries can enjoy it. Obviously, this requires a certain knowledge and a certain dexterity to carry out some manipulations which can prove to be complex. But it has at least the merit of existing for the most experienced (daring?).
A good idea, but there is a “problem”…
Apple Self Service Repair then allows you to change the screen, speaker, taptic engine, battery or camera with official parts and using tools usually reserved for authorized repairers. Manuals are also provided to carry out everything in the rules of the art according to Apple.
On paper, everything seems to be going well in the best of repair worlds. It is therefore very logical that iFixit, a repair specialist, has looked into the subject. In a long blog post, Elizabeth Chamberlain, head of sustainability at iFixit, gives her take on things. If she welcomes the initiative, she is nevertheless skeptical on many points and underlines “a problem”.
“Tut allowing more people to do repairs is great news “, she wrote, thinking” enthusiasticby Apple’s program with its seven-year parts availability, retail tools, and free detailed repair manuals. But she adds, however:We are disappointed and we return to our usual skepticism. »
Why is that ? Because Apple imposes in particular to have a serial number or IMEI of its device to be able to obtain the parts and tools (which is also essential to have the parts adapted to the iPhone…). Because Apple also only allows “very limited” repairs, according to the site. If you are using unofficial parts on your iPhone, then you might be exposed to an error message. “This strategy hampers third-party repair with feature-loss and scare tactics, and it could significantly limit options for recyclers and refurbishers, short-circuiting the circular economy.“, invokes Elizabeth Chamberlain.
What about refurbishers?
iFixit notably criticizes Apple for wanting to remain in a vacuum, with its own spare parts, its own tools and its own manuals, while asking for guarantees throughout on the ownership – or at least on the origin – of your iPhone. . Because at the end of the repairs carried out, it is then necessary, via Apple software, to validate everything for the announced smartphone, which puts for iFixit “an expiration date on the iPhone” and leaves the possibility for the brand to “block even more repairs in the future. »And to add: “Buildingtechnology to easily provide individual repairs makes Apple the gateway to approve or deny any future repairs, with parts from any source. »
But it is especially the reconditioners who risk being penalized, according to them. “When a refurbisher gets a working phone without parts support, there will be no way for them to fully restore a product in need of screen replacement, even if they have an original Apple screen from another phone“, she concludes. It is also fair game, and on the whole logical knowing the firm, to see Tim Cook and his people wanting to padlock their repair service a little while wanting to keep everything in their lap.
iFixit sees this as a breach of the right to repair that the company pushes with all its might and which would then serve repair shops… even those not approved by Apple and it is undoubtedly the safeguard that has put the firm to avoid any deviation from its program.
With nevertheless a touch of perceptible irony, iFixit says it is “happy” to see Apple making its repair manuals and tools available to everyone, even for rental, but also that the firm recovers the damaged parts, subject to compensation from the user. However, that’s still not enough for iFixit.
Between the lines, we can also understand that iFixit does not necessarily see Apple’s operation very favorably. The site is packed with repair tips for far more devices than Apple does for its own lineup. But he also sells iPhone parts and the tools to repair them, and does not fail to point out that everything is less expensive on iFixit than on the side of the Apple brand. However, this is one more official competition. Even at a higher price and talking to experts, Apple’s persuasiveness is still a heck of a mountain to climb. And inevitably, that must not have thrilled the great champion of repair…
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