The long-sought consumer “right to repair” will finally arrive from Apple, but only for iPhone 12 and 13, and you have to buy the tools from them.
Who among us has not violated our smartphone Terms and Conditions by getting a cracked screen fixed at some shopping mall kiosk or unauthorized little repair shop? The manufacturer can technically brick your phone if you do this, and it’s an insane practice considering we’re now paying more than $1,000 for these devices. Moreover, the practice has spread to the smart car and Tesla sector, with consumers being wildly overcharged by tech companies running monopoly repair rackets.
Consumer advocates have been squawking about this for years, and the Biden administration’s Federal Trade Commission has been vowing to force the “right to repair” through legislation. Apple seems eager to get ahead of this, and establish the right to repair on their own terms. The Associated Press reports that Apple will allow you to repair your own devices — but only some devices.
Let’s take a careful look at Apple’s right to repair announcement: “Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022.”
Okay, so it’s only for the most expensive and recently purchased devices. And even then, there are more limitations.
“The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera,” the announcement clarifies. “The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.”
Busted lightning port? Not eligible!
And that shopping mall kiosk or unauthorized little repair shop cannot perform the repair, as reflected in the fine print. “To ensure a customer can safely perform a repair, it’s important they first review the Repair Manual,” the fine print says. “Then a customer will place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store. Following the repair, customers who return their used part for recycling will receive credit toward their purchase.”
This is a first baby-step in the right direction. But this is also clearly an upsell strategy to promote buying new devices, as an iPhone 11 or older is not eligible, Plus it’s a new revenue stream for Apple.
As Jalponik observes, “maybe Apple saw an opening in a relatively small but likely still lucrative market, where it can cut out the middleman for device repairs.”