What Apple’s new repair program means for you (and your iPhone)

Written by Brian X Chenow

Apple on Wednesday made an early holiday gift for the eco-conscious and do-it-yourselfers: It said it will soon start selling parts, tools and instructions for people to repair their own iPhones.

It was a major victory for the “right to repair” movement, which has demanded that tech manufacturers provide customers with the components and manuals they need to fix their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others have long fought over proposed legislation that would make such repair resources publicly available. But the movement gained momentum this summer when the Federal Trade Commission announced it would speed up law enforcement against tech companies that have made it difficult to fix their gadgets.

For decades, the idea that people could maintain their consumer electronics has been impractical. Genuine parts were difficult to obtain, and repairs could be expensive and intimidating. When phones and computers broke down, buying a new one was the easiest option.

Now Apple’s self-repair program is a sign that the tech industry may finally be warming to making maintenance part of the experience of owning a gadget.

“It’s a win for repair shops, it’s a win for consumers, and it’s a win for the planet,” said Nathan Proctor, director of the US Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization that works on “rights to repair.” is a victory.” Legislation.

Here’s what it means for you.

What’s the point of Apple’s program on what I can do with my broken iPhone?

Beginning next year, Apple said, people can use an online store to order parts and tools to repair its new products, including the iPhone 12 and 13 and recent Mac computers. Customers who send their broken parts to Apple will receive credit for the purchase of the new part.

The program will focus on the most common items that require fixing, such as screens, batteries and cameras, before expanding into other types of components.

The company has not yet published a list of costs for the parts, but it said prices for consumers will be what authorized repair shops have paid. Currently, a replacement iPhone 12 screen costs an authorized shop around $234 after a broken screen is traded in. At an Apple Store, an out-of-warranty iPhone 12 screen repair costs about $280.

“Greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more options when they need repairs,” Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams said in a statement.

Why is this such a big deal?

In short, you will have more options to fix the iPhone, which can reduce your cost.

Previously, it was easiest to go to an Apple Store to get an iPhone repaired. But just as taking your car to a dealer for servicing isn’t the cheapest option, going to an Apple Store wasn’t the most cost-effective either.

The alternative was to take your iPhone to a third party for repair, potentially for a more competitive price. When I took a broken iPhone XS screen to an Apple Store this year, I was quoted $280 for repair, compared to $180 from an independent outlet.

Yet Apple is making iPhone repairs increasingly difficult for third-party shops, said Kyle Weins, CEO of iFixit, a company that sells parts and publishes instructions for consumers to repair their electronics.

Even when genuine parts were used, some repairs could only be certified with Apple’s software tools, which were not available to the public. Apple provided those software equipment only to its employees and authorized repair shops who signed a contract and agreed to purchase parts only from the company. These authorized shops were likely to charge higher prices than the unauthorized ones.

Apple’s new program opens more doors. You can try to repair your device yourself to save cash. Or you can buy the parts from Apple and take them to someone else to get them repaired.

All this can encourage people to make their products last longer and maintain them at the same time as doing regular maintenance on the car. This has implications for reducing technology waste and helping the environment.

What if I don’t have an Apple product?

Apple was historically one of the most vocal opponents of the “rights to repair” movement. The company cited security risks – such as customer data being hijacked during unauthorized repairs – as the primary reason for keeping parts and instructions out of public access.

For non-Apple customers, this news is thus important. If Apple, one of the world’s most valuable public companies, is setting a new standard with repairs, you can expect other tech makers to follow — especially if they want to avoid fines from the federal government.

“This announcement marks significant progress toward securing our right to repair, and we are proud of Apple for this bold step,” Venus said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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