Apple working on top secret asymmetric screw to prevent users from getting into devices

“Self-repairability is often an aspect of Apple’s modern product design that gets Cupertino blasted by critics, with the Retina MacBook Pro being deemed “the least repairable laptop yet” by repair experts iFixIt,” John Brownlee reports for Cult of Mac.

“But if the leaked image above of a next-generation assymetric screw Apple is reportedly working on is to be believed, things are about to get a lot worse for Mac and iDevice owners who like to tinker with their devices,” Brownlee reports. “The image above was posted to Reddit from a throwaway account (i.e. an account specifically created to be used only once to share sensitive material and therefore hard to trace) and supposedly comes from within Cupertino’s design department.”

Brownlee reports, “The image details a render of new screw that Apple is reportedly working on with a ‘totally asymmetric design’ that ‘no known tools’ can be used to unscrew… This new asymmetric screw, if ever rolled out, looks like it could be a harder nut to crack. To our untrained eyes, in fact, the asymmetric design seems unique enough that Apple could patent it, preventing third-parties from selling their own drivers legally.””

Apple assymetric screw

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

53 Comments

  1. Cool! It’s the rainbow pinwheel screwhead. Even if it were patented, Apple would not waste their time suing some little Chinese mfr, selling $2 screwdrivers to about 1000 repair shops and hobbyists.

  2. Considering that the iPhone that “critically overheated” (just short of catching fire) on an aircraft was caused by a botched battery replacement by an unauthorized 3rd party repair facility, I can see their motivation, those facilities who truly learn how and are authorized to make repairs will no doubt be able to open them, those that don’t, won’t.

    1. For 17 years I owned a telecommunications repair business with multiple offices in the US, Mexico and China. You’d be surprised at the quantity of circuit boards, power supplies and digital telephones sent in for repair that had been “repaired” by an untrained person. Solder joints were globs of material, surface mounted ICs were literally scrapped off (with attempt to hand solder replacement), etc. Apple is very smart in attempting to curtail idiots from getting inside their product – for any reason. iPads, iPhones, even Macs, are not like the computers of old – thank gawd.

    1. Yeah, you simply don’t “DIY” a device that is as tiny, critically fitted, complex and carries enough stored energy to set it’s self and anything around it on file.

      Cheapskates (like the one that almost caused a fire on an aircraft in flight) who don’t want to pay what it costs to get a battery or screen replaced could be endangering not only them selves but any one with the misfortune to be in a confined space with them (elevator, plane, etc)

  3. Making a screw that can’t open is smart but I have to wonder that if someone really wanted to get inside the phone they would just break it open. They would be left with a broken iPhone but there are people out there that are desperate enough to do something like that.

  4. Anything that can be screwed can be unscrewed- it’s just a matter of difficulty.
    The real question is why is Apple so anal retentive about secrecy and security? Given the unending ripoffs from Microsoft & Google (SW) and the Fandroid Consortium/Cabal (SW & HW), we can see that it has not stopped a damn thing.

    What is has accomplished is the pissing of of longtime customers and driven up the price of maintaining our devices. I’m tired of the unyielding quest for form over function.

      1. Ever upgrade? My 2006 MacBook, I upgraded both RAM and hard drive.

        I get making it hard to open iDevices, thin laptops is borderline acceptable. You can’t ever upgrade an Air or Retina without going to Apple (and since MBA and MBRet parts are glued/soldered in, an “upgrade” probably consists of a completely different computer, so you’ll have to restore from a Time Machine backup when you get home).

        If the 2012 13″ MBP had been un-upgradable I would not have bought it. In a couple years I will replace its hard drive with an SSD drive after they’ve come down in price. You can bet I didn’t have higher-capacity hard drive or extra RAM added to my MBP order.

  5. I guess if you are a DIY, time to move on, build the old Hackintosh or go Linux the other Nix system. Otherwise, well I guess nothing. Unless you are a DIY, you are already or SHOULD be going to the Apple Store to get this kind of stuff done.

    1. like getting more Ram?
      Apple upgrade from 4->8GB on a MBP 13=$100 (At time of order)
      DIY upgrade from 4->8GB MBP 13=under $50

      AND you get to KEEP the 4GB. sell online for $20-25 (i did) and ultimately pay $25 or so.

      HD same MBP 13
      $100 to upgrade to a 5400rpm 750gb drive. (lose the 500gb drive)
      $135 to get a 750GB hybrid momentus that is almost as fast as a pure SSD. and keep the 500GB drive.

      both done in 5-10 minutes depending on how DIY you are.

      and those screws… will stop the joe blow random idiots. it will not stop smart people. that new screwdriver needed will be on the market for repair pro’s in a month.

      Between myself and my Dad, we own damn near every “special” screwdriver/bit/tool on the market… there is nothing we can’t open. I even have some Yamaha/Triumph tools that you can’t buy anywhere outside the Factory, just to open some “non-servicable” parts on Yamaha bikes.

  6. This could be a liquid metal screw head. It makes it a little harder to open. But, I can think of several ways to manufacture an adapter to unscrew those.

    The issue is really, why does Apple think we do not have the right to open something that we own and purchased from them? Apple needs to put their R&D teams back to work developing new devices and enhancing the existing products. If your car tire had lug nuts that you could not remove when you get a flat, would you be a little pissed about it? I would!

    1. Since we only “license” the software that makes any of our devices usable and don’t “own” it, maybe Apple is moving to a future where we don’t “own” the hardware either, but only “license” (lease) it.

      Hmmm… I really meant this as a snarky reply, but the more I think about, the more sense it’s beginning to make. Especially since taking into account that Apple tends to make long range plans.

      It would explain a lot about why Apple is doing these sort of things. More so than some of the lame ass excuses Apple apologists (and Apple on occasion) have come up… like any so-called “design” considerations.

      Think of the number of people who lease cars these days. Why most car commercials I see these days only mention leasing and say noting about actually buying a car.

      Would you “lease” an Apple device for a monthly fee? What if it came with a free replacement in case of accidental damage? Or allowed you to “upgrade” to new hardware for a nominal fee at the end of your lease?

    1. Two hours between the introduction of this on a piece of hardware and the availability of a kit from iFixIt with the correct bit and the right number of standard Phillips=head screws. It would be a goofy move on Apple’s part.

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