Why Apple doesn’t want you repairing your broken iPhone or iPad yourself

“Despite several states introducing Right to Repair legislation to help make it easier and cheaper for people to repair their broken electronic devices, companies such as Apple and Microsoft are hard at work lobbying to prevent such laws from being passed,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “So why are companies such as Apple and Microsoft so against you having the right to repair your broken devices?”

“The popular belief seems to be that the reason why companies are opposed to people being able to fix their own devices is money and greed,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “But it’s not all about money and greed.”

“Rather than looking at money in, think of money going out. Dealing with authorized repair centers that employ trained technicians is much easier and a lot less hassle than handholding Jo Public armed with a chewed up Philips screwdriver through an iPhone repair,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “There’s an old saying in the automotive trade — here’s my hourly rate, and it’s double that if you’ve already tried fixing the problem yourself.”

Kingsley-Hughes writes, “I also fully support Right to Repair legislation, but it would be good to see the narrative on why companies oppose it change from ‘greedy companies what more of your money’ into something that’s closer to the truth.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in March:

Using authorized channels is the only way to ensure you are getting genuine Apple parts and that the repair will be done to the right specifications. With so many second-hand smartphones, for example, being sold and re-sold, how are buyers to know their battery is the genuine part and that it was correctly installed? How safe are would these smartphones be to have on airplanes, for example?

Certainly it can be dangerous to mishandle/damage lithium batteries during DYI repairs and the results can injure not just the repairer.

What if somebody’s half-assed DIY battery installation burns down an apartment building at 3am or sets fire to a plane in flight? When even Samsung can’t fix their own batteries correctly, we doubt every single Joe and Jane Sixpack would be able to manage a perfect battery installation every single time. It only takes one mistake to cause a tragedy.

SEE ALSO:
Apple makes iPhone screen fixes easier as U.S. states mull ‘right to repair’ laws – June 7, 2017
Apple lobbying against ‘Right to Repair’ legislation, New York State records confirm – May 18, 2017
Apple fights against ‘right to repair’ – April 20, 2017
Apple fights ‘right to repair’ proposal; warns Nebraska could become a ‘Mecca for bad actors’ – March 10, 2017
Apple fights tooth and nail against ‘right to repair’ laws – March 8, 2017
Right to repair: Why Nebraska farmers are taking on John Deere and Apple – March 6, 2017
Right-to-Repair is ridiculous – February 16, 2017
Apple said to fight ‘Right to Repair’ legislation – February 15, 2017

25 Comments

  1. This might be true for the majority, but remember, that there is a lot of talented people out there that are perfectly capable of repairing their own devices. The Auto analogy is: Would a mechanically inclined person take their vehicle to the dealer to do a brake job, when they can save hundreds of dollars doing it themselves? I doubt it. Labor rates are very high. Parts are cheap. Nothing wrong with saving money.

    1. then how would , per say, your auto manufacturer determine if the person is mechanically inclined enough to guarantee up to spec installations and repairs? If some forbidding catastrophe occurs post this repair, who’s at fault? do you really think the “claimed” mechanically inclined person will take ownership of the responsibility? Sometimes saving money is having work done by manufacturer qualified facilities and peeps who can guarantee responsibilities of the work.

      1. This is a GREAT analogy. And I’m sure it’s been tested in the courts. My hunch is that if you screw up a repair using your own labor, YOU are responsible for damages, not the company that sold you the genuine parts. Are there any liability lawyers out there that can confirm?

        Otherwise, the major car manufacturers would simply refuse to sell parts to the public. And since I can buy virtually any car part (or part for my washing machine, vacuum cleaner or other home appliance), the idea that Apple would be liable for a home repair is laughable.

        1. As a rather accomplished mechanic and general “fix-it” guy, I like the general idea of having access to parts and schematics and repair procedures. But I want legislators to be careful in crafting the laws.

          1. I agree. It is nice to be able to tinker and fix stuff yourself. Sometimes it is stuff that is out of warranty. Years ago my daughter came home from college with a hinky MacBook Screen. It was out of warranty. Apple could not fix it except at an exorbitant cost (relatively speaking). Bought a screen replacement online and made my daughter sit beside me as we replaced the screen. She was in tears. But we got the screen replaced. All thanks to ifixit.com.

            The computer worked fine for another 2-3 years. Otherwise I would had had to buy a new computer, as the broken one would not have been worth fixing at “retail” prices. My daughter also began to understand that her computer was a sophisticated piece of electronics that should be taken care of, not thrown around.

            I was confident to attempt the screen repair because I had successfully done previous DIY tasks like add RAM, replace system batteries, etc. And I’ve replaced my iPhone battery, too. I am all for DIY for those confident enough to attempt it. Usually we do it because the warranty does not apply, anyway.

      2. I would not expect the auto manufacturers to be liable for ‘home’ repairs, if that is what you are implying. The ‘claimed’ person would obviously have to prove that the auto repair took place at the dealer or other entity, otherwise, they themselves are liable for anything that goes wrong. That is and has always been par for the course. Same thing would apply to Apple. Now, if somebody is stupid enough to try and sue Apple because they screwed up their phone, they won’t win. That is pretty much a given. The whole thing is really about people who like to fix things themselves saving a lot of money. They take the risk, and should full well know if something goes wrong, they are responsible.

    1. Certainly ownership confers *some* rights. But you fail to identify the specific owner’s rights that are being obstructed.

      Tossing out a general statement about “rights” is meaningless. People need to give very careful attention to the potential for unintended consequences if these laws are passed. Their authors had better apply a light tough and be extremely careful regarding the language. Otherwise, the results could be rather unpleasant.

      1. To point: I may be capable taking one engine out of an auto and replacing it with another. And even ending up with a driveable car. But beyond the OEM and my changes to original equipment are government regulations that may say that my auto no longer conforms. What if DIY phone repair people turn on their modified phone and eff a cell network that ends affecting hundreds of other people. Even with batteries, we’ve seen the calamities that can occur if someone pinches or squeezes these lithium packs in the wrong way. A fire on plane because Joe wanted save $20 is not something I want to contemplate.

  2. Ownership does confer rights – you can do anything you want to your device, including attempt to fix it – but Apple should not be held responsible in any way for a device that has been tampered with. Nor should they be required to design something in a way that provides access to repair.

  3. Apple money grab, pure and simple. Same as the connector games Apple plays and the obscenely priced RAM.

    Yet there will no doubt be fanboys lined up to rationalize why Apple should continue to abuse its market position.

    1. Money grab is definitely NOT a reason. It is simply ridiculous and falls flat on its face.

      Our of 200 million phones sold in one year, how many have to be sent for repair? And how much additional net profit (after paying for labour and parts) would that really bring in?

      Same for those cable adapters. How many buyers of a MacBook are actually going to bother (or need) buying that USB-C-to-VGA adapter? And out of those, how many are actually going to get one from Apple, rather than going to Monoprice and getting it cheaper? A $30 cable for a $1200 device? This is where you see a money-grab!!?

    2. It’s not a money grab. Think of it this way, if a company, let’s call them company A, sells a product. If the product continually breaks the consumers buying that product then stop buying it due to its unreliability.

      If company A allows its consumers to repair their own devices then the company effectively takes on the responsibility of that product still performing at its gauranteed conditions when the self repaired phone is resold to another party.

      In other words if you bought a used product from someone and it didn’t perform the way the company guarantees, then you blame the company; especially if you didn’t know that the person who sold it to you had repaired the device himself at some point.

      The only way a company can attempt to garauntee that all their products perform the way they say it will is to also be the ones who repair the product when they break. That’s what Apple is doing, they are trying to keep a certain level of quality assurance in their product line.

      Nissan also does something similar. The Nissan Leaf is sold to customers and at the time of sale customers sign paper work detailing that the customer is obligated to return to a Nissan dealership once a year for a maintenance check. The checkup is extremely cheap but it’s done to maintain the quailty of their electric vehicles at the standard that Nissan garauntees for a longer period of time.

      And yes a lot of people are talented and can fix it themselves perfectly fine. But there are also a lot who can’t but think that they can in order to save money. The rules have to be made for those idiots.

      As for the connector game you mentioned; I agree it’s stupid to have so many connectors, but think of it as a transitioning period to better connectors. A good example is the removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone. Currently a lot of headphones still need a jack so Apple provides a dongle to accommodate those consumers, but only because as engineers they can’t change the entire design and expect people to buy new headphones and so on overnight. They need a transitioning period in which more Bluetooth headphones are made and sold. Once Bluetooth headphones are the norm that dongle will become obsolete. The same will happen for other adapters.

  4. Warranty repairs should not be attempted by unqualified and uncertified persons, period. But for non-warranty items or damaged goods, OEM parts and service manuals should be available at reasonable prices for anyone willing to attempt the repair. Where most manufacturers tend to really ream us up the arse is for the ‘qualifications’ required of a warranty shop, along with the bare subsistence level of their reimbursements.

  5. False argument.

    There used to be jobs for people in the local community who repaired things and companies like Apple killed them off. Wouldn’t;t it be nice to have a local repair shop where skilled workers trained and expert could fix a variety of things rather than the throwaway shit common today?

    It is also about selling more stuff- I have Apple Trackpad v1 that uses batteries and I can recharge my Eneloops (what Apple rebranded and sold as their own) easily and cheaply. The new Trackpad is sealed shut and will be a throwaway item when the battery craps out. When my Eneloops go south I can easily buy more.

    Right To Repair is not so much about individuals fixing their stuff as it is the ability to get it repaired easily and at a reasonable price. In house repair services are slow and usually very costly out of warranty.

  6. To what degree do people have to be able to repair these things? Down to chip level? Does the component have to a minimum percentage of the overall value? The simple fact is that as technology gets more complicated the ability for humans to repair or even create them reduces. There is a reason that machines are used to make them rather than humans and that’s because to train someone for the level of precision involved would be incredible expensive and the result would be slow. Yes, it’s not just about individuals repairing something, but the argument still holds that at some level there will be things that are so complex that they’re not able to be repaired on any practical level.

    1. People have the right to repair their own property to any degree they feel able. Nobody can repair a faulty chip, but they should be free to replace a faulty chip if they have the microscope and soldering station. This can and does happen. Look up Louis Rossman on YouTube.

      Complexity is not the deciding factor on what can get repaired. Economic reasons determine that. Its not worth spending $400 to repair a phone that can be replaced for $300. It is worth $400 to repair a laptop that would cost $2500 to replace.

  7. I’ve long accepted that the trade off for getting so much computing power in such a tiny package means giving up a lot of DIY repairs. Which is why I always get AppleCare. It’s paid for itself several times over.

  8. There are four distinct parts in an iPhone or an iPad that are mutually registered with each other. If any one of these is replaced or even removed and re-inserted, the registration has to be redone with the other three. This is part of Apple’s iOS security system that keeps the user’s data secure. While the iOS device may still work with the replaced or re-inserted part, it will not allow upgrading at the next upgrade cycle and will just lock the device as not being a “genuine” Apple device in all of its components. Only Apple certified technicians have the equipment necessary to re-register or register these ICs with each other. Apple has not sold or licensed these pieces of equipment to non-Apple Authorized repair centers and certainly a home repair person could not do it.

    How many of you remember the Error 53 bricking of devices repaired by third party shops where the home button had been replaced along with replacement screens. That home button with its fingerprint sensor is one of those four inter-registered parts.

    This is the real reason that Apple does not want the Right to Repair Legislation passed.

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