Apple promised us a repair program, where the hell is it? – Geek Review

An iPhone with a broken back glass.
Sergey Yeremin/

Customers and reviewers praised Apple when it announced Self Service Repair, a program that gives you access to genuine parts and repair guides for your Apple products. But Apple hasn’t mentioned the program since late last year, and it’s supposed to launch in “early 2022.” What’s wrong, Apple? Don’t want to brag about “customer choice” anymore?

Self-service repair: to come… eventually!

Apple, FreedomLife/Shutterstock

The idea behind Self Service Repair is quite simple. Instead of buying unofficial parts or visiting expensive “authorized” repair technicians, customers can simply purchase parts for the iPhone, Mac, iPad or Apple Watch from the website. from Apple. Self Service Repair will also provide official repair guides to customers, as well as a recycling and refund service for broken parts that you send back to the company.

When Apple announced self-service repair last November, it claimed the program would launch in early 2022. But Apple fell silent. We’re almost halfway through the year and haven’t heard any new information about self-service repair or its planned launch date.

This lack of transparency is frustrating to say the least. Self-service repair isn’t just a popular idea; it’s also something that benefits the environment and has an immediate impact on customers’ wallets. Should we wait for this program to launch or should we just assume that Apple is giving up on the idea?

Hoping to get some insight, we spoke with iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. He made the following comment, which is both hilarious and correct:

“Apple’s parts program is starting to remind us of AirPower.”

Yeah, you can’t argue with that! Much like self-service repair, the AirPower Charging Mat generated a ton of excitement when it was revealed by Apple. But the company did not release the product in a timely manner or explain the delay to customers.

Ultimately, AirPower was canceled because it didn’t meet Apple’s “quality standards,” which makes sense, since the technology for such a product doesn’t yet exist. But self-service repair is extremely easy and shouldn’t be difficult for Apple. It’s just a showcase for things that Apple already makes.

Even if Apple faces supply shortages, which could impact the availability of spare parts, that’s no excuse for a lack of transparency. In addition, the company could publish the repair manuals that are already available to its technicians. (I should note that Apple is supposedly running self-service repair through a third party, which may be the source of the problem.)

To be fair, self-service repair isn’t an ideal solution.

The iPad Mini 6 with iFixit's X-ray wallpaper.
I fix it

We would really like to see Apple introduce self-service repair, as it will significantly improve the experience of Apple products for some users. But here’s the thing; Self-service repair is not the best solution for customers who want to repair their Apple products at home. This program still gives Apple full control over all part of the repair process—and I’m not just talking about price.

Apple likes to use “serialized” parts in its products. An iPhone can tell if you’ve swapped its Face ID hardware, for example, and it can reject the spare in the name of “security”.

Authorized repairers work around this problem using proprietary Apple software. And while Self Service Repair customers will also have access to this software, it will only work with parts purchased directly from the company.

Customers cannot use this software with donor parts from old or broken phones, in other words; Apple is intentionally stomping on the cheapest and greenest way to repair devices. Apple claims that this lock improves “device security”, but I’ve yet to see a good explanation of what that even means. Also, competitors like Google offer calibration software for free, and they don’t seem to have any issues!

The solution here, assuming Apple actually cares about repairability or the environment, is pretty straightforward. Apple should give up its control over product repairs. This means providing parts, software and repair guides to customers through easily accessible outlets instead of a proprietary repair program. You know what Google, Samsung, Microsoft and even Valve are doing with iFixit!

If Apple really cares, it should team up with iFixit

An open 14-inch MacBook Pro (2021 model) with the iFixit logo.
I fix it

Several companies and foundations specialize in product repair. But iFixit is the biggest name in smartphone and laptop repair – it’s a trusted source for professionals and the press, it’s the center of an enthusiastic community, it has an efficient business model and , of course, it already works with Apple’s biggest competitors.

Several major tech brands, including Microsoft, Valve, Samsung, and even Google, work with iFixit to sell genuine parts directly to customers. Additionally, iFixit is bolstering its selection of repair guides to take advantage of these partnerships. Even though these brands are just looking for advertising, their work with iFixit dramatically improves the customer experience.

But Apple decided to create its own DIY repair service. This is a bit ironic, for several reasons. Not only is iFixit the best destination for Apple repair guides, but the company was founded because of a broken iBook. Additionally, Apple retains hiding iFixit products in its launch events! If Apple employees respect iFixit, why don’t they just work with the company?

I won’t bother to speculate on this subject, but I will mention two things that come to mind. First of all, Apple likes to have full control over its products. The brand rarely hesitates in this regard, even when it comes under intense scrutiny from critics or lawmakers.

Second, iFixit regularly releases “repairability scores” for new products. These scores tell you if a device is easy to repair, and despite iFixit’s partnerships with Samsung and Microsoft, it continues to post unflattering scores for the companies’ products. Apple tends to get really bad scores, by the way.

Clearly, we still need right to repair legislation

Apple, Freedom Life/Shutterstock

From a legal point of view, you can open a phone or a laptop without any consequences. But manufacturers, especially smartphone and vehicle makers, have knowingly made product repairs difficult through software design, engineering, warranties, authorized repair programs, and unavailability of parts. replacement.

Right to repair legislation aims to address this problem. Such laws would require manufacturers to offer replacement parts, repair materials and tools to consumers. Not necessarily for free, mind you, people just want the chance to fix their stuff.

Lawmakers around the world know the right to repair is popular, as a recent lawsuit against John Deere pushed the idea into the mainstream. The US Senate is currently discussing a Fair Repair Act, which could address the concerns of right-to-repair proponents. Notably, the Fair Repair Act appears to have bipartisan support.

While it’s nice to see manufacturers dipping their toes into repair programs, it’s clear they won’t take this seriously without legal or economic pressure. If we could boycott cars or phones, the latter option might be a great choice. But right-to-repair legislation appears to be the only realistic route to universal device repairability, which will benefit the environment and consumer bank accounts.


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