18/11/2021

Apple Self Repair Service: Will They Do it Right?

In November 2021 Apple announced the launch of the Self Service Repair program with plans to roll it our in 2022 in the US and expanding into other countries later that year. Is the long fought battle over Right to Repair coming to an end? That’s definitely something every repair advocate is thinking right now, but while it’s a bit early to celebrate victory, it is undoubtedly a fantastic first step from Apple and it is going to be a brilliant initiative if Apple do it right.

From April 2022 the Self Repair service is available in the US and in the rollout press release, Apple has shared crucial details how the program will work. The repairs under the program can be performed on three of the latest iPhone generations: iPhone 12, iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (2022). Apple offers downloadable manuals for the abovementioned devices with step by step instructions and listed tools necessary to perform the repair. Parts can be purchased on a dedicated website where necessary tools are available as well for purchase or more bulky equipment can be rented out. To start, repair types that are included in the program are:

  • battery replacement
  • display
  • rear camera
  • bottom speaker
  • Taptic Engine
  • SIM tray

For the time being repair types are limited to the above and don't include repair of the back glass or USB-C ports, but it is likely the types of repairs will expand as the program develops.

Self Service Repair: What Do We Want to See?

Sensible Pricing

We are yet to find out how much the parts and tools will cost in the UK and given the way Apple prices its products and accessories (£20 for an Apple™ cleaning cloth!), we shouldn’t expect this service to be cheap, but in order to be a viable option over buying new, Apple has to have a favourable pricing strategy.

For the US rollout Apple said that prices are the same at which athorised repair providers buy the parts. For example, a battery repair bundle (battery, screw kits and adhesive) costs $70.99. If the replaced battery is returned to Apple for recycling, a discount in a form of a store credit for $24.15 will be applied. That's a 34 percent reduction in the total cost for the bundle and a great ecouragement to recycle.

The other thing to consider is the ability for consumers to purchase individual parts only instead of bundled kits. Understanding the skill level of the repairer, or the willingness to try should dictate the products available to the user. Someone might only be comfortable with replacing the whole display with its enclosure, whereas someone might be able to safely replace just the broken glass layer, the difference in price/resources/emissions would be measurable and should be encouraged.

Helpful Manuals

Apple said that before starting a self repair, customers should review the repair manuals. While written manuals are available for download, if Apple aims for this program to be successful and indeed prolong the useful life of its iPhones and reduce waste, manuals should be free from complex language, with images of tools listed against every tool and be available in video format. We love the videos from iFixit that should form some sort of starting point for Apple.

Failed Self Service Repair

Ideally, if it happens that a self service repair fails, consumers would still be able to bring the iPhone in for a specialist repair and if the iPhone is still in warranty, self repair wouldn’t void it. Apple hasn't shared any details on what happens in this situation, but the repair can be continued through other Apple repair options.

Availability For Older iPhones

At the beginning, eligible iPhones for self repair are the iPhone 12 and 13. Given the fact that even in 2021 people carry on using iPhones released in 2018, it would be beneficial for Apple to include older generation iPhones into the program. And what will happen at the end of support for the iPhone 12 - 13 models, or will repairs be continually available?

Sourcing Parts

Apple disclosed that US consumers will be able to purchase parts needed from the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store (likely to be a separate website for each region). To complete the purchase of the parts you need to register and provide the IMEI number of the iPhone you're repairing. What interests us is this: are consumers going to be free to buy spare OEM parts from other retailers and be able to authenticate parts to their iPhone through Apple's support? Which in reality should be the case since this program is Apple’s answer to Right to Repair.

Photo created by bublikhaus

Common Fixes

Batteries degrade, displays and camera modules break, but so do speakers and charging ports. Apple mentioned that the program will cover common fixes and we hope Apple is going to be granular with parts allowing UK consumers to replace what needs replacing without limitations to only specific fixes.

More Repair-Friendly Future iPhones

At the moment iPhones are hard to repair which is due to various factors - software rendering parts and functions unusable, design, glued in batteries and much more. If Apple are to do the Self Service Repair right, future iPhone releases need to be built with repairability in mind and perhaps Apple will start to include screwdrivers in retail boxes together with some spare screws for free.

While we wait for the official roll out of the program in the UK, we will be keeping a close eye on the details of the service, but as it seems so far it’s a great starting point for making iPhones more sustainable.

Cover photo from Apple.com

Antonia

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