When our friends at iFixit did their first iPhone 13 teardown, they called the device “a new low” in terms of repairability. Apple has taken unprecedented steps to prevent “unauthorized” iPhone 13 repairs – particularly screen swaps that (inherently) break the phone’s Face ID functionality.
Replacing the screen is by far the most common method of phone repair. They’re also pretty cheap and easy to use, so, as you can imagine, they are the bread and butter of small repair shops. But if Apple doesn’t give you permission to do an iPhone 13 screen or battery replacement, you will end up with broken features or a broken phone.
And I’m not exaggerating when I say you need Apple’s “permission” to fix the iPhone 13. Its components are serialized – that is, parts such as the display and the Face ID camera can identify each other using unique serial numbers. In order for any of these serialized components to work with a donor part, an Apple Authorized Technician must sync each part to Apple’s cloud network and request approval from the company.
Not only are individuals banned from doing basic iPhone 13 repairs at home, but small repair shops must turn customers away if they bring in an iPhone 13 that they cannot buy from Apple’s secret repair kit without access to Apple’s cloud network use. (Micro-soldering is the only workaround, but the required equipment costs thousands and shouldn’t be required for screen swaps.)
Apple’s apology for locking iPhone 13 repairs is pretty simple – it’s a security measure. Your phone contains all sorts of personal and financial information and you cannot trust an unauthorized repairman to take it apart. In addition, customers who do their own repairs buy parts online from strangers. What if someone tampered with the Face ID hardware you ordered?
But if security is the big concern here, then why does Apple? turning back same anti-repair features in iPhone 12? Correctly; Thanks to a software update, the iPhone 12 did not work until three months after its release with donor parts. We were hoping Apple would do the same with the iPhone 13, but we waited three months and here we are.
It’s clear that Apple wants some control over iPhone repairs. But to take such aggressive steps to gain control is completely inappropriate. Wanted or not, Apple simply forces customers to go to “authorized” service centers for basic repairs. Many of these customers find themselves in Apple Stores where repairs cost hundreds more than they should, and small repair shops will lose money for no good reason.
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