Apple has responded to years of growing pressure over its tight control over repairs and access to genuine spare parts, with a notable announcement.
With the right to repair movement gathering momentum in recent months, Apple surprised many with the announcement that it plans to give technically-minded customers the ability to repair their own devices.
It comes after Apple last week responded to a problem identified by teardown and repair specialist iFixit. It found that when a third party repairer replaced a iPhone 13 screen, it would break the Face ID system (used to unlock iPhones), unless the repairer also moved (with great difficulty) a tiny control chip from the original screen to the new screen.
Apple promised to issue a patch to resolve this, but gave no timeframes.
Now Apple has announced its ‘Self Service Repair’, which it said “will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools.”
This scheme is available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 portfolios, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips.
Apple’s Self Service Repair scheme will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022.
Apple pointed out that this scheme will allow customers to join 5,000 Apple Authorised Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.
The iPhone giant said the initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera.
The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.
“Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
“In the past three years, Apple has nearly doubled the number of service locations with access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and training, and now we’re providing an option for those who wish to complete their own repairs,” said Williams.
Apple said that it will continue to offer its repair services “by trained technicians using Apple genuine parts at thousands of locations, including Apple (in-store or by mail), AASPs, Independent Repair Providers, and now product owners who are capable of performing repairs themselves.”
That said, customers will first be required to read Apple’s Repair Manual, before they place an order for the Apple genuine parts and tools using the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store.
After the repair is completed, customers who return used parts for recycling will receive credit toward a purchase.
At its launch, the new Apple Self Service Repair Online Store will apparently offer more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers to complete the most common repairs on iPhone 12 and iPhone 13.
“Self Service Repair is intended for individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices,” cautioned Apple.
“For the vast majority of customers, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair,” it concluded.
It is fair to say that Apple unfortunately has had a bit of a reputation regarding repairs by third parties over the years.
But pressure it seems can sometimes result in change.
In August 2019 for example, Apple confirmed it would, for the first time ever, supply genuine parts to independent repair shops.
Then last month the US Copyright Office waded into the right to repair movement, that is now being supported by the US President Joe Biden.
The US Copyright Office said it was expanding a legal shield for fixing digital devices, including cars and medical devices.
It comes after the office submitted new exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which bans breaking software copy protection.
And other countries are also expanding right to repair regulations.
In July the UK government introduced new legislation which obliges manufacturers to make spare parts available to consumers so appliances can be fixed.
The European Parliament has also voted in favour of establishing stronger “right to repair” laws that will ensure that goods can be repaired for up to 10 years, in order to to reduce electrical waste.
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