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Apple’s limited repair commitments frustrate independent repairers

Apple’s limited repair commitments frustrate independent repairers

Apple’s limited repair commitments frustrate independent repairers

Apple has won praise for making the iPhone 14 more repairable compared to its predecessors, but the question remains as to who can make these repairs. It appears that the company has added an extra layer of friction that seems unnecessary to the process of replacing the broken screen. Many As in 2019Even original Apple screens are causing repaired iPhones to malfunction. Sources in the third-party repair community, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, say that while ripping off the iPhone 14 might be easier, getting it to work properly afterwards is much more difficult.

Our sources report that the new issue centers on the iPhone 14’s Always On Display (AOD), which uses the phone’s two ambient light sensors (ALS) to calibrate screen brightness. In order to preserve battery life, when the phone is at night or in your pocket, the screen will turn off, which will automatically increase the brightness. If your display fails, and you don’t use an Apple authorized service center to replace it, however, ALS turns off, leaving the screen permanently black unless you remember the position of the slider, after which you’ll be stuck adjusting the brightness manually.

(The ambient light sensor has been a problem on previous iPhone versions, right down to where its controller is. On the iPhone 12, for example, it was mounted to a sensor that would bend itself to mechanical failure. On 13, it was installed and moved to a component assembly New, which reduces the risk of it getting broken unexpectedly.Our source says the iPhone 14 sensor is in a similar location, so any malfunction must be a software-related issue.)

YouTuber Hugh Jefferys posted a video about the issue, in which he swaps the logic board between two new iPhones (both for 14 and 14 Pro). Despite the fact that every component is new and made by Apple, phones have erupted in a chorus of error messages and broken features. FaceID, Battery Health, True Tone, and Auto Brightness are disabled, as well as the front cameras. When Jeffreys swapped it out again, the problems persisted, and the phones were only “fixed” after downgrading to iOS 16.0.

The reason for this failure is Apple’s policy of “pairing parts,” which connects individual components to the phones that carry them. A screen – a commonly broken part – will have a unique identifier registered to its device that the iPhone will verify whenever it is turned on. As far as the phone is concerned, it will only work properly if it has its ‘own’ display, and if it is not detected, it will not. Users will instead see a file Urge them to go to their local Apple Support technician. These messages will eventually stop, but your device will be flagged as hosting unauthorized components.

The only way to prevent this is for an Apple-certified technician to manually penalize the pairing with an internal software tool. Our source said that this process requires a technician to connect to Apple’s private online network, a process that the company keeps “under lock and key.” Until the iPhone 13, there was a workaround for this through third party repair shops using dedicated EEPROM programmers. These devices will read the Part ID code from the paired screen and write it to the replacement, which is often an original, refurbished Apple-made screen. Unfortunately, while this worked on previous iPhones, it does not address iPhone 14 issues.

The result is that repair shops outside of Apple’s own network will soon be left unable to perform repairs on any new iPhones. However, the costs of joining the Apple network are high enough that many companies have other ideas about doing so. “The Independent Reform Program (IRP) is not profitable enough, as an independent reformer, to maintain it as a retail operation,” said one individual, who asked not to be named.

Apple has always been resistant to the idea that users should be able to repair their own equipment. Anti-Right to Repair groups have supported and are trying to keep all repairs within their service process. This has led to cases where Apple has significantly overcharged for basic repairs that do not require sending a device away for service. The most famous example, as I mentioned That was when Genius Bar moved $1,200 for a third-party shop repair for $75.

Apple withholds repair manuals and replacement parts from third-party stores, despite the volume of iPhones that require basic repairs, like screen and battery replacement. Instead, the only non-Apple groups that can repair iPhones are Authorized Service Providers (ASPs) where Apple can exercise some control. The company’s critics say that getting rid of third parties who can do simple repairs and forcing people to return to the Genius Bar helps turn a good profit. Apple denies this, telling Since 2009, “the costs of providing repair services have exceeded the revenues generated by repairs.” Although Apple hasn’t made it clear if that constitutes its entirety of repairs, or just those under warranty.

But the company, through a combination of organized lobbying and activists, had to loosen its grip on the reforms. In 2019, she said she would allow To become an ‘investigator’, enabling her to receive the same tools, parts, and manuals as her ASP. The process later expanded this software to repair Mac as well as for iPhone (and iPad). On November 17, 2021, the company announced the release of It will provide tools, parts and manuals to users.

This process, however, is also detailed in depth before , revealed that enabling a user to repair their iPhone screen as per Apple terms was not so easy. The company delivered more than 79 pounds of tools, including a hot plate to melt glue to hold the screen in place. If that wasn’t bad enough, the fix won’t be validated until the iPhone is connected to Apple’s own service team, who can then set the new part as legitimate. And in order to do so, the user has to deposit $1,200 to guarantee that the tools will be returned within seven days.

The end result of this is that consumers have to pay a much higher price to keep their iPhone working than they should or could do. In one example, a third-party store using original Apple screens charges around £140 ($157) to repair an iPhone 11 screen, while the same repair at an Apple authorized store would cost around £220 ($247). Compare that to Replacements, made by third-party companies, are priced at £95 (US$106).

Jason Eccles is the general manager of SimplyFixIt, a chain of independent repair shops across Scotland. “The idea that someone can buy a device outright, but the manufacturer can still control its functionality for years to come, is amazing,” he said. “It’s frustrating for us, because we want to provide the best possible fix, but Apple seems to have random rules about what we can do, sometimes creating new issues with iOS updates.” Eccles has no problem with iOS devices knowing that they have been fixed with aftermarket parts. “It’s good for consumers to have relevant information in iOS that a component has been replaced, but I think it’s hard to say that reducing phone functionality, even if we use original parts, is good for customers.”

Eccles added that overhauling existing equipment is just as important from a sustainability perspective as anything else. He said, “We still regularly repair our ten-year-old MacBooks and iMacs, and it shows that a lot of Apple devices are out there that can be used perfectly after a simple repair.” Not to mention, responsible independent repair technicians should be welcomed by Apple with open arms. “If everyone had to pay £349 ($403) for a new screen, there would be a lot of people switching to Android for their next phone. Apple might not want to admit it, but we are helping people stay in their ecosystem.

iFixit tested the issue and confirmed it to Engadget, saying that there was an issue with the always-on display. The practice of using software locks is “a pernicious threat to repair as we know it,” said Liz Chamberlain, director of sustainability at iFixit. And that this new problem is even more evidence of the fact that “repairability requires the ability to access software locks, not just hardware.” She added that Apple, whether by accident or intent, “has proven it [it] They can’t be trusted with an automatic kill switch to pair parts.” Unless lawmakers step in to ensure a federally protected right to repair, there’s a chance Apple could “disable all phones that have undergone independent repairs.”

Engadget has contacted Apple for comment on the story but no comment had been provided by the time of publication.

If there is hope, it is pushing right-to-reform legislation on both sides of the Atlantic to make solid progress. Earlier this year, President Biden It was a common problem that a person owns a product, but “doesn’t have the freedom to choose how and where to repair [it.]The Federal Trade Commission recently which sees major manufacturers – including Harley Davidson – from using warranty provisions to prevent owners from seeking independent repair of their products.

And the European Union, which is currently taking the lead on many elements of technological regulation, is also looking at a better right to reform provisions. that it ““This initiative is now still in its infancy, but will focus on establishing rules to ensure that devices sold there are more repairable. A key item in the first draft is to provide “appropriate information to users, repairers and recyclers” (paragraph 4). These requirements are designed to enable “Repairs by end users” (paragraph 15), which Apple allows, but does not make easy. We can only hope that, when these rules are agreed, the balance of power will swing back towards user reform.

All products recommended by Engadget are handpicked by our editorial team, independently of the parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publication.



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