How Apple is Turning Things Around: Right to Repair

apple mac iphone right to repair

Individual consumers will have access to genuine Apple OEM parts and instructions for DIY iPhone (and eventually Mac) repairs beginning in early 2022, when Apple’s newly announced Self Service Repair program becomes accessible. Although there are several questions about how it will be implemented, this initiative is an opportunity for Apple to improve its customers’ relationships by making repairs easier. The program could also serve as a method for customers who are interested in DIYing to save money on repairs while still allowing independent repair shops to compete.

Until recently, the ability to obtain factory OEM parts for iPhones and Macs existed only in a few select Apple-sponsored locations, such as Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASP), Apple Stores, and Apple Independent Repair Providers (IRP), a program that allows independent repair shops to access genuine Apple parts, tools, and training guides. When it comes to iPhone repairs, Apple’s new self-service program — like the IRP program before it— is limited to screen, battery, and camera replacements.

Apple has announced that it will become the major supplier of parts and instructions for iPhone 12 and 13 models early next year, promising “more than 200 distinct components and tools.” While it appears to be great given that only two iPhone versions will have component availability through self-service at launch, according to iFixit, the one-stop source for device repairs, it is rational. Apple may offer a range of adhesives, specialized hardware, individual screws, custom presses, electrostatic discharge mats, and other goods as part of its initiative.

Apple has confirmed that its service providers can get their hands on replacement parts for the batteries, which will be good news. Service providers may charge whatever they want because these components are currently accessible to Apple repair personnel. The charges for repairing an iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 Pro’s display are $279 from Apple itself. Apple’s IRP program allegedly costs around $270 per person to fill up on these displays (nearly the same as what Apple charges for the repair). According to iFixit, members of Apple’s IRP program pay about $230 to stock up on these screens if they return their old part.

Individuals who utilize the Self Service Repair option will be reimbursed for the old component, according to Apple, but it’s difficult to know how much money you might save by doing so. Based on Apple’s apparent concern for negative part returns, whatever credit offered to customers who use the self-service procedure might be enough to encourage existing part return.

After Johnson left in 2011, Apple’s policies became more stringent, with John Browett taking over as VP of Apple retail and focusing on cost cutting. That same year, Apple introduced the AppleCare+ service plan add-on for iPhones, which includes accidental damage coverage after a $49 service fee is paid. Despite the changes, other former workers have mentioned that Apple’s goal of “surprising and delighting” customers can still result in free in-store repairs. Whether or how this will change with self-service isn’t clear.

Aftermarket components may help you save money in the short term, but currently, aftermarket OLED displays for an iPhone 12 cost between $279.99 (iFixit) and $329.99 (Amazon), which is a significant investment. Finally, aftermarket parts may result in uneven quality and some components could cease to function, including Apple’s True Tone adaptive display feature. Customers may save money by Self Service Repair if Apple priced the parts similarly to what IRPs presently receive. However, unless Apple offered them a better price on parts than the self-service program, IRPs would be rejected for business.

Another option for users of the self-service software is to stock up on parts, as independent retailers in the IRP program can. Apple may choose to distinguish the IRP program and the Self-Service Repair program by not enabling customers to stock up, making it more difficult for DIY individuals planning ahead for devices they will repair in the future.

In general, people with older phones will be more likely to need repair, and right now Apple’s Self Service Repair option won’t help them. iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens says that most customers don’t need replacement batteries until after a year and a half since purchase, when battery cells begin to run down. While Wiens is pleased with Apple’s plans and direction, he thinks that the self-service initiative is primarily aimed at preempting possible FTC regulation and even shareholder pressure over the right to repair. Apple has also come under fire from lawmakers over its onerous repair procedures.

Despite its flaws, the new Apple initiative has a chance to empower more do-it-yourself repair people and possibly save money. Customers who change their mind about the purchase after receiving the kit might have another alternative: taking it to a local repair shop that doesn’t have access to genuine Apple components. That business would then charge a modest fee and complete the fix for them.

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