Apple said it’s now allowing customers to do their own repairs on their iPhones in the US, and soon on Mac computers too, reversing a policy in which unauthorized tinkering voided the company’s product warranty.
Apple’s self service repair option, which was rolled out in the US on Wednesday, will expand to additional countries—beginning in Europe—later this year. It follows moves by Google and Samsung to allow a bit of MacGyvering by consumers, and puts wind in the sails of the right to repair movement. Its supporters argue that when brands limit who can do repairs it drives up consumer costs and generates more waste as people opt to discard than fix. In March, a bill was submitted to the US Senate to mandate companies allow right for repair.
Customers can head to the Apple online self service repair store to order over 200 individual parts and tools to fix their devices. The company statement underscored that customers should be “experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (third generation).” Apple is also offering tool rental kits for $49, so customers do not have to purchase expensive gear for a single repair.
While sustainability advocates hailed this is a step forward, iFixit, a how-to website, pointed out that Apple still will only allow its own parts to be used in repairs and not aftermarket pieces by other manufacturers. “If you use an aftermarket part, there’s an ‘unable to verify’ warning waiting for you,” the blog said. “This strategy hamstrings third-party repair with feature loss and scare tactics and could dramatically limit options for recyclers and refurbishers, short-circuiting the circular economy.”
Over the past three years, Apple said it had nearly doubled the number of service locations to over 5,000, including more than 3,000 third-party repair providers. Eight out of every 10 Apple customers are located within 20 minutes of an authorized service provider in the US, according to the brand.