Apple has announced intentions to allow users to fix their own phones, which is a significant departure from the company’s present repair standards. It will sell repair components to the general public, something that just a handful of phone companies have done in the last decade. It will also make public repair guidelines available.
“Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022,” said in a press release.
The initial focus, according to Apple, will be on displays, batteries, and cameras, but this will increase next year. Customers will have access to repair manuals and will be able to place online orders for Apple components and tools. They can return the broken parts to an Apple shop for store credit once they’ve finished their own repair. Apple has announced that more than 200 unique parts and equipment will be available to assist in the repair of iPhone 12s and 13s.
“Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a press release. “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.”
This is a significant shift from Apple, which has long had a repair monopoly on its products and has done everything it can to keep users from repairing their own gadgets. Face ID was initially blocked on iPhone 13s with independently fixed screens, but Apple has promised a software patch.
“This is a huge milestone for the Right to Repair. One of the most visible opponents to repair access is reversing course, and Apple’s move shows that what repair advocates have been asking for was always possible,” Nathan Proctor, the head of USPIRG’s Right to Repair Campaign, told Motherboard in an email. “After years of industry lobbyists telling lawmakers that sharing access to parts, service tools and manuals would result in safety, security and intellectual property risks, Apple’s sudden change indicates these concerns were overblown. Right to Repair is breaking through.”
Apple has campaigned against consumer and independent repair from the iPhone’s creation. For years, Apple only permitted “authorized” repair companies to work on iPhones, resulting in a large grey market for aftermarket components and thriving online culture for DIY repair manuals written by Apple workers and users on sites like iFixit. Apple has long battled independent repair; the corporation has sued companies that use “counterfeit” parts, advocated against right-to-repair legislation that would force Apple to do what it has now stated it will do willingly and has previously argued that repairing your own phone is unsafe.