Lately, it has looked like Apple has shifted towards making its phones more and more repairable. With the iPhone 15 Pro, the company redesigned the phone’s internal structure to make it more easily repairable and make the back glass easily replaceable — a move that brought down repair costs considerably. But some bad practices from Apple remain in place, and iFixit is concerned about those, to the point it’s knocking down a few points from the its repairability score for last year’s iPhone 14.
So what’s the problem here? While Apple is making the iPhones easier to get into with every passing year, repairing iPhones is still a bit of an odyssey, partly because Apple basically forces you to buy parts from the company through its self-repair program and authenticate them when repairing your own phone. You can get the genuine parts you need from Apple, but in order for them to actually work properly, you need to authenticate the parts with Apple’s System Configuration tool — in order for Apple to actually authenticate a repair, it needs to know about the repair beforehand, take the serial number of your iPhone, and match it to the part you bought. Only then, Apple will do a software handshake and the part will actually work without your iPhone nagging about it.
iFixit said in a blog post, “When we gave the iPhone 14 a high [repair] score, the community pushed back. To be honest, they were right—and we’d like to thank our critics for helping us hold manufacturers accountable. The situation has gotten so bad that several repair professionals have told us they’re leaving the business entirely rather than navigate the labyrinthine maze of obstacles that Apple has erected.”
Despite Apple’s advances towards repairability, as well as the company’s backing of California’s right-to-repair bill, the company still has issues such as this one, which is why iFixit opted to retroactively reduce the iPhone’s repairability score from 7 down to 4. While it’s technically easier to perform repairs on, the fact that you actually need to validate parts with Apple’s systems is annoying, and makes things such as sourcing parts from used phones basically impossible. It basically forces you to buy parts from the company, which can get a bit expensive, and all but rules out cheap repairs by sourcing out parts.
Technically, this is done with the aim of discouraging the use of unofficial parts. But if it’s also ruling out original parts sourced from elsewhere, then it’s a bit of an anti-consumer measure. We really hope that this is something Apple eventually reverses course on.