In recent years, Apple has made a push for both device reparability and environmentalism. It launched a Self Service Repair program, lectured customers about carbon neutrality, and discontinued its popular leather phone cases. But these commitments have no tangible impact on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. In a new teardown video, iFixit discovers that Apple is still an opponent to reparability—its parts pairing system discourages device repair and encourages wastefulness.
This teardown video could have been a win for Apple. As iFixit explains, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is reasonably easy to work on. It uses larger screws, its removable backside is made of metal (rather than glass), and small components (like the microphones) are more modular than ever before. Plus, Apple’s implementation of USB-C is totally standard, without any tricks.
Apple has clearly improved the iPhone’s reparability, but only at a physical level. The company still enforces its parts pairing system, meaning that certain components must be replaced by Apple or an “authorized” service technician. If you swap out the phone’s LiDAR sensor, selfie camera, or wireless charging coil, they won’t work. If the iPhone 15 detects that you’ve replaced the main camera array, the logic board, or the display, then it will prevent you from accessing certain features. True Tone, battery health information, and automatic brightness are some of the affected features.
In other words, Apple has only improved “authorized” repairs. You can’t use donor parts from a broken phone to fix your iPhone 15 Pro Max, and you can’t bring this phone to “unauthorized” repair centers. All repairs must be done at Apple’s discretion. Yes, you can perform DIY iPhone repairs through Apple’s Self Service Repair program. But this program is extremely limited, and it’s often more expensive than a visit to the Apple Store.
This teardown also gives us a good look at the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s periscope camera — a genuinely impressive piece of technology. Instead of using a series of lens elements to achieve a 120mm focal length, Apple has designed a single element that bounces light across several small planes. The result is a 5x optical zoom ratio, up from 2x optical zoom in the previous model.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max’s titanium frame is also a point of discussion. While titanium is fairly easy to recycle, titanium production isn’t exactly a green venture. This material could also damage recycling equipment if mistaken for steel or aluminum, though this shouldn’t be a problem, as recyclers often take great care when dealing with iPhones. It’s difficult to judge the environmental implications of this material, though iFixit confirms that the iPhone’s titanium frame is way too easy to scrape and scratch.
For more information on this teardown, plus the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s repairability score, check out iFixit’s YouTube video and blog post. For supplemental reading, check out iFixit’s iPhone 15 parts pairing document, which outlines the results of its parts pairing tests. Note that iFixit has also published teardowns for the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.