Apple Faces Yet More 'Right To Repair' Backlash Over iPhone 13 Screen

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

Apple has never looked too kindly upon users actually repairing their own devices. The company’s ham-fisted efforts to shut down, sue, or otherwise imperil third-party repair shops are legendary. As are the company’s efforts to force recycling shops to shred Apple products (so they can’t be refurbished and re-used), and Apple’s often comical attacks on “right to repair” legislation, a push that only sprung up after companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sony, John Deere, and others created a grass-roots counter-movement via their attempts to monopolize repair.

And if the construction of the iPhone 13 is anything to go by, Apple has learned absolutely nothing in the last five years of heated debate, legal wrangling, and bipartisan anger. According to iFixit, the iPhone 13 is harder to repair than ever. The screen technically can no longer be replaced at all without the use of a microscope and special software. If you try to do it yourself, it disables the iPhone’s Face ID identification technology. That’s something that’s been confirmed by both iFixit and numerous independent repair shops:

iFixit isn’t impressed:

“This is a dark day for fixers, both DIY and professional. One of the most common phone repairs that could once be done with hand tools now requires a microscope. This means you won?t be able to fix your iPhone screen yourself without sacrificing major functionality. It also has huge implications for the professional repair industry, for which Apple is the dominant brand to service. Small shops could be shuttered, forced to choose between spending thousands on new equipment or losing a major source of income.”

After complaints bubbled up, Apple told The Verge it would eventually release a software update that doesn’t require you transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap. Though that update isn’t here yet, there’s no guarantee it won’t come without caveats, the screen is still very difficult to repair, and making the decision in the first place (after several years of very public right to repair backlash) speaks volumes. It’s also still part of an overall trend at Apple to monopolize repair.

If an independent repair shop wants to survive, they now have to join (assuming they’re even allowed) Apple’s problematic independent repair program. Otherwise, independent repair shops lose a ton of revenue every time these policy choices are made (which from Apple’s perspective is the whole point). Apple will routinely claim they’re only concerned about consumer privacy and security, but it’s possible to be pro-privacy and security and pro-environment, pro-consumer, and pro-independent repair simultaneously.

Historically, the more companies like Apple, Sony, or John Deere attempt to monopolize repair, the bigger the bipartisan coalition of annoyed consumers grows. That increases the risk of state or federal legislation blocking their efforts, a bit of mathematics they’ll eventually be forced to take to heart.

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Companies: apple

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Comments on “Apple Faces Yet More 'Right To Repair' Backlash Over iPhone 13 Screen”

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

I smell bovine feces

Apple will routinely claim they’re only concerned about consumer privacy and security

Which is, like the subject claims, bovine feces. They’re interested in control. That’s basically their business model. It’s getting harder and harder to run a program on the Mac without Apple’s permission (still possible, thank god, but it’s difficult). That’s the only thing I can conclude from them as an Apple user.

GHB (profile) says:

Re: I smell bovine feces

I totally agree. This privacy claim is something that CONSUMERS should should have control on, not apple. If it belongs to consumers, then they should have the control on to dictate how their privacy goes.

This is equivalent on adobe shutting down flash. Instead of just giving a notification that the software is vulnerable to attack and give the user the option to run the software or not, they completely blocked it for all users. It is up to the user to decide they should run the risk with warnings, but adobe took that away and people HAD to create their own software if they wanted to be playable again.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s really bad for the environment for users to be throwing away iPhones because they can’t be fixed or its too expensive to fix them apple seems to go out of its way to make phones hard to repair by withholding data from independent repair shops
If you don’t like Google you can sideload apps and use Firefox brave browsers it’s a shame that apple is pushing against the right to repair movement

Anonymous Coward says:

‘the bigger the bipartisan coalition of annoyed consumers grows’

it surely shows how absolutely fucking useless the government and members of both political parties as well as the courts are as far as getting this ‘right to repair’ problem fixed are concerned! it also shows the lengths Apple (and others) will go to maintain the monopoly for repairing it’s products. this all goes back to the asshole judge who ruled in Sony’s favor over the ‘other O/S’ on playstations that removed any liability when customers were blocked from installing another O/S when it was advertised as being available to be done. since then, everything has gone shit-shaped with customers still being expected to pay for various things but being deemed as ‘only renting them for indefinite periods’, thereby losing the right to do what they want with their purchases. that prick has a lot to answer for! i bet he got a helluva payout for that ruling!!

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