The repair experts at iFixit already suspected that something had changed at Apple when they unscrewed the iPhone 14 for the first time. "The iPhone 14 is nothing less than the biggest redesign since the iPhone X," they said of the company's latest model. However, nothing can be seen from the outside. Despite this, iFixit is full of praise: "Apple started all over again and redesigned the interior of the iPhone from the ground up to make repairing the device easier."
That's a little surprise. Because in the past, the company hasn't made it easy for its users to repair their devices themselves. The group regularly warned of the loss of their warranty claims and inferior parts that would be sold on the market. Those who didn't want to listen to it were at a disadvantage. Some of the devices no longer worked properly and face recognition failed completely. Apple wanted to make it clear that only we can repair properly.
But now there is a change of heart, which is also reflected in the interior of the iPhone 14. iFixit gives the model a seven out of ten on its repairability scale. "This is the best rating for an iPhone since the iPhone 7," say the experts. "It's the most repairable iPhone in a very long time."
Apple is now underlining this with the launch of its self-service repair program in eight European countries, including Germany. iPhone and MacBook users can now repair their devices themselves - and get the replacement parts, tools and repair instructions from Apple. For the time being, this is possible for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models as well as the MacBooks with the in-house M1 chip. 200 individual parts are available for an order, including displays, cameras and batteries.
The group announced the program for the USA more than a year ago, but it started with a slight delay in April. Spare parts, tools and instructions were initially available there for the iPhone models 12 and 13, and since August also for the MacBooks.
Consumer advocates have long been calling for electronic devices to be easier to repair. A broad right-to-repair movement had already formed in the USA, and it found increasing support, including in politics. Apple was one of the worst opponents of this movement.
The demand for easier repairs was also heard in Europe. In mid-November, the EU member states and the European Commission agreed on new eco-design rules for smartphones and tablets, the repairability of which will be regulated throughout Europe for the first time. This requires manufacturers to make certain replacement parts and repair information available for seven years after a model has been discontinued. In addition, when developing the devices, manufacturers must ensure that they are easier to repair.
The coalition parties in Germany had already agreed on similar demands. And this is how Economics Minister Robert Habeck judged after the EU decision: "The negotiations are a great success and a further step towards a living circular economy, in accordance with the coalition agreement." However, it will be some time before the rules come into force. The EU Parliament and the Council of the EU now have three months to review it. After publication in the Official Journal of the EU, there is still a transition period of 21 months before the rules apply to all devices sold in the EU.
Apple is cautiously approaching this with its repair program. "The program enables tech-savvy customers who have experience repairing electronic equipment to carry out their own repairs," the company said in a statement. You could use the same instructions, parts, and tools that would be used at Apple Retail Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers.
However, if you want to go to the trouble of replacing your cracked iPhone 12 display, you should start thinking. Because that is more expensive in the self-repair than a repair in the Apple Store. A repair costs 339 euros in the store or if you send it to Apple by courier. However, if you choose the self-service repair, you first pay 391 euros.
This includes a rental fee of almost 60 euros for a tool kit, which users have to send back after a week at the latest. Apple then delivers its tools in two hard-shell cases weighing a good 35 kilograms. In order for the suitcases to be sent back, the customer must authorize an additional amount to be on the safe side, which will be refunded in the event of a faultless return, but will initially be withheld - namely in the amount of 1200 euros.
When checking out for the self-repair service, the user sees an amount of 1591 euros. That should probably deter many interested parties in the end, even if a large part of them are not paid in the end. Especially since many retailers on Amazon offer a repair kit including a display and tools for prices between 100 and 140 euros - instructions for replacing the display are then available on YouTube.
"Each genuine Apple part is designed and manufactured for each product and undergoes extensive testing to ensure the highest quality, safety and reliability," Apple justifies the cost. These are the same parts — at the same price — that are available through Apple's network of authorized repair providers. The tool kits are also shipped free of charge.
However, Apple does not want to release its spare parts completely into freedom. Many of the parts are subject to part pairing. Apple couples the serial number of a component with the device. So if you order a spare part from Apple, you also have to enter the serial number of your iPhone or MacBook. The part can then only be used for this device.
Apple claims to do this for security reasons. In some cases, a calibration is also carried out. However, the installation of spare parts that do not come from Apple should continue to be a risk. Because at the end of the repair, software authorizes that the spare part also fits the device.
In the end, iPhone and MacBook owners should only use the self-repair service because they enjoy it. Financially, this is a losing proposition compared to repairs in the Apple Store. This also applies if users send their defective part back to Apple for recycling for a credit. They then get a price reduction of 40 euros for a display.
Despite all the criticism, Apple is a pioneer when it comes to sustainability. This begins with the longevity of its products. While competitors promise major updates for their Android smartphones for two to three years, Apple promises five to six years. As a result, iPhones are used longer on average than other smartphones.
Apple is also pushing ahead with its recycling program. The group has also developed a robot called Daisy that disassembles an iPhone into its individual parts within 18 seconds so that they can be recycled. By 2030, Apple says it not only wants to be climate-neutral, but also to have a complete material cycle.
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