Apple Changes Course, Gives Independent Shops Parts for Fixing iPhones

You no longer have to be a Genius to fix an iPhone. In what appears to be major reversal, Apple announced Thursday that it wants to make it easier for independent electronics shops to fix broken iPhones. “To better meet our customers’ needs, we’re making it easier for independent providers across the US to tap into the same resources as our Apple Authorized Service Provider network,” Apple chief operating officer Jeff Williams said in a press release. Apple will now provide tools, guides, and trainings for repair shops that are not officially affiliated with the company. This is a win for the right-to-repair movement, which for years has been calling on Apple and other hardware companies to let third parties fix their devices.

“[The iPhone] is Apple’s most profitable product. It’s a big deal for Apple to be taking the step to sell parts directly to independent shops, and we’re applauding them for that move,” said Kyle Wiens, founder and CEO of the DIY electronics repair company iFixit.

In the past, Apple had all but required customers to visit an authorized service provider to get their phones fixed. The company wouldn’t distribute iPhone parts, making third-party repairs difficult if not impossible. Apple even sued an independent shop in Norway for using aftermarket iPhone screens, though the company lost the suit in 2018. Earlier this month, DIY technicians discovered that replacing the battery in an iPhone XR sets off a sensor that produces a service alert and hides battery health data, which advocates of the right-to-repair movement saw as a jab against people who weren’t going to authorized service providers. The Guardian similarly found in 2016 that iPhones could become inoperable by design if a third party tried to replace any parts affecting the device’s Touch ID or motherboard, though Apple noted that this was partly a measure to protect fingerprint data.

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