Dusseldorf German Apple customers can now repair some iPhones and Macbooks themselves. The group now also offers more than 200 spare parts, tools and instructions in the “Self Service Repair Store” in Germany. US customers have been able to purchase self-repair kits for some iPhones since April, and repair parts for some Macbooks were added in November. Apple has also activated the store in Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Spain.
Repair accessories are currently only available for the iPhones 12 and 13 and Macbooks with Apple’s own M1 and M2 chips – i.e. the Macbook Air and the MacBook Pro in 13 inches from year 2020, the Macbook Pro in 14 and 16 inches from year 2021.
Apple is clearly changing its own company policy. So far, only our own and certified staff were allowed to open the phones and computers. Behind this was the principle of Apple founder Steve Jobs to control their own products and services as far as possible. Henning Wilts, an expert in circular economy at the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, confirms this: “Apple was very restrictive about repairing things or providing delivery parts.”
Apple: Political pressure leads to change of strategy
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Apple is moving away from the old repair policy for two main reasons. On the one hand, internal e-mails within the company also show doubts about the previous representation that self-repairs endanger the safety of users – whether through a flammable battery or a hacker attack.
More important, however, is the political pressure, including from the “Right to Repair” movement, which demands a “right to repair” worldwide and thus wants to achieve more sustainability and lower prices for consumers. The topic can also be found in the EU Commission’s “Action Plan for Circular Economy” and in the federal government’s coalition agreement. Circular economy expert Wilts says Apple is anticipating regulation with the cycle.
Criticism of Apple self-repair in the US: Too expensive, too many limitations
There has already been some criticism of the service in the US. The accessories required to replace the screen of an iPhone 12 Max cost around 340 dollars in the cheapest version, as calculated by Linus Sebastian, technology expert and founder of the YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips, which is well-known in the USA. The exchange by a professional costs only around 330 dollars in the Apple store.
In addition, the parts and instructions for some common iPhone repairs, such as a broken charging socket or damaged housing, are missing, as representatives of the “Right to Repair” movement criticize. The company only offers parts in the self-service shop for the five most common repairs, according to Apple: replacing the screen, the speaker, the battery, the camera and the “taptic engine”, the haptic vibration motor.
Tools can be rented, the instructions are clear
Despite this criticism, Apple is taking an important step towards sustainability with the service. The company provides very detailed and clear instructions for repairs on its own website. Anyone who dares to do the intervention enters a code, which is at the end of the instructions, and the serial number of the device and can order the spare parts.
For around 60 euros, hobbyists can also rent suitable tool kits for a week, the purchase is more expensive. Tools include battery presses, torque wrenches and repair fixtures, which tech expert Linus Sebastian says are very helpful.
The rental tools come with the individual parts in the mail free of charge. However, anyone who does not get the repairs done immediately is under time pressure: it is not possible to extend the rental of the tools, and anyone who sends them back too late has to pay a penalty.
For sustainability expert Wilts, “the new offer is a welcome thing”.
More: Flat battery, broken display – why the fight against electronic waste fails.