back to article The cost of beating Apple's shrewd screws? £2

Apple has been switching the screws that hold its latest iPhone shut, but cries of conspiracy are somewhat refuted by the realisation that a $2 screwdriver fixes the problem. The new screws are called pentalobe (five-pointed), but if it is really (as iFixit so eloquently put it) "Apple's insidious plan to sabotage our iPhones …


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  1. eJ2095


    Think they got a screw loose some where......

    Will get my coat

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "You may find something different down there.."

  3. NogginTheNog

    Tinfoil hat brigade on the loose again

    I think this was probably always more about inventory (the *billions* of screws the manufacturers must get through?!), with possibly a side advantage of deterring casual fiddlers, than any great evil plan to thwart third party access :-\

  4. Doug Glass


    At our Local Harbor Freight store, the tool is about $2. Funny, while using a wall urinal at a local mall yesterday I noticed the privacy panels were wall-mounted with brackets using "tamper proof" lag screws. I laughed. I guess it really is true, the beautiful people hang out in the same places the rest of use do.

    Inspiration comes from all over.

  5. Doug Glass


    You meant to say... "Don't proff whut they right". Old people, the curse of the cybre-wurld. Yeah right. Moron

  6. Jo 5

    what a cutie

    Shes a hot geek, i wanna give her some input and then process her output. hmm

    yeah... the one with sadtard on the back, thnx

    1. Queos lvl42 mage
      Thumb Up


      Except for the Apple fetish anyway.

      Nice heatsinks in any case..


  7. Anonymous Coward

    they are the same as DRM

    doest stop people getting in, just makes it hard for the casual idiot to get in and break things.

  8. Chad H.
    Black Helicopters


    Didn't El Reg run a story supporting this conspiracy before... And no mention of it (But happy to knock a competing site) in this one....

    1. JaimieV

      Just last week

      And oddly enough, the comments were full of people pointing out how easy it is to get the drivers and how much of a non-story it was.

      And commentards of course, but that always happens on Apple stories.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find a hammer fixes most things.

    (The post is required, and must contain letters.)

    1. AceBitbucket


      And, if that does not work? Get a bigger hammer, of course.

  10. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Hard to find?

    Had sets of these for ages - little more than £4 from the average supermarket's hardware aisle and you can get sets of security bits that cover all these crazy security screws. A more premium £15 set and you get around 50 different interchangeable heads in one convenient package.

    Computer kit that we can't get into? Not likely... mine's the one with the assorted screws and bolts in the pocket that ought to have gone back into the laptop but there didn't appear to be any holes left...

    1. handle

      Recessed security screws

      The trouble with the security bit sets is that the diameter of a bit-holder means that they can't be used where the screws are (deliberately) recessed by more than the length of the bit, and the hole is (deliberately) not big enough.

      By the way, Mr Ray, it's a Phillips screw - Philips is a large consumer electronics company.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Yep, bits do not always fit. This is why...

        ... I have a set of Tamper Torx (a torx head with a hole bored in the middle) drivers from T10 to T1, primarily for working on hard drives and other tiny tiny devices. Most of them don't use the tamper part, but I figured if I must buy the drivers, I might as well buy the tamper torx so I don't have to duplicate tooling in the event I run across a tamper screw.

        The first real security screwdriver I bought was a tamper-hex in 5/32" , obstinately to get into telephone boxes when I worked for one of the larger ISPs here in the US and had to troubleshoot things.

  11. GarethJones

    Need to open an IPhone

    ...Nothing a 10lb lump hammer, can't solve.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    "At least the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as surgery without anaesthetic and public hangings."

    That's Channel 4 then?

    1. JasonW

      Can't say I agree with the slot screw comment

      The only screw heads I've ever ruined are Phillips - because you can't get enough "drive" on them... probably because pozidriv & supadriv fit them "quite well" but not properly - whereas with a slot screw only the thickness of the blade is a limit.

      Oh and security screws of miscellaneous types - as others have said widely available from just about any decent tool outlet.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dislike of slot screws

        At least when you chew up the head of a philips screw or the driving bit, the bit can't accidentally slide out of the screw head and irrepairably scrape the surface of the thing you're trying to take apart/put together, or worse, slice up your hand which has happened to me once.

      2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

        Feature not bug

        Phillips screws are designed to 'cam out' when you twist too hard. It means that you can't overtighten them easily.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down


          If it cams out you are doing it WRONG.

      3. Framitz

        Phillips takes the right tool

        Phillips screws are far superior to slotted. If you have the right screwdriver for the screw it should grip so well that with enough torque you can twist the head off the screw.

        You're doing it wrong.

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Nyet Kamerad ! slot ist gud !

          For the unminaturised stuff out there, a stuffed slotted screw can often be returned to use enough to get it out with a hacksaw. Also works on other screws of sufficient size.

          As for tiny stuff, they are all b?st??ds if tight.

  13. Dick Head


    "At least the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as surgery without anaesthetic and public hangings."

    Funny that some of the most precise miniaturised mechanical machines, ie: watch movements, are put together exclusively with slot screws. I suspect the skill of the artificer has a lot to do with whether they're considered and abomination.

    1. Tim Parker
      Thumb Up

      Re : Abomination

      "Funny that some of the most precise miniaturised mechanical machines, ie: watch movements, are put together exclusively with slot screws. I suspect the skill of the artificer has a lot to do with whether they're considered and abomination."

      Seconded. Many of the cross-head screw layouts were done to deliberately encourage cam-out, to deter knuckle-dragger operators/Conan the Chippy from blindly over-tightening, so can hardly be held up as a pinnacle of design...

    2. ian 22

      World? Hardly.

      "the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as ... public hangings"


      Iran finds public hangings to be quite salutary.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo


    That makes them even more exclusive!

    Must rush out and get shiny phone with expensive screws.

    Hope I can make phone calls.

  15. ElNumbre
    Jobs Halo


    Apple - inventing new and cunning ways to screw up its equipment since 2010.

  16. Juan Inamillion


    Q. "Would you like a screw driver?"

    A. "Not just now thanks, I'm busy..."

  17. JaitcH

    Canada has the unique Robertson headed screw!

    The Robertson headed screw is unique to Canada - see < > -

    There are four sizes and no other screwdrivers fit! It wasn't designed for security - just an easy, reliable design to use with a power driver.

    A Canadian company I worked for had some U.S. Navy contracts and the packing/shipping directions were so detailed they were a pain to follow. Failure to comply involved return of the goods.

    The only thing they didn't specify was the type of screw to be used to build the wooden crates. To show our appreciation we always used Robertson headed screws which always floored them!

    1. ScottME

      Not unique to Canada

      You can get square drive screws and driver bits quite easily in UK, for example from Screwfix:

      1. Darryl


        I always thought Robertson screws were our very own, but the only thing our own is the name. Americans call 'em "square head"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: The Robertson headed screw is unique to Canada

      The only thing "unique to Canada" is the name - the rest of the world just calls them square drive, and they are actually quite popular across a large range of industries and uses.

    3. Queos lvl42 mage

      Not quite....

      Those damn things are used in every mobile home/manufactured housing in the US.... and are defeated with a standard slot screwdriver fitted diagonally in the square.


      1. Tempest

        Just shows a 1926 Canadian invention was a world beater

        Messrs Robertson, of screw fame, the original designers and manufacturers, are located in Milton, Ontario about an hour west of Toronto.

        The screws weren't that 'international' until the 1980's.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. tony trolle

      Ford model T

      used those screws.

      Lots of deck screws in the US also have those heads

  18. -tim

    Screw You!

    The only tool for a Phillips screw is a Phillips screwdriver and not one of the other options but Phillips screws are rare below size 1 and the smaller ones are crossed but not Phillips.

    A Dean of Engineering told me that when he was working at IBM, he ended up having to go through the hundreds of screws used in a punch card machine. It turns out that IBM had several hundred part numbers for the same screw yet some cost far more than others because of volume buys and other nonsense. He reduced it to something like 23 unique screw part numbers and sent requests off to get most of those changed to less than a half a dozen.

    A flat blade will open a pentalobe. They are just a cheaper to make 5 pointed star head and they have been around for at least 30 years.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Apple have nothing on car makers

    - they've been at this for decades. Go to a Volvo garage and you'll see a whole wall of improbable and bizarre special tools, it looks like the inside of an alien spaceship: these are created, utterly gratuitously, to work on parts made so nobody else can without the expensive tools - prohibiting competition.

    Even VW, go back to the 80s, did a certain kind of utterly unecessary pressurised clip (amongst many on the Golf) which only their tools could prize apart, to replace a jubilee clip: you could do it with a lot of pressure but you'd often cut your hands open.

    Apple's efforts are nothing in this regard!

    1. Matt Milford

      VW Clips

      Those clips VW use are easily taken off with vise-grips.

      1. Justin Clements


        the clip was used because jubilee clips are unable to take temperature changes on hoses. the clip in question can keep a constant pressure on the hose when it's hot or cold (or something like that).

        and the clip is apparently very effective as well, that's why you find them on other vehicles now as well.

  20. Tom 13

    I think that's why The Doctor carries a sonic;

    much easier than changing heads all the time.

  21. Robert Moore
    Jobs Horns

    When will you people learn?

    The only screw worth using is the Robertson.

    A Canadian invention. :)

  22. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge

    Today we have naming of parts

    Yeah, sure you can use the Internet to find a screwdriver for the weird screw: if you know what the weird screw is *called*. Who would have guessed "pentalobe"?

    1. RichyS

      Or you could try Googling

      Let me Google that for you:

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      A million thanks

      for that reminder of a beautiful poem that has not passed across my consciousness for many years.

  23. Cliff

    Milliput and patience

    A splash of wd40, 20 minutes with milliput, and a donor screwdriver, and you can open pretty much anything ;-)

  24. Matthew 3
    Thumb Up

    Robertson screws, you say?

    Finally! An explanation for the (apparently useless) screwdrivers I got in a giant set a few years back.

    So I might never have seen any of them in use but at least I can undo them when I do.

  25. illiad

    wrong, phillips is 'cross-head', nothing else..

    even pentalobe is there, C 2009...

  26. Alan Esworthy

    Swinging slowly in the breeze

    "At least the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as surgery without anaesthetic and public hangings."

    I agree about the surgery, but there's something appealing about public hangings of company managers who decide to use special-tool fasteners in their products. I've paid my money, I own the article, now let me in!

    1. Paul Vail

      title? what title?

      You don't 'own' it if Apple has to warranty things. Until the warranty expires, you have limited access unless you do not wish to exercise the warranty. You break it, you (should) buy it. But here in the States there are a lot of DYI types who think others should pay for their experimentation. Then again, we've had 30 years of Reaganomics where the neo-cons felts everyone else should pay for their experimentation. Perhaps it is only an extension of a culture in decline...

  27. Anonymous Coward

    ZERO sounds better

    If you pay anything at all to defeat the pentalobe screw you are a fool.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not to quibble but....

    "At least the world agrees that the slot screw is an abomination that deserves to go the same way as surgery without anaesthetic and public hangings."

    Well, there are parts of the US that don't have a problem w/ execution by hanging.

    And there is a growing movement (from the left oddly, the thought being that once people familiarity will breed contempt) to televise executions in the many US states which perform them.

    So, by the transitive property I'd argue that the world does not, in fact, agree that public hangings are an abomination, although I think the author is on safer ground with respect to the slot screw.

  29. John Savard


    It certainly is true that Philips screwdrivers have a problem; the screwdriver tends to wear out if used to drive screws that require any effort to turn. So the slot screw is still appropriate for plain work.

    But there is no need to use fancy and proprietary screwdrivers like the Torx. The Robertson screwdriver - with a square shape, rather than the plus-sign of the Philips, or other exotic shapes like a hexagon or a triangle or the Torx six-lobes and so on - has excellent torque transmission properties, and has been around for a long time.

  30. marschw


    People used to make slotted Torx screwdrivers by heating up the tail end of a cheap ballpoint pen until it started to melt, then pressing it against the head of the screw until it cooled. I assume this still works with Pentalobe.

  31. Rombizio

    The bigger Apple becomes...

    ...the more it looks like MS. It is one Fail after the other. I can't wait for the next one.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    nothing new here..

    it wasnt that long ago that I got a set of special screw bits to open up by Nintendo GBA to fit

    an afterburner backlight system...once again, a quick search and purchase

  33. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    doesn't mean it's not an attempt

    The fact that screwdrivers are available that can take these screws out doesn't mean it's not an attempt by Apple to make it harder to work on these than it should be. This went all the way back to the Plus and SE when they used odd-sized Torx like T7s. Jobs explicitly wanted people to treat their computers as a sealed appliances back then, and I'm sure that's the reason now too.

  34. Bill Stewart

    Every time I've owned a GM car

    I've needed to buy Yet Another Stupid Torx Driver to adjust the headlights or something else that has gratuitously silly screws to prevent owners from fixing their own cars. Now, sometimes that's because it's been long enough since I bought that last one that one of the Two Gratuitously Different Stupid Torx Drivers has wandered off, but it's still annoying.

  35. AndrewG

    Whoa..whiney geekette alert

    She looked good right up to the point where she opened her mouth and all the self entitled whiney paranoia got regergitated from her brain and out her mouth.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    wrong screwdriver

    Am I the only person that noticed that the screwdriver listed is a pentagram screwdriver. Apple uses Pentalobe screws as far as I have read.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      "pentagram screwdriver"?

      Now *that's* a name to conjure with........

  37. Michael Thibault

    Recommended reading, ladies and gentlemen

    Ah, the frontier! Never a dull moment. Bone up on the silliness of fastener fascism here:

  38. illiad

    yeah, yeah....:(

    The trouble is, if you want to replace something in your house that has broken after many years of service....

    - would ya believe, an internal door handle - the internal spring broke!!!

    After finding a good replacement, they helpfully supply screws... Slot head!!!! I wonder if there is vast warehouse of these, for stuff that they stopped making 20 years ago!!! :)

    But back to apple... warranties are a protection for any company, from idiots who open a device, and then will swear blind that they never touched it, when something goes wrong...

    Apple users being a higher class of idiot, due to:

    1) breaking your lovely new toy due to curiosity,

    2) thinking you can do anything vaguely intelligent once you have done so!!

    And apple are forgetful idiots to, they forgot they used the SAME screws in their mac-book in 2009, so it has ALREADY been documented and many suppliers have the screws and drivers for that...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    im pretty sure ive got a cheap security screw bit set thats got pentalobes in it, i know they definatly dont fit torx cos i keep geting the little c@@@ mixed up

    on the subject of daft screws any one remember those torx with a pre machined flat head compaq went through an obsession with in 386 days?

  40. peter baston

    Screwed once again

    Just goes to show how you can get screwed without the right tool

    ( : ( : pete

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