back to article Snap suggests Apple out to 'screw' hardware hackers

Apple is designing its own, entirely proprietary screw-head in a bid to prevent punters and repair shops getting inside its future iDevices. At least, it is if - and it's a very big 'if' - you take a piccy posted on the interweb at face value. Captioned "a friend took a photo a while ago at that fruit company, they are …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Applpe Control freakery....

    ... at its best!

    1. NightFox

      Looks Familiar...

      I suspect Apple will shortly be hearing from Darth Vader's lawyers

      1. MasonStorm

        Re: Looks Familiar...

        I was just thinking exaxctly the same thing.....Lucasfilm may come a knockin'

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Looks Familiar...

          Reminds me of the loading screen from System Shock 2

    2. andreas koch

      Re: Applpe(sic) Control freakery....

      O M G !

      If there's anything at all real about it, then the world as we know it will come to an end in a short time:

      United States Patent application # 159357789123

      Apple, Inc. 1,Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California

      A device for the reversible connection of otherwise separate parts of various appliances or their subcomponents comprising of a cylindrical, spirally structured body with a wider, likewise cylindrical but perpendicularly embossed appendage of lesser length on one end.

      We're iScrew® ed.

  2. Martin 37


    That doesn't actually look like a thread.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thread?

      Completely agree I'm shocked clearly obvious crap posted on Reddit makes it through to supposedly news sites.

      Even unscrewmaster and anti-pentalobe campaigner Wiens from iFixit says this is very implausible.

    2. Richard Ball

      Re: Thread?

      If you're a person who spends all his time creating facetious crap about Apple, then you probably think that's as good a shape as any for a screw thread. Never mind that 200+ years of industrial technology has other ideas - this is Apple and they redefine everything.

      Plus, this thread has rounded corners :o)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thread?

      "That doesn't actually look like a thread." I thought that, but my conclusion was that, because the head is so tiny and doesn't look very grippy, they've had to design the thread with the intention of smooth (low pressure) turning and possible use of lube.

      I wonder if whoever had this plan has heard of moulds.

    4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      No way this is real..

      That thread cannot be made with the traditional manufacturing methods (OK, AFAIK, but even the body and thread colours differ which suggests it's made up).

      In addition, if this is at the size the normal Apple screws are the tooling would be a complete pain in production - there is nothing to centre the screw (no tapering or lead-in at the end of the thread nor any guide for the drive toolis), which would would make a mess in the sort of mass production volume Apple works at.

      In addition, a drive tool with such small detail would have issues with material strength.

      So, IMHO much ado about a fake..

      1. andreas koch

        @ Fred Flintstone - Re: No way this is real..

        Well . . .

        The iScrew®'s body will be made from anodized aluminium, and the thread is made from pre-formed austenitic stainless steel, laser-welded onto the body afterwards. The head of the screw looks different from the main body due to high-vacuum electrostatic powder coating with titanium-embedded diamond dust. This is to ensure not only a precise fit and enhanced torque distribution for the iScrew® driver, it also fits in better with the sophistication of the whole device.

        Centering of the screw is a secondary, if at all, problem, since the screw will be fitted into the device by Mr. On Lo Wage at Foxconn; if he doesn't cope with the precision, there's plenty of others queueing up to do his job.

        And the additional price of an extra $80 (€85, £120) for the use of these screws will be eagerly paid by the customers; it again shows that the product they purchased is of a better quality and they can distinguish themselves from the ordinary phone user and from the old-fashioned iPhone4S users who don't have the new iScrew®.

        There, all explained.

        1. Beachrider

          Re: @ Fred Flintstone - No way this is real..

          If the intent was to discourage hackers, this looks like a marginally practical fastener that will be easily mold-mastered into a substitute screw-head. Hackers are notoriously good at this.

          The screws DO look expensive-to-make, which can cause quality issues when the cost-press comes by.

          It looks like a less-than-50%-likely rumor...

          1. andreas koch

            @ Beachrider - Re: @ Fred Flintstone - No way this is real..



            when the cost-press comes by.



            Cost-press? At Apple?


            - - -


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't possibly be true!

    That would mean Apple were innovating.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No problem

    Looks like a flat blade will undo it anyway.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: No problem

      Yes, a set of small tough flat screwdrivers will undo most 'security' screws I have encountered.

      And it would be easy enough to 3D-scan the screw head, invert it and fab the needed driver-head in any modestly equipped modern university materials-engineering lab or equivalent private factory with a small 3D printer capable of printing metals (they have more than one of those in the building across the road from me).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No problem

      @AC Thats pretty much what I thought

      @LaeMing I've also had some success pressing Blu-Tac into a screw head to get a good impression, then gently baking it in the oven. Have to make sure you mould it to fit another screwdriver first though.

    3. Mark 65

      Re: No problem

      That plus how long would it really take for someone to cast a mold off of it to start cranking out screwdrivers?

  5. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    Assuming it's genuine:

    Yeah, that'll stop those places that knock out $2 security-bit packs in their tracks. For about a week. And anyone who wants to "DIY" anyway would just drill into the screw with a screw-removing drill. Hell, there'll be packets of those things on eBay before the device is even released do you could just drill them out and then reinsert new ones. And, let's not forget, you have to send multiple sets of those screwdrivers to EVERY APPLE STORE in the WORLD. Yeah. Not one of those will go missing, or get cloned.

    And even if not - let's assume that people *can't* take their iPhone to one of those "screen repair" places that have cropped up everywhere. You just quadrupled the running cost of an iPhone over its lifetime. I'm not saying that would kill the device, but it will surely affect sales. Hmm, an iPhone that I can have repaired for £200, or an Android phone that's about the same that I can have repaired for £20? Anyone who's broken their phone in the past will realise that it's actually just not worth the cost. Anyone who hasn't might get it repaired once but when it breaks again they will question a) Apple's sturdiness, b) Apple's repair costs.

    But still, the BMW crowd will love it. It means another trip to the manufacturers any time ANYTHING goes wrong, or voiding their warranty entirely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agree with everything you said, but you get a downvote for dissing my choice of car and implying I'm something I'm not.

      1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

        Last time I watched someone repairing a BMW, the OBD flashed up that it had detected an unofficial tyre. To clear it, they had to buy a specific BMW -> OBD convertor cable that cost more than the tyre, or pay a garage the same amount (who said that the high price was justified by the price of the BMW kit needed to do the job).

        It's probably *not* all models and their drivers, just all the models and their drivers I've ever come across and heard repair horror stories from.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What a load of shite.

          1. Adam 67

            unofficial tyre

            what a load of arse. You can put any tyre you want on your beemer (or any other car for that matter)

            1. petur

              Re: unofficial tyre

              No. But not for the reason given above. The tyre must be of a category that can handle the top speed of your car, and in the lower part of Germany, in winter, must be a snow tyre


            2. Nick De Plume

              Re: unofficial tyre

              BMW uses runflat tyres. This is a special kind of tyre that can run even when punctured, due to stronger sidewalls.

              On the plus side, runflats are safer. And there is no need to carry a spare.

              On the minus side, they are harder and heavier, not to mention more expensive. Non-sprung weight of a vehicle is very important, because it directly affects the handling and the "feel" of the car. And a hard tyre makes suspension harder, so you need to design better suspension.

              Using runflat tyres also requires the car to be able "read" the pressure and warn the driver if needed - it is not visually apparent like regular tyres.

              Other manufacturers also use these, but I can't make a list offhand. Anyway, there isn't an "official" tyre for BMW, but there is a special kind you have to use.

              On a related note, Porsche does have official tyres - of I should say special Porsche versions of some tyres you have to use not to void your warranty.

        2. Timmay
          Thumb Down

          @ Lee Dowling

          Unofficial tyre, I call bollocks... next you'll be claiming you saw them refill the washer fluid with tap water, and the OBD flashed up saying "NEIN, NON-MINERAL WASSER ALERT!!"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ Lee Dowling

            I call BS. And a downvote for alleging I would deign myself near a Beemer.

        3. Eddy Ito

          Unofficial tyre?

          I'd wager it was the wheel and they had to reprogram the TPMS. Then again, all new cars have this and not just BMWs, in the US at least. That said, it really is a bug up my backside that the equipment to reprogram the car to a new sensor is so expensive. The only good thing is I don't figure it will be long before the codes are cracked for most cars and some open source kit starts popping up. It really is something that shouldn't be much harder than setting the presets on the radio since it really is just setting the presets on the TPMS radio. While they are at it, put a "yes, I know" button that lets you turn off the light when you start the car after changing the flat.

    2. Seanie Ryan

      @lee dowling

      agree with everything you said except the first, middle and last bit, they were nonsense

  6. Aldous

    wow that will work. its not like the chinese factory we make the devices in is next door to "mr wongs happy screwdriver concern" or anything...

    lets spend $xxx to shaft our customers into buying another knock off screwdriver. Genius!

  7. LinkOfHyrule

    If this aint fake, then why didn't they invent a screwhead in the shape of their very own apple logo? Or even better, they should have invented the turtle-necked screw!

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT)
      Thumb Up

      Actually that's a very good point, at least an apple logo shaped head would be really hard to undo with a flathead screwdriver, unlike this one...

      1. LinkOfHyrule

        LMAO if they did do that, Microsoft might have the bright idea of making a custom screw for the xbox - in the shape of an X - and not release their balls-up until after the press releases and patent applications have been sent out!

        1. LinkOfHyrule

          realise not release lol

        2. David Barrett

          Given the state of the patent app process I'm sure they would be awarded it.

        3. Tom 35

          Ford produced an 8 point star screew

          A Canadian Robertson (square) screwdriver fit perfectly.

          Security screws are only useful to keep Joe Blow from messing with stuff. I bought a high quality set of screw driver bits for every version I have ever seen and some that I have not (three sided with a pin in the middle?) for $15 at the local tool shop.

        4. Ammaross Danan

          X shape

          An X shape does not necessarily have to be the shape of a +

          ^ note that the angles on a typed X (Times New Roman) are greater on the sides than the top and bottom....

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: X shape

            Um yes, but a flathead will still work.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple-logo shaped screw-head

        That's actually an excellent idea - any screwdriver that fitted would therefore necessarily violate Apple trademarks, and thus sales of third-party screwdrivers could be prevented (in official channels, at least)...

        1. DF118

          Re: Apple-logo shaped screw-head

          ...unless said 3rd party screwdriver-makers only used a partial impression.

      3. Marty

        another good point....

        another good point to having the apple logo design as the screw head would be trademark infringement of anyone making and selling screwdrivers for them....

        hmmm, i wonder if i can patent the use of trademark designs as screw head patterns...

  8. Shardik

    Does it matter?

    Yes it frickin well does matter when Apple have shitty warranties and refuse to repair devices for realistic prices. (no, I'm not paying even more for AppleCare, I paid a premium for the device, I EXPECT it to be built well)

    My iPhone 4 home button gradually died (common problem), after 20 months into a 2 year contract, Apple didn't want to know and wanted to charge me £130 for a replacement refurb'd iPhone. Only alternative was a back-street fixit guy who replaced it for £17 and it's worked ever since.

    My iMac's Seagate hard drive died after a similar amount of time, do Apple care? Noooo, Apple want £200+ to put in a new 1TB drive. That's a 300% mark up on the price of 1TB 3.5" internal SATA drives. Because they changed the firmware on the drive it's hard to do independently without incurring the case fans spinning up.

    So YES, it does matter. Enough of this proprietary bullshit. Someone lend me a Galaxy S3 please, cos iPhone 5 is looking less likely by the day, it wouldn't take much to convince me...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Does it matter?

      You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks.

      You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing? Try asking Ferrari to fix your engine for nothing that's worn away outside the warranty. They'll just scream with laughter at you. You probably deserve it as well as your face after that rant is probably red raw with your head about to explode. :)

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Does it matter?

        If you buy premium you expect a two year standard EU warranty.

        And if Apple try to screw you over you take them to small claims, you win, and they pay you extra costs for wasting your time and the court's.

        1. Tapeador

          Re: Does it matter? @ TheOtherHobbes

          Aha, now I don't know about this two-year EU warranty business, whether it's percolated over to blighty yet, where we almost always have far longer and more powerful implied protection from the Sale of Goods Act, than anything written down on a 'warranty' agreement. Written warranties are gratuitous promises, for a far shorter period than you're entitled legally (and *enforceably*) to have the product last, and tend to be used by retailers as 'exclusion' clauses, i.e. "your warranty's run out, we can't help you...". The law says they, the retailer, very, very often must pay up for repair, replacement, or part-refund.

          SOGA forms an unavoidable implicit clause in your contract, that your goods must be of reasonable durability considering all factors including the cost. You may not be entitled to the remedy of your choice (e.g. repair or replacement) but often a refund less a deduction for usage based on the reasonable expected lifetime of the product bearing in mind its cost. Top-end Apple laptop? 4 or 5 years, easy.

          1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

            Re: Does it matter? @ TheOtherHobbes

            Top-end Apple laptop? 4 or 5 years, easy.

            Umm, I don't think so - it depends which part fails. Batteries, for instance, are known for a short life (that's why you can never get them under extended warranty), and hard disks run AFAIK a close second.

            Having said that, I tend to have a machine cycle time of about 2..3 years so I never get the extended warranty - also because I tend to take good care of my machines. It makes sure it keeps running reliably (in my experience, if electronics fails it tends to do in the first 3 months), it makes it easier to resell, and it's in general much nicer to work with a good looking machine..

            1. Dana W

              Re: Does it matter? @ TheOtherHobbes

              Apple extended warranty ALWAYS covers the battery. I always go and get a new one right before the warranty runs out, just for futureproofing.

        2. RICHTO

          Re: Does it matter?

          You are not limitied to two years in the UK. SOGA says it must be durable. For premium goods that is commonly taken as 5 years or so....

      2. Simon Harris

        Re: Does it matter?

        "You fail. Anyway, for £61 quid to cover your iPhone for an extra 2 years, you'd have covered your repair cost double. Don't complain when you take risks."


        £130 to replace an iPhone without AppleCare ... or ...

        £61 for AppleCare ... or ...

        £17 to the back-street guy to fix it.

        Unless my understanding of mathematics is somewhat out of kilter, £17 is considerably less than £61! Now who's failed?!

        1. Jedit Silver badge

          "£17 is considerably less than £61"

          You're just jealous because he can afford a genuine Apple repair while you have to make do with a cheap one that isn't half so stylish and was only copying Apple anyway.

      3. P. Lee

        Re: Does it matter?

        > You don't buy premium and then expect the premium to fix it for nothing?

        No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium.

        You don't expect Ferrari to weld the bonnet shut so that you can't take it to your local mechanic. You don't expect them to make a proprietary lock for the oil and radiator caps so you can't change the oil or top it up yourself.

        I'm sure the new iphone and imacs are great, but Apple are making it all too hard. I loved Apple ][, Mackintosh, OSX and Mac. They've done a good job of bringing "pretty" and "useful" to the consumer, but the rest of the world has caught up and they are resorting to making life difficult rather than making life better, to keep their income up.

        1. The BigYin

          Re: Does it matter?

          @P.Lee - "No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."

          This holds true if the premium being paid is for quality/durability. I don't think that is where the premium goes on Apple products. Instead it goes on design, marketing (selling you a lifestyle) and being a status symbol. It's the same reason (say) Gucci sunglasses cost way more than most other brands, despite the fact they do they exact same job and the other brands may be more durable/better made.

          And it's the exact same with Ferrari - if you want durability, buy a Ford, Honda or Toyota. If you want a status symbol, buy the Ferrari.

        2. Sean Timarco Baggaley

          Re: Does it matter?

          "No, you buy premium and expect it to last longer without repair than non-premium."

          Because, of course, Apple have access to Foxconn's magical, revolutionary new Zero Failures factory in Narnia.

          I think you'll find that the equally expensive rival phones from, say, Samsung ("We let someone else do the R&D, so we don't have to") and their ilk are just as prone to the occasional failure.

          As another poster pointed out, if your iPhone was bought in the EU, your warranty lasts 24 months. By law. There is no get-out clause Apple can use to get around that. (And, yes, that law applies in the UK as well, despite what many of the more ignorant, minimum-wage shelf-stackers at PC World may believe.)

          But... you got it fixed for £17! Clearly the iPhone isn't all that hard to fix for someone with the right tools and knowledge! So what the hell is your problem? Who the hell takes their car to an expensive "official" repair centre (that is obliged to only ever use original parts!) when it's outside the warranty period? Even VW owners know better than that.

          One very good reason for using weird screws and tricky manufacturing techniques is precisely so that they don't get loads of ignorant tinkerers trying to convince them their phone "just broke! Honest!" after they'd tried to pry it open and have a look inside for the sake of satiating their curiosity.

          People who want to make money from repairing such products can still buy the necessary tools—as others have pointed out, it's not going to take long for a Chinese manufacturer to come up with a screwdriver head that matches this, or any other, design. Such people will likely include the chap who fixed your iPhone for less than twenty quid.

          Short of completely sealing each unit and making it effectively disposable, there's not much Apple can do to prevent such repair operations. And I doubt very much that they want to go down that path as they have to abide by WEEE regulations, so repairing and recycling their products is part of their corporate duty.

  9. xenny

    Universal screwdriver

    A few moments with a Dremel and everything takes a flat head screwdriver

    1. RICHTO

      Re: Universal screwdriver

      Have you seen how small the screws are on crapple devices? Good luck trying that fix...

      1. M Gale

        Re: Universal screwdriver

        Have you seen how small the bits are on a Dremel? Or any similar non-branded miniature power tool set for that matter.

        I don't think it'll be a problem. 0.5mm milling bit, perhaps?

        1. RICHTO

          Re: Universal screwdriver

          I think it most definately will be a problem:

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. M Gale

            Re: Universal screwdriver

            You know how small 0.5mm is, right?

            Of course if you really think half a millimetre is too big a groove, you could go for anything down to 0.01mm. That's a hundredth of a millimetre in plain english. In the words of the site, "as fine as the antenna of an aphid".

            Still a problem?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why not just go the whole hog and use

    exploding bolts

  11. Sandtreader

    Yet another use for Fimo

    ... but Rameses(.*)'s comment above does make me think that a *very* slightly oblate circle would make quite a good security head, since copy-moulding tolerances aren't that great and any slop would make it slip.

  12. the-it-slayer

    El-Reg's extreme addiction to Apple stories?

    Do you hear me El-Reg; stop licking the arse of the fruit or actually setup a subsite ( which is available!) to dump all these crap stories. They'll never respond for comment either, ever!

    Can see the pill is getting harder to swallow from the fruit based writers on El-Reg.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: El-Reg's extreme addiction to Apple stories?

      I have a better place for stories like these: /dev/null (or NUL for Windows sufferers).

    2. LinkOfHyrule


      I love all the Apple stories, 'cus they're a nice easy piss taking target for my crap jokes about rounded rectangles and I have literally got about 1,000 upvotes to 50 downvotes thanks to our fruity friends! I think that speaks for itself!

      1. VinceH

        Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

        "and I have literally got about 1,000 upvotes to 50 downvotes thanks to our fruity friends!"

        Make that 1,001 ;)

      2. Arctic fox

        @LinkOfHyrule "nice easy piss taking target for my crap jokes about rounded rectangles"

        Plus the fact that that section* of Apple's customer base that actually deserve the appellation "iPhanboi" are so wonderfully easy to wind up. -:)

        *Note that I am not tarring all Apple customers with the same brush, that in itself would be "fanboi" behaviour.

        1. VinceH

          Re: @LinkOfHyrule "nice easy piss taking target for my crap jokes about rounded rectangles"

          "that in itself would be "fanboi" behaviour."

          Note that you can no longer use the term "fanboi".

          Since Applytes copied the idea of using "fan" at the start of a word as a derogatory term to describe users of alternative platforms - specifically "fandroid" - it has officially become an Applyte innovation to do so. Using the term "fanboi" is therefore copying them, even though they weren't first to do use "fan" as a prefix.

          This is why I now call them Applytes (Apple Accolytes).

          1. Arctic fox

            @VinceH Re: "Note that you can no longer use the term "fanboi"." I abslutely refuse to allow......

            ......them to set the agenda. That section of the Cupertino Posse remain iPhanbois - like it or not. -:P

            1. LinkOfHyrule

              New name for diehard Apple lovers...

              I suggest we call them "Apple Victims"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @ you can no longer use the term "fanboi".

                Excjuze me bwana, I have been waving this banana leaf for a whooole lot longer than Apple exists - it meanz I am prior art.

                Yours, a fan boi from the colonies

      3. Dana W

        Re: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

        And I have 302 downvotes from Winsheep. Your point? Smiles indeed.

  13. The BigYin

    Assuming this is true...

    ...there are two points to not.

    1) Head. Sure, a small flat-head might do it, but all they would have to do is re-jig a few of the spokes or make the design more curved to solve that. It also looks rather shallow, so not much purchase.

    2) Thread. It does not look like a convention screw, much more rounded. This means that is the screw were drilled-out it would be hard to replace as normal screws probably won't work/hold with that thread shape.

    Ah - but what about the fakes/pattern parts. Simple. Patent and copyright that design, then sue that arse out of anyone who is selling them to non-Apple bods. Apple is highly, highly litigious; so this is probably the path they'd choose.

    If I was renting and iDevice, I wouldn't really care. If I rent a TV, fixing it is not my problem. But if I buy an iDevice then is in mine and I can do what I want with it. Or I should be able to.

    Time for the regulators/consumer protection bodies to have a word with apple.

    If this is true of course.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Assuming this is true...

      That patent / copyright technique probably fails, for the same reason that anyone is allowed to make 3rd-party car exhausts that are (on the outside) exactly the same shape as the manufacturer's registered design. It's allowed, because no other shape is possible: if it were a different shape it would not fit the car.

      IANAL, but any other shape of screwdriver head would not fit the screw. As for patents, it would be hard to think up anything that could be patented about a driver shaped to fit a socket, although I suppose a company that thinks it can patent a rectangle with rounded-off corners might try.

      In passing if Apple really wanted tamper-proof screws they could choose one of several designs already on the market, that engage an appropriate screwdriver when twisted clockwise but which cam out when twisted anti-clockwise. However, as someone comments above, a Dremmel tool will convert any screw into one that can be twisted with a flat bladed screwdriver. Far more tamper-proof are plastic cases that snap together and require mechanical contrivances with fifteen thumbs to un-snap them (or which can't be un-snapped at all, short of breaking them).

      1. Tom 35

        Re: Assuming this is true...

        Ford did try to patent the bolt pattern for their wheels and said they had to do it because some after market wheels were unsafe. Failed.

        Even if Apple got a design patent (I expect they could given how things seem to work now) you would only need to use about 3 or 4 of the slots for a screw driver to work.

      2. The BigYin

        Re: Assuming this is true...

        @Nigel 11 - "That patent / copyright technique probably fails, for the same reason that anyone is allowed to make 3rd-party car exhausts that are (on the outside) exactly the same shape as the manufacturer's registered design. It's allowed, because no other shape is possible: if it were a different shape it would not fit the car."

        It would be nice if such logic and common sense were applied to the world of IT. Unfortunately....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Assuming this is true...

      If you are on a phone contract the phone is not yours until you complete your contract. This is effectively like hire purchase.

  14. A J Stiles

    Time for a new law

    As part of a wider directive on field-maintainability of consumer electronic goods, I would require that manufacturers using non-standard screw heads must either supply a compatible screwdriver with the appliance, or else make such a tool generally available for mail order at a fair price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for a new law

      There's drivers available at fair prices for all screws.

    2. The BigYin

      Re: Time for a new law

      We all love car/PC analogies, so here goes!

      IMHO they should apply similar tests to cars, nothing it more annoying than being stranded because you need a garage to do what should be a simple job.

      "Req 1: The driver must be able to change any bulb within 5 minutes. Only tools forming part of the standard toolkit may be used."

      And so on.

      For PCs/Laptops? How about something along these lines:

      "Req 1: The owner must be able to replace the battery using standard, off-shelf tools within 10 minutes."

      "Req 2: The owner must be able to replace the HDD with a standard driver within 10 minutes."

      "Req 3: The owner must be able to upgrade/replace RAM within 5 minutes."

      And then the kicker

      "Owner repairs will not void any manufacturer warranty unless the manufacturer can prove that the owner acted below the level of a 'competent person'."

      Or something along those lines at any rate. (Pretty much how it is with cars really)

      A Dyson vacuum cleaner is expensive, but I can strip that myself to get at the offending part and replace it. No need for a repair engineer or anything.

      1. John McCallum

        Re: Time for a new law

        "Req 1: The driver must be able to change any bulb within 5 minutes. Only tools forming part of the standard toolkit may be used."This is a joke isn't it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Change bulbs?

          All of the 6 cars that I have owned would meet this criterion.

          On the Golf everything is just plastic clips and lids that you undo by hand, don't even need a screwdriver.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for a new law

      Law? There are circumstances where it is widely desirable for there to be rare (if not proprietary) screw heads. Those star-bolts on Ford vehicles, for example. Your mechanic will have plenty, you can buy them cheaply if you want to repair at home- but they prevent idle thumbs from tinkering with essential parts of the vehicle. In consumer electronics, it is desirable to prevent curious children from taking apart items that contain high voltages- or are expensive.

      I was in the pub the other evening, and one builder was asking another if he had a tool for a type of security fencing he was erecting. He had buckets of the fasteners, but not the 'hollow star' driver he required for them.

      The other reason for strange heads is mechanical - it limits the amount of force that can be applied. Take a Pozi-drive screw- it will slip against the driver (or against the adjustable clutch in your power-driver) before it rips itself out of the material it is being screwed into, or damaging the head or driver bit too much. 'Allen' keys (hex) allow vastly more torque to be applied, so are generally reserved for fixing into a pre-tapped metal thread. The standard length of the Allen key gives a rough clue as to how much torque to apply with stripping the thread.,27070/

      1. Ben Tasker

        Re: Time for a new law

        'not the 'hollow star' driver he required for them'

        Torx sockets then. Man I was annoyed when I first came across those (on the differential of a BMW). Hadn't come across them before, so didn't have any. Easy enough to pick up, but had the car been mine I would have had to put it back together to drive and get them!

        1. B4PJS

          Re: Time for a new law

          Similar to a Torx, but has a spike in the middle of the screw makes them "Tamper Proof"

          I guess it stops the old "Use a flat blade" trick.

  15. g e


    Take-downs and patent infringement suits aplenty when someone makes a driver to do this to keep the control freakery firmly in the red.

  16. ElNumbre

    Ultrasonic Welding

    IF <-(Big if) the Fruit making company want to keep the proles out of their electronics, I would expect them to go down the ultrasonic welding path. Permanently seal the device closed so the only way to reopen it would be to destroy it. Easy for the Apple shop to fix faulty hardware, by getting a new iDevice off the shelf and given that to the customer. The only problem is the environmental factor - unless they provide a 'cut-here' template to EOL recyclers, their green credentials could take a further hit.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: Ultrasonic Welding

      Don't confuse the device with the case/box/shell. If welded, a market would spring up to provide boutique versions of the same shells, with either snaps at the edges, or judiciously-placed magnets, or ... to keep things in place.

      On control freakery: the issue is that someone else wants to be a control freak, too.

  17. Mikey

    Hmm, not much of an issue... A bic lighter, the end of an old biro, and presto! Custom screwdriver. Or Dremel it, sure. Oh, and for the wag who mentioned untra-sonic welding... well, for THAT, I have a sonic screwdriver...

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Product marketing diversification opportunity...

      Bic should package both the lighter and Biro together and sell them in B&Q shouldn't they!

  18. Andy 36

    Has no one realised yet....

    that all you need is a hammer to access the inner workings of an Apple device.

  19. Dave 142

    Ford used to try doing this kind of crap all the time, people always got round it.

  20. TrickyRicky


    I call fake.

    Just think of the impracticality of actually mass-production assembling anything with screw that has only 1 degree of rotational symmetry.

    And that thread... it won't thread-form in plastic or thread-cut in metal.

  21. mark 63 Silver badge

    well that'll keep the device secure for two weeks until you can buy a tool on dealextreme

  22. John Tserkezis

    It's probably fake,

    Apple haven't got a patent on the screw, or the screwdriver.

    Knowing Apple, they would have patented the lunch the process workers where having during construction.

  23. Francis Boyle

    Why do I have the strange feeling someone dug this up

    from under Stonehenge?

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Back in the day

    IBM used roundhead screws (no slots, holes or aything else) on the power supplies (some were slightly ovoid, others used a breakaway screw head)

    It didn't take long to get past those either.

    In the worst case, cut a slot with a dremel, extract srew, throw away and replace with something serviceable.

    Assuming you don't care for the warranty, obviously.

  25. jerkyflexoff


    Still would not stop me smashing it with a hammer!

  26. Dave Bell

    The thread would work, but it would have to be going into some sort of insert, and that would push up the manufacturing cost.

    I also have my doubts about the head design. Reliable assembly sets some limits on the head design. It's not good if assembly damages the screw heads.

    This design doesn't make sense.

  27. heyrick Silver badge

    Meh, uninterested.

    A set of flat-blade jeweller's screwdrivers and a small pair of pliers for extra force... I've broken a few blades in my time, but I've yet to find a screw that defeated me. I say ditto to this one here. The asymmetry is irrelevant so long as you can get a blade between any two of the 'teeth'.

    Perhaps Apple should consider the type of screw that can be screwed up without problem, but has 45 degree edges to the other side so cannot be so easily unscrewed...

  28. DrXym

    Doing it for years

    I had a Mac SE for a while that I wanted to dismantle (IIRC so I could get the floppy drive out). The back was held on with a deeply recessed star shaped screw to stop people getting inside of it including myself since I gave up.

    Aside from some of their workstations Apple just don't like people getting inside their computers or devices. They have constantly attempted to lock them down so you need a special tool or even a jig to open them.

    And the reason for this is simple. If someone can't change the battery in their device it means they're more inclined to buy a replacement or at least pay Apple a lot of money to service it. It's a racket pure and simple.

  29. Naughtyhorse

    it's AMAZING!!!!11!!1!1!

    .... too see that apple have abandoned the i-everything pattern with this revolutionary u-screwed device.

    persnly i think

    a> this aint news apple/compac - hell even amstrad indulge(/d) in this malarky all the time.

    when apple want to keep people out.. .then they just glue the whole tihng together, works fine, just so long as it's not a screen they are gluing :D

  30. Alan Denman

    Screw the screw, its glue for you know who!

    Obviously they simply went for the double whammy of glueing everything solid so even the battery explodes when prized off.

    You always have to 'send it back to daddy' with a nice fat cheque to help the impoverished shareholders.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My only problem is ..

    .. that any such screwdrivers (*) will come in those blister packs that seem to be designed to withstand a nuclear war.

    When I bought a pair of scissors to open such packs, it too came in a blister pack (**)

    (*) no, I'm not buying it - to me, that picture yells "fake" in a number of ways

    (**) I'm kidding - you can actually easily open such a pack by using a regular can opener. It's also safer.

  32. Andus McCoatover

    It aint a screw. It's clever. I think the rings need to retract into the body when the right tool's used.

    Assuming it's not a fake....

    I thought at first a couple of pairs of stout tweezers would shift it, but doubt it.

    I'm guessing the head has to be removed by one tool, then a SECOND tool needs to be used to retract the rings.

    I'll also bet the grey paint on the top isn't particulary scratch-resistant, so as to reveal attempted tampering.

    Nasty. Any bomb-disposal experts in the commentard section?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    guilty as charged

    This is obviously completely true and just ties in with what I heard about special shaped electrons being used in the batteries.

    Non-Apple chargers can't produce the notched electrons required so if you do charge with third party device the battery could explode due to the seventeen million electrons required (obviously counted by the charger - depending on model) not fitting.

    Let me tell you an electron explosion is not something you want in your living room.

  34. FrankAlphaXII

    I have a solution to apple's "special" tools.

    Its an alternative called a Brick, or a cinder block. You smash it into your iDevice as hard as you can. Repeatedly.

    Voila, problem solved.

  35. markusgarvey

    one more reason...

    ...that i will NEVER buy an apple product...this is why we cant have nice things!...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: one more reason...

      How many reasons are required... or does the list constantly change. I find it funny how everyone always says ONE MORE REASON not to own something... Apparently they don't necessarily kill cows and pigs in a humane way... doesn't mean I won't pick up beef or pork if its on sale. If you won some iProduct in a contest and you really don't want it I'll take it off your hands... if I don't like it then I can sell it.

  36. John Savard


    Whether or not this is true, it tells us they must have had companies like Apple on Gallifrey.

    After all, something must have driven them to invent the sonic screwdriver!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Few people have the know how to repair a phone. What's the big deal? this is about keeping the casual tinkers out.

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