back to article Apple says it will no longer punish those daring to repair their iPhone 13 screens

Apple has said it will stop making life difficult for anyone replacing a broken iPhone 13 screen with a third-party display and wishing to retain Face ID support. As iFixit pointed out at the end of September, if you swap out the screen in an iPhone 13, Pro or non-Pro, with a third-party replacement, you'll be left with Face …

  1. Michael Hoffmann
    Joke

    No penalties for iPhone 13 repairs

    In exchange, from now on attempts to repair iPhone 12 and earlier models will be punished by burning at the stake.

    1. Totally not a Cylon
      Joke

      Re: No penalties for iPhone 13 repairs

      Have a up-vote for a genuine funny..

      But us 'true believers' only have the latest iDevice......

      It's Heresy to posess an old device; those are given to relatives/friends to 'convert' them to the 'one true way'.......

      Question is "Am I joking?"

  2. David 132 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Well done Apple!

    This is excellent news. Once again Apple lead the way in the market, bringing unheard-of levels of repairability to the sector. We can only hope that other vendors follow their inspiring example, so that our long nightmare of unrepairable phones - going way back to my BT Ambassador landline phone in the 80s, which if I recall correctly was factory-sealed and would in fact detonate a small charge of C4 if you so much as attempted to remove the "warranty void" stickers from the case screws. It'll be great to march into a sunlit future where things like phones can be repaired easily - thank you Tim Cook!

    Now if only the same could be done for other consumer goods. Lost count of how many cars I've had to scrap because the headlamp bulb burned out or the screenwash reservoir got empty.

    (Is this the best icon to indicate "industrial grade sarcasm"?)

    1. BenDwire Silver badge
      Devil

      BT Ambassador landline phone

      That phone was easy to dismantle! We had them at work, and as a wheeze you could move the individual buttons around. The best one was to swap the 7-8-9 for 1-2-3, as then it looked like a normal calculator keypad. The victim would stare at the phone for ages trying to work out what was going on, as it still looked right.

      BTW you could have mentioned British Leyland's windscreen replacement service* being the only option available to Allegro owners. (* 9-5 weekdays)

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: BT Ambassador landline phone

        BTW you could have mentioned British Leyland's windscreen replacement service* being the only option available to Allegro owners. (* 9-5 weekdays)

        As I recall, replacing the rear glass on those was super easy - just jack the car up to change a tyre, and the rear screen would pop out of its channel as the body flexed.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Well done Apple!

      I guess you've not looked at the FairPhone then?

      It is small move in the right direction for one of the big players. But it is still baby-steps.

      EU law requiring that manufacturers provide replacement parts to third party repairers has absolutely nothing to do this, oh, no, Apple are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.

      Longer product lives and the availability of spare parts to non-authorised repair shops is a nice move by the EU. I wonder how the US will respond? So far, they have tried to play the security card, but if other countries are pushing for sustainability and repairability, it will be hard to continue to push for non-repairable (or non-self-repairable) products protected by law...

      I guess the UK will have to look at what the continent is doing as well, now. Although, as we saw with the sewage fiasco last week, this might be one of the reasons for Brexit... Right to repair? That is so European, there is no way we will implement that!

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Well done Apple!

        I feel like you may have missed the OP's weapons-grade sarcasm, however yes, it will be a slight improvement on the current situation, once Apple finally get around to releasing their alluded software patch.

  3. aaaa
    Devil

    make 3rd party repairs impossible

    I'm all for Apple making it absolutely impossible for "3rd party" repairs on iPhone.

    In my home town we have a Facebook community group.

    Last summer, several people "lost" their iPhones at local beaches, and community members helped them track them down with "find my" (why people find this so hard I don't know).

    Last known location - a "phone repair shop" some 40km away. (and no, the police won't investigate, but I've no idea why)

    iPhone's are stolen regularly, and yet they are pretty useless to a pawn shop - so this is pretty much the only use for them. And iPhone parts are expensive. So I guess someone can spend a morning "collecting" iPhones and by the afternoon have a few dollars in their pocket from selling locked but otherwise good phones to a repair shop.

    After iPhone's - the next most common thing stolen here are BMW's - and again, it's for parts. If BMW could stop 3rd party repairs, they absolutely would, because folk around here are now actively campaigning "don't buy a BMW" because it's bringing crime to the area (particularly at night). I doubt BMW are very happy about the crime or the consumer response.

    You can buy BMW parts as "genuine" or “thirdparty”, but it doesn't stop people stealing BMW's for parts. Having "3rd party" suppliers for Apple parts is also not going to discourage or prevent the theft of iPhone's for parts. Making the iPhone irreparable (except by Apple/Authorised repairers) and/or the parts unuseful (as described here: the display can be replaced but it breaks Face ID) are significantly more effective strategies for combatting theft and keeping iPhone owners safe.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      This is theoretically a solvable problem.

      When an iPhone is built the serial numbers of the various parts that have value (basically the display and the main board) can be linked to the phone's serial number in an Apple database. If a phone reported stolen, Apple can blacklist the serial number of those parts, and a phone with a different part than it originally had could check the new part against the blacklist.

      If someone legitimately sells or trades in their phone, nothing is reported stolen so the parts can be freely swapped. But if someone steals a phone a shady "repair shop" doesn't have much incentive to buy the stolen phone because if it gets reported stolen the parts are valueless. Even if they can quickly repair before that happens they'll have angry customers beating down their door a few days later so it would hardly be a recipe for long term business survival.

      This would accomplish the goal of making stolen phones worthless, while also allowing third party repair shops to operate without needing to have a relationship with Apple.

      1. aaaa
        Thumb Down

        Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

        @DS999

        Having each part of an iPhone be able to report a serial number? And Apple track all those serial numbers. And have 3rd party repairers access such information and update it. Reliably without bricking perfectly OK phones?

        Maybe in some utopian future - meanwhile, to save me having my phone stolen, just prevent 3rd party repairs - I'm perfectly OK with that - Apple repair costs are cheap.

        If u are not happy with restrictions on repairers: go buy a different phone - Android or whatever. You don't have to buy iPhone.

        1. Dave K Silver badge

          Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

          Clearly many parts of the iPhone already report their serial numbers - hence how the screen is "paired" with the rest of the device by Apple. And you are trying to suggest that a company the size of Apple isn't capable of maintaining a database of serial numbers with flags as to whether they're from handsets that are reported stolen?

          Really not sure why you're so against the idea of cheaply repairable devices. I understand the theft-for-parts concern, but surely there has to be a better way than blocking anything but super-expensive official Apple repairs.

          And for what it's worth, I'm not an iPhone user. However I do care about generating senseless electronic waste for no good reason.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

            Maintaining a database of serial numbers with parts that are stolen is impossible due to <checks excuse calandar> data storage constraints and data protection issues.

            These constraints won't prevent them from storing your web browsing and search histories, and the location that you were at the time though. Or selling that info to anybody who has the money to buy it, for that matter.

          2. Cereberus

            Who is right

            Commentard A states 'Apple repair costs are cheap'

            Commentard B states 'super-expensive official Apple repairs'

            Could both be right because one has money to burn and thinks anything less than the cost of a new phone is 'cheap', whilst the other has a better appreciation of the value of things.

            T3* claims the cost of replacing the screen is between £216 and £316 depending on the iPhone 13 version - how can anyone consider this to be cheap for what is one of the most likely parts of the screen to get damaged?

            I know you can protect it to some extent by using a screen protector or fold over case, but neither of these are fool proof and if you do break the screen the cost of replacing it is anything but cheap.

            Anything that can be done to challenge these kinds of costs for anyone who is happy to be locked into the Apple eco system can only be a good thing.

            *https://www.t3.com/news/watch-out-third-party-iphone-13-screen-repairs-can-break-face-id

    2. simonlb

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      Perhaps the reason people are stealing BMW's for parts is because their reliability these days - especially on certain models - is piss-poor and genuine parts are expensive, so it's cheaper and easier to get parts from one which has been broken up for spares.

      In any case, unnecessarily restricting a persons options for repairing a car or phone they have paid for and own is highly offensive and should be illegal. If I own something, it's up to me how I get it repaired or serviced, irrespective of whether it's two years old or ten years old. If the manufacturers want you to use their repair services and genuine spare parts, they should ensure their pricing is reasonable rather than downright obscene.

      1. badflorist

        Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

        "unnecessarily restricting a persons options..."

        ... for thieves.

        Imagine if there was databases like the ones discussed here for _ALL_ products. Effectively this would make a grand honey pot for those few rascal thieves.

        Meanwhile, you have to spend hours, upon hours, upon hours (possibly days in realtime) of your life registering products. Life would become so much easier as a thief than an honest Joe. I suspect there's people already under these database systems that are currently wondering "how to not get caught" (I know I've met a few Mercedes owners who've thought this).

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

          Why would you have to spend ANY time registering a product? Apple would keep the database that links display (and various other parts) serial number to phone serial number. The phone serial number is already linked to its owner via the Apple ID account that allows them to buy apps etc. They would just add a few more fields to that database (they'd only bother with the parts that cost a lot, no one is stealing phones to acquire $1 parts) that get filled in when you activate your new phone for the first time.

          If you have a display replaced neither you nor the repair guy would need to tell Apple that happened. The phone can ping Apple to update its serial number database next time it has internet access. So long as the part wasn't stolen and blacklisted that will be end of the matter and now the database contains the serial number of your new display so if you report your phone stolen that replacement display along with all its original parts would be blacklisted by Apple and valueless to thieves.

          Not sure what you are worried about with this "grand honey pot". How would I be hurt if someone found out the serial number of the display in my iPhone? How would they be able to use that against me? With all the information that companies have about us (think how many online shops have your name, address, email address and credit card number) I'm supposed to be worried that the serial number of my display will be leaked?? Or to continue the BMW example, why should I care if someone has the serial number of say a heated leather passenger seat?

    3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      The root cause of both the Apple and BMW situations is that the manufacturers rip customers off for parts and service. I have my car serviced by an independent workshop. If it needs new parts then they call me to ask if I want genuine or pattern parts and they tell me the price difference and any issues there might be with not using genuine parts. An an oil change is about 30% cheaper than the dealer and he doesn't charge me for topping up the screen wash - for which I assume the dealer uses heavy water given how much they charged me the first (and last) time I had it serviced there.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      I'm glad that we have independent repairers around here. The nearest Apple Store is an 8 hour round-trip away. If I need to get the screen replaced, it is pack it up and send it to an authorised repair centre and wait 2 weeks for it to be fixed and shipped back.

      Alternatively, a colleague runs a repair shop in his spare time and will replace a smartphone screen overnight.

      Lock up shady repairers who buy stolen parts and the thieves that steal the phones in the first place? Yes.

      Ban independent repair shops that use authorised new parts or high quality 3rd party components? No, no way.

      1. DrollLeek

        Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

        "I'm glad that we have independent repairers around here. The nearest Apple Store is an 8 hour round-trip away"

        I was waiting for the punchline "and I wouldn't be able to find it without the GPS."

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

          It is in Hannover, Incan find my way to the train station and get to Hannover without GPS.

    5. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      @aaaa... come on, seriously?

      Apple already effectively blocks many third-party repairs, yet iPhones are still frequently stolen. Kinda renders your enitre rant moot.

      You want to reduce theft? Try identifying the root causes, the societal problems that most tend to lead people into crime. I can all but guarantee that easy-to-repair iPhones won't feature anywhere on that list. Fix the underlying issues, don't conflate them with completely irrelevant subjects.

    6. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

      "no, the police won't investigate"

      "iPhone parts are expensive"

      Those are the problems. Not third party repair shops.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: make 3rd party repairs impossible

        Please tell us how you can make an LPTO OLED display with integrated touch layer cheap. Do you want to allow people to replace that with an LCD to save money?

        If so, how many people will be scammed when they buy a used iPhone and find it used a crappy low quality replacement screen (either because the original was broken or because they sold the original for a lot more than the crappy replacement cost)

  4. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    Cf. Renault

    Renault has been doing this for decades with their electronics - last time I checked, one couldn't easily transplant a stereo from one Espace to another, without asking nicely Renault themselves via their on-line service system. The main difference is that my local garage, not a fancy place at all, is able to do this, as long as they keep their subscription to the Renault system. They don't need to be an official Renault place, they just need to be registered with them and pay a (reasonable) fee. Renaults are not known to be stolen for their fancy electronics, like, say, Volkswagens with their all-in-one satellite navigation packages right in the middle of the dasboard, not protected at all a decade ago (I do hope they've done something about it since I last talked to a very upset Passat driver).

    I believe it has to do with the right to repair movement in the auto industry. The crucial difference being that in Europe the right to _cheaply_ repair agenda has been pushed and lobbied for by the insurance businesses, not those tiny little people who give us, important politicians, nothing more than their worthless votes and seem to think we will be paying for all those lovely holidays in the Carribean ourselves.

    1. Swedish Chef

      Re: Cf. Renault

      I think Opel (pre-PSA) had a pretty good solution.

      All expensive components in a car were "married" to each other and would not work outside that particular car.

      As long as they were inside the car (and the car saw a valid car key), you could quite easily "divorce" them and then "marry" them to another car. Meaning that it was reasonably easy to sell/use your own car for spare parts, but thieves has to either steal your car keys (at which point it's pretty much game over anyway) or go through an authorised Opel dealer.

      Apple could easily do something similar hidden behind a secret service menu or something.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Cf. Renault

        The same with my Ford Mondeo from 2005. The radio was locked to the EMU. Nick it from the car and it was useless.

        Turn on the motor and disable the lock on the radio and you could pull the radio out and put it into another vehicle.

    2. simonlb
      Trollface

      Re: Cf. Renault

      Renaults are not known to be stolen for their fancy mediocre electronics.

      FTFY

  5. Doctor Trousers

    i do wonder, and i realise that this is pure fantasy, but if all of us independent repair technicians were to start telling people "screw you for buying these damned things, if you want it fixed, you can pay through the nose to apple", would enough people stop buying them that it would harm apple's profits?

    1. Quando

      Doubt it - in ten+ years of owning many many iDevices I've needed one screen replacement (done by 3rd party) and two battery replacements (done for free by Apple).

      The vast majority of devices, or owners, never go near any 3rd party repair places so would notice no difference whatsoever if they stopped servicing Apple devices.

    2. jtaylor Bronze badge

      As deeply as I believe in the right to repair, it's not a deciding factor when I purchase a phone.

      I have an iPhone because they are supported longer than Android phones, (and secondarily because I don't like shovelware.) Ironically, that means my iPhone hardware costs less than comparable Androids, and it would take more than 1 bad repair experience to change that.

      If I could choose a repairable well-supported phone over a hostage one, of course I would. I don't have that power. Thus, I rely on consumer protection laws.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guarantee

    Changing the screen on an iPhone is not hard and can be done already.

    To change a fingerprint one you change the button, I have no problems with them having to change the chip.

    This guarantees that Mr X isn’t going to put any on and have their own I’d in to unlock or those 3rd party versions don’t have backdoors. It should continue as is, want known working security, take it to Apple.

    When it comes to the second hand market, it’s good to know the security is legit. The screens and cameras are of a certain quality and happy for them to code them to the phone, only so the OS can report as non-original as we all know replacement quality parts vary.

    I don’t want to be buying a 2nd hand phone to find a lower quality camera, screen that flattens battery like mad or has colour tint or possible hack able faceid at the same cost of an full original. The current owner may not even know.

    I also don’t want a buyer to try and lower price by saying the screen doesn’t look right etc.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Guarantee

      All true, but given that Apple, to some extent, trades on it's reputation for security, why do they rip customers off to repair the security elements of the phone?

  7. MrMerrymaker

    Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

    Though sure someone will tell me.

    Although I'm hardly pleased at the state of user-repairability for Android devices either...

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

      What I wonder is why people pay hundreds of euros/pounds/dollars for a phone, iPhone or otherwise. Myself, I have never bought any phone costing me more than around 170 €. You can get a good enough device that way, and losing or breaking it is not too great hardship.

      1. jtaylor Bronze badge

        Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

        "I have never bought any phone costing me more than around 170 €. You can get a good enough device that way, and losing or breaking it is not too great hardship."

        Same here. For my uses, a second-hand Apple iPhone provides years of everyday service, then a few more years as a podcast player and TV remote at home. My most expensive purchase was less than $200US.

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

      I'll bite.

      I'm firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem.

      It started when I went freelancing a dozen or so years ago. I bought an HP laptop that was such a piece of crap that I binned it after a year. My mate had a mac and said the OS wasn't a pain to transition to, so I bought one. When My Nokia came up for renewal a year or so later the phone company was doing a deal on iPhones...... and the rest is a bucketful of Apple kit.

      I tried to escape about a few years ago and bought an Android tablet. It was OK but I couldn't synch things like notes, ToDos, calendars, etc between devices without either having a gmail account or paying monthly or annual subs for apps. Also there was no way to synch music across devices and podcasts were problematic. I'm sure I could have made it work and I didn't try very hard, but the interoperability was a deal-breaker for me.

      I haven't bought a new Apple device for 4 years. My current kit is an iPhone 1st gen SE + spare from 2017, iPad Pro from 2016, MBA from 2015 + spare from 2013, a bunch of iPods and a couple of Time Machines cos they make backup and recovery easy.* The fact that Apple supports devices for quite a while is good, but I think I might buy an SE Gen 2 this year before they discontinue them. The MBAs won't get upgraded until they die or become unsupported.

      I've only ever had three repairs: a broken PSU in an MBA which the local Apple shop repaired for free while I waited and two battery replacements in the iPhone SEs to take advantage of the special offer when they were busted for throttling CPUs.

      *Before anyone dives in - other non-Apple backup strategies are also in place.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

        I dumped my work android phone because the one I was using at the time had a habit of not giving me notifications that I had an incoming call, which is kind of important when one is on call and stuff breaks at 2 am. (the voicemail notification functionality was also broken, but that was due to some other carrier level shenanigans that I was unaware of at the time.)

        The other reason I went apple was the lack of forced bloatware from the carrier- I had no reasons to have sports apps, games, and other crap on a company-issue phone, but the thing came with it anyway, and I could uninstall it or even disable some of it. Sure, Apple has their own amount of bloatware, but all it does is take up space on the storage, but if it's not running, it doesn't take up cpu or memory, unlike the bloatware on the android phone.

      2. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge

        Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

        It was OK but I couldn't synch things like notes, ToDos, calendars, etc between devices without either having a gmail account or

        So not too different from apple requiring your to have an account with them.

        Coming from the android side myself, after the manufacturer decided my phone was EoL I just switched to custom / 3rd party ROM's

        1. jtaylor Bronze badge

          Re: Why anyone goes Apple I don't know

          "Coming from the android side myself, after the manufacturer decided my phone was EoL I just switched to custom / 3rd party ROM's"

          When I recently tried to install LineageOS on my EOL Android phone, I discovered that the bootloader is locked. Apparently, this was locked in an update shortly before support ended. If I bought an Android phone now, I don't know how to choose one that I could re-install later after the vendor drops support.

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