back to article Apple's self-repair service finally launches after months of silence

After five months of silence on the state of its self-service repair program, Apple has finally launched it for US customers. Apple initially made the world aware of its intention to launch a self-service repair program in November 2021, surprising many an Apple watcher used to the company's checkered history with the right-to …

  1. Nifty Silver badge

    Will the same rules stay in place for the UK?

    - Repair shops have to have audited premises, be part of a formal Apple scheme and not be a repairer for other brands or stock other brands' parts.

    - Apple parts only available to order based on a customer repair request.

    And yada yada.

    Last fix I had was a no-name battery for my iPhone 7, fitted for £40 all-in, done in 20 mins at some blokes home workshop while I took a walk around the block. Would definitely have paid a bit extra for an Apple OEM battery, but under current Apple restrictive practice that wasn't going to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The problem I’ve had in the past with their party replacement parts is quality (or lack of). Screens that work but are not as clear / sharp as original. Batteries that work but lack longevity or worse expand. In fact as my phone is usually in my pocket, battery quality is extremely important. Those things are not nice when they are defective…

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I used to do regular screen and battery replacement on iphones up to version 7. I found that the non OEM batteries I could buy were better than the Apple ones, would give more battery life and last more charge/discharge cycles.

        Screens were variable quality. I rejected quite a few for pinky casts.

        I stopped doing this for other people when Apple started selling phones as water resistant.

    2. Mishak Silver badge

      I paid £49 to get the battery swapped in my iPhone 7, and that was at an Apple store (drop off, walk about for a bit, pick up).

      1. Nifty Silver badge

        I asked for exactly that service once at the Reading Apple store and was turned down flat.

  2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

    When I saw "self repair", I immediately imagined a Terminator-style device remoulding itself from liquidy metal after being shotgunned. Wouldn't put it past 'em... although if it really "absolutely will not stop until you are dead", that might dent their sales model a bit.

  3. Eric Kimminau TREG

    Not 100% "self" repair

    I just took a quick look here https://www.selfservicerepair.com/order at both the display and battery repairs. Both include "important information" that reads:

    "This part requires the System Configuration software tool. After performing the repair, contact us by chat or phone to initiate System Configuration."

    System Configuration requires a strong Wi-Fi network capable of 1.0 Mbps download and upload speeds, with less than 400 ms latency and less than 2% packet loss. Estimated data usage to run System Configuration is 6–22 MB. The device must be running the latest version of iOS and not a beta version.

    A System Configuration step may be required at the end of your repair. System Configuration is a postrepair software tool that completes the repair for genuine Apple parts. Running System Configuration has a number of purposes that vary based on the part replaced.

    What System Configuration does

    1) Transfers factory calibration values

    2) Links Secure Element and biometric authentication parts

    3) Ensures repair integrity

    4) Assigns wireless region

    5) Updates firmware

    Why it’s important

    1) Certain parts like displays, cameras, and ambient light sensors have calibration values that are customized to each individual part during manufacturing. Transferring these values ensures maximum performance and quality after a repair.

    2) After repair of a logic board or a biometric authentication part (Touch ID or Face ID), linking the biometric sensors to the Secure Enclave on the logic board is required to ensure device security.

    3) After a hardware repair, software checks are performed to ensure repair integrity. Repair integrity means that a genuine Apple part has been correctly installed.

    4) To comply with regional communications regulations, a wireless region must be assigned to your logic board. Updates firmware

    5) Keeping firmware up to date ensures that the device has all the latest security and performance features.

    So no installing an iphone 12 or iphone 13 battery in your iphone 11.

    I particularly like:

    • The heated display removal fixture softens adhesive to allow separation of the display from the enclosure. The fixture is used with a heated display pocket designed for the device’s specific dimensions.

    • The display press applies the appropriate amount of pressure to secure new adhesive during display installation. The display press is used with a repair tray and display adhesive press plate designed for the device’s specific dimensions.

    • The battery press applies the appropriate amount of pressure to secure new adhesive during battery installation. The battery press is used with a repair tray designed for the device’s specific dimensions.

    • Never reinstall a screw after it has been removed. Install only new screws. iPhone screw grooves are covered in adhesive that can’t be reused.

    • Use only the torque driver indicated to install new screws during reassembly. Both overtightened screws and loose screws can damage parts.

    I especially like:

    How to handle a battery thermal event

    A battery thermal event is a rapid chemical chain reaction that occurs inside a battery cell. The energy stored in the battery is released suddenly, which can cause outgassing and fire. A battery thermal event can be triggered by physical damage to the battery, improper replacement or repair, or temperatures outside the battery’s operating range.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Not 100% "self" repair

      Why is the system configuration thing a problem? You call Apple and they help you through that step. If they said "you need to pay $1000 for the software" or "you need to be licensed repair shop with $1 million in annual business to be eligible to get this software" I could see your objection.

      Sounds like this is a free service that may require a few minutes extra, to provide the exact same repair you could formerly get only at an Apple Store.

      And an iPhone 11 battery WILL NOT FIT in an iPhone 12 or 13, the system configuration step has nothing to do with that.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Not 100% "self" repair

        So what happens when a ton of people need to call in to repair their devices?

        Are they going to have a lot of folks trained in this apparently very complicated system configuration utility?

        Or will it be "estimated wait time to talk to a service tech is 3 hours, 45 minutes"?

        And what if you're running beta iOS? According to their requirements list, you're just out in the cold.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Not 100% "self" repair

          How much self serve repair do you really expect? They could probably have a small room of people ready to answer the phone and handle the demand. Can't imagine it would take more than a few minutes per call.

          Where does it say the system config utility is "complicated"? Apple won't let end users do it because it would defeat the goal of tying subassemblies to a phone - which is to prevent theft by not allowing people to use parts from a stolen phone to fix another phone. So today you can buy parts from Apple, and hopefully there will eventually be a way to use parts from one phone to fix another providing you can prove the phone it came out of was legally obtained.

          As for the beta iOS, you can downgrade to a public release, so it isn't the show stopper you are making it out to be. Yeah that's an added hassle, but there are risks inherent in running a beta OS. Having a bit of extra hassle with self service repair is now among them I guess.

          1. Falmari Silver badge

            Re: Not 100% "self" repair

            I don’t see why the “System Configuration software tool” being accessed over the internet makes it less than 100% self-repair. What difference does it make if one tool is run online rather than locally?

            Take replacing a battery for the iPhone 12. It requires purchasing the parts for $70.99 (the same price it charges repair affiliates) with $24.15 credit when the battery is returned. The repair requires Apple tools that can be purchased or rented for $49. Finally, the System Configuration software tool must be run which is accessed online.

            None of this would be any different for an Apple authorized repair network repairer to replace a battery. They would purchase the parts use the Apple tools which they most likely have purchased rather than rent. Then run the System Configuration software tool almost certainly online as well.

            Basically, your costs are the same just unlike an authorised repairer you would rent the tools for a one-off job. They will have bought them as they will be using them more than once.

            Requiring special tools does make repair more costly it would be better for all if they were not needed. But $49 to rent the tools for a week seems like a good deal.

            1. DS999 Silver badge

              Re: Not 100% "self" repair

              And you really don't need to rent or use Apple's tools. You do if you want your repair fully supported by Apple, but iFixit sells a much cheaper version of those tools. Maybe they don't work quite as well but many people have done it with iFixit's $30 or so kit that uses suction cups instead of a fancy heat box to pull the phone apart.

              I replaced the batteries for a girlfriend's and her sister's phones (iPhone 6S I think) some years ago using iFixit's stuff, it worked fine. I could see wanting Apple's tools if you are going to make a living at this, or are working on a brand new phone (i.e. you broke the display and didn't buy Applecare+) but if you are e.g. replacing the battery the phone will be old enough that the risk of something going wrong probably isn't worth the extra cost of renting Apple's kit.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Not 100% "self" repair

                >And you really don't need to rent or use Apple's tools. You do if you want your repair fully supported by Apple, but iFixit sells a much cheaper version of those tools.

                Agree,

                but haven't Apple entered into some form of agreement with iFixit?

                To me its a bit like tools such as phone/RJ45 crimping tools. I only need the tools to be able to do a handful of crimps, whereas a professional installer will want tools that can do hundreds of crimps and make the job easy. Okay the price difference between these tools isn't particularly large, but the principle is the same.

                Personally, with the increasing use of glues, micro latches, connectors and screws, I find it quicker to get my local repair shop to do the work, as not only do they have the full workbench of tools but also have done sufficient to be proficient at the job.

      2. Eric Kimminau TREG

        Re: Not 100% "self" repair

        Its a problem because it isn't "self repair". Its "required Apple assistance repair".

        I HAVE to work with apple, on their timeline with their priority to repair the device.

        "Self repair" would be "Heres the tool to reset the bios/set the battery serial number in the phone frmware."

  4. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Stop Buying Apple Product

    When their multi-billions in profits disappear you'll be amazed how well Cupertino execs will listen to you then.

    Just look how Intel is "engaging" with their customers today. Loss of income turns cooperate suits into human beings pretty damned quickly.

    1. ArrZarr

      Re: Stop Buying Apple Product

      In the case of Intel, it turns corporate suits who can save money be easing off the gas on R&D into corporate suits who need to get back into the game.

      In the case of Apple, it would turn corporate suits who can demand an outrageous Apple tax into corporate suits who wouldn't be able to demand an outrageous Apple tax.

      Nothing human in the before or after for either.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Parts???

    FFS we can get parts.

    What we need is for a full factory reset that will actually register them.

  6. Grunchy Bronze badge

    I just replaced the screen & battery on my 1st gen iPhone SE — the iPhone 6 version. Well, the old battery bulged and was causing the old screen to separate. This is the last model that works with the original FLIR One infrared camera that also doubles as a battery extender. How soon before normal iPhones get FLIR capability? I might be persuaded to “upgrade” if and when. In the meantime, man, you cannot beat the pocketability of the 1st gen SE model. Plus I only paid $100 for it second hand several years ago!

  7. DenTheMan

    Bizarre bazaar

    Apple does everything it can to make their devices barely or proprietary repairable.

    Then they decide to sell the stuff so you can pay up to mess up tthe semi repairable device.

    This one will go round and round.

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