back to article Apple to allow some iPhones to be repaired with used parts

The right to repair movement just scored a major win with Apple's announcement that it plans to begin supporting iPhone repairs with used parts this fall.  On Thursday Apple said it would begin allowing used parts to be installed in "select iPhone models" this fall. It's not clear from Apple's release which models will be …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it plans to begin"

    Oh great. Sounds like me when I tell my wife that I'll be mowing the lawn "this week".

    The only difference is, I will, 'cause if I don't, it'll only get worse.

  2. cornetman Silver badge

    > Of course, you might ask, what's to stop miscreants from stealing iPhones to sell for parts?

    Well I guess it's breaking the law. But then you could make exactly the same argument for practically anything that has ever been made.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      No, you couldn't, because parts stolen from, for example, a car, aren't then used to repair a device that is then always connected to the internet - and thus potentially a database of stolen parts. For that matter, cars have had windows coded to a particular vehicle for decades.

      It would behove the self-interested 'right to repair' spokesfolk to acknowledge the benefit to the end user of not having their phone stolen, slyly or violently, for parts.

      Once they do, we can better move towards a system of whitelisted parts from damaged phones being used for repairs.

      The RTR folk should also acknowledge that durability and longevity are just as important factors as repairability. As should the media who give them free press to fill column inches. But hey, they've got tools to sell you.

      If they do so, they will be more effective at highlighting where Apple et al actually are profiteering from selling new replacement parts.

      The required arithmetic really isn't that tricky.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        That's a straw man and you know it.

        Supply chain verification has been a thing longer than iPhone.

        I'm sure pretty much every consumer agrees on the durability front, but Apple just make more money if everyone buys a whole new phone from them every time they drop it.

      2. cornetman Silver badge

        > No, you couldn't, because parts stolen from, for example, a car, aren't then used to repair a device that is then always connected to the internet - and thus potentially a database of stolen parts. For that matter, cars have had windows coded to a particular vehicle for decades.

        I'm pretty sure chop-shops are a thing.

        And they are illegal.

      3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        The online access to a database of stolen parts doesn't require pairing by active intervention: the phone has merely to ask - once - hey, mothership, here's new bit: is it on the stolen list? If so, restrict operation and make loud noises; if not, include the part on a manifest on the phone and carry on as normal.

        But... any statistics to hand on the amount of stolen phones anyway? In my innocence I thought that was a thing that had gone away now everyone has one - iphone or android. Or are Apple suggesting that as soon as second hand spares can be used to replace broken parts that gangs will be out there, hunting down iphones?

      4. dt545

        > cars have had windows coded to a particular vehicle for decades

        I thought that was to provide another way to identify stolen cars if the reg / VIN plates were removed.

        Not to prevent reuse of windows from scrapped cars.

        So not really 'pairing' as such.

        But I may be wrong.

      5. I could be a dog really Bronze badge

        Marking the windows is merely there to stop the very simple "steal a car, swap the number plates with those from a scrappy, sell it" model. It doesn't stop the sale of used parts - especially for vehicles where spares are a) fairly expensive, and b) easy to strip off the vehicle. A few years ago now, I recall a scrap yard in Yorkshire was found to be dismantling stolen Land Rover Defenders on an almost industrial scale - those having the benefit of being easy to strip down in a few hours, and having a lot of parts with a high resale value. More recently, it's been keyless entry Range Rovers since thieves worked out how to (very easily) capture signals from the key fob in the house and relay them to the car so it would open and start.

        Pairing is indeed a double edged sword. As we've seen with John Deere, it can be abused by the manufacturer to tie the vehicle owner into their spares and servicing, even for parts where there is zero justification. BMW started the journey down this road a few decades ago when they introduced the "service light" that could only be reset by your main stealer and hence you either always had the light on or you had to pay the main stealer for a service - it wasn't a DIY proposition to service the car and reset the light (at least, until third parties reverse engineered the relatively simple protocol and sold resetting tools).

        These days, the protocols are much more sophisticated, and backed up by a) strong encryption, and b) the film industry with their "anyone who tried to break any encryption no matter how poor it may be or how genuine their reasons must be a criminal and locked up" law (a.k.a. DMCA). So except where a specific exemption has been declared, in the US it's illegal to try and defeat systems such as those used by Apple and John Deere which have the primary intent of driving profitable business into your services arm (the safety and security arguments are just a smokescreen for the commercial gouging behind the moves). In part I think we can thank John Deere because their blatant abuse has brought the matter to the attention of the legislators - if your phone doesn't work it's generally just an inconvenience, if your tractor or combine doesn't work at harvest time it can cost a LOT of money if it means losing part of your crop to the weather.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Things that are illegal but profitable

      Continue to be done, and no amount of draconian enforcement or long prison sentences will ever change that. Witness the drug trade.

      The best way to stop illegal but profitable things from happening are not more laws or putting more people in prison for more years. We've tried that in the US with the "war on drugs" for 50 years and it hasn't achieved shit. No the best way to stop it is to make it less profitable. Today stolen iPhones are nearly valueless because you can't unlock or wipe them to use as is, and you can't reuse most of the parts inside (the back glass, which AFAIK has no electronics in it unless the wireless charging is integrated into it, may be the one higher value part that's an exception)

      The US government was forced to admit this nearly 100 years ago when everyone realized all prohibition accomplished was to cause a massive influx of money into organized crime. Once they made bootlegging unprofitable by repealing prohibition, it almost entirely disappeared overnight (at least in places that didn't have their own backwards laws against alcohol) The states that have fully legalized marijuana have seen a similar huge drop in illegal sales. People still try to dodge the taxes (like they have long done with tobacco) but the violent crime associated with it has mostly disappeared.

  3. DS999 Silver badge

    Banning parts pairing would be a really bad move

    That makes phone theft profitable, whereas today the phone you steal is mostly useless so phone thefts are way down from where they were in the mid 2010s.

    Apple is doing it right. Belatedly, but right. Allow use of parts from phones legally acquired, but phones that are illegally acquired (and still have activation lock in place) will continue to be useless. No more getting permission from Apple, you just can just put the parts in place and they'll be automatically linked to the phone they are being placed in - so if it is later scrapped for parts those parts could be used in a third phone. BTW you can disable activation lock via the web, so even if the phone is completely dead that can be done.

    It is certainly a justifiable complaint that this is only in place for newer phones, but other than that I can't see why there would be any objections. Stolen phones will continue to be useless to the thief which benefits all iPhone owners and doesn't hurt legitimate third party repair shops. Used/broken phones can now be freely scavenged for parts and re-used to repair others without any involvement by or permission from Apple.

    Why exactly would people feel a need to ban parts pairing, when it is FINALLY being done the way I have long suggested in plenty of posts on this site that Apple could/should do?

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Banning parts pairing would be a really bad move

      I find it interesting that people are downvoting without saying why. What's your particular objection to Apple's plan, other than "Apple sucks"?

      1. Solviva

        Re: Banning parts pairing would be a really bad move

        So why do folks still find it worthwhile riding on mopeds round cities (London, maybe others) swiping phones from zombie-pedestrians?

  4. 43300 Silver badge

    How big of them!

    Until a few years ago most electronic devices could be repaired using parts cannibalised from a broken one - and many still can be, of course. This is only a (partial) move back towards that. The 'but they might be stolen' justification for making it difficult is rather a straw man argument - this could equally apply to parts used to repair absolutely anything.

    Incidentally, why are iDevices always referred to in fruity-speak in the singular and without a definite article (e.g. - from the article - 'critical to preserving the privacy, security, and safety of iPhone', or - from the Apple website - 'expore all iPad'). It comes across as a combination of pretentiousness and illiteracy.

  5. simonlb Silver badge

    Usual Bullshit Bingo Weasel Words

    Apple said that it considers parts pairing "critical to preserving the privacy, security, and safety of iPhone."

    My bullshit meter exploded when I read that line. How the hell does it make the devices more private, secure or safe? And people wonder why Apple get a lot of haters.

    1. JWLong

      Re: Usual Bullshit Bingo Weasel Words

      Thank You

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