Apple’s Self-Repair Program Has a Long Way to Go

This is in addition to the fact that Apple makes many products that are not user-upgradable, sometimes in the name of possible performance gains or improved experiences. Things like soldered NAND chips, proprietary screws, and components that are only sold at Apple-authorized repair shops continue to limit how much customers and third-party repair shops can do themselves.

As tech blog KnowTechie wrote this week, it can be difficult for these repair shops to find certain MacBook components, sometimes resulting in full logic board replacements when a cheap chip fails and higher repair costs for consumers.

Give Apple some credit

We’ve detailed some of the flaws in Apple’s self-repair program, but it’s still in its infancy. So far, it only concerns the MacBook M1, the latest iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 line, and the iPhone 13 series. Apple plans to bring the program to other unspecified Macs later this year.

As it stands, however, the program represents an improvement for Apple, which just a year ago shared only a small number of repair manuals online. Now, not only does it provide manuals for modern iPhones and some MacBooks, albeit with some of the lost iMac manuals, but it also has a system for buying parts at generally reasonable prices and buying or renting tools.

Apple has also allowed independent repairs for parts that previously you couldn’t fix yourself or had to be repaired by an Apple Authorized Partner, such as the Touch ID Board.

Also, the MacBook Air manuals have been met with a warmer appreciation and Apple should, if you believe it, sell M1 MacBook Pro batteries without any cases…eventually.

Yes, the tool rental process requires a significant security deposit and some literal freight. And there are still many products that have not yet been accounted for in the store. Still, considering that it wasn’t too long ago that Apple was actively pushing against right-to-repair legislation, the company seems to have made incremental improvements.

That doesn’t mean Apple is now your neighborhood tech giant with the right to repair. But at least it’s showing a willingness to play ball… even if it then wraps that ball up with cumbersome repair instructions, an imperfect tool rental process, and IMEI requirements.

Despite its criticisms, iFixit agreed that Apple’s efforts deserve some applause.

“We’re very happy to see Apple finally moving toward a more open repair ecosystem,” Chamberlain said. “We’re definitely reading it as a sign that Apple knows it has to make some concessions to the Right to Repair movement.”

What would be even more promising is to see Apple’s approach to repairability evolve. It has not yet addressed current concerns such as IMEI requirements. And, for better or worse, there’s no talk of Apple dramatically changing design strategies to make its luxury devices easier to take apart and repair or upgrade at home.

However, we await Apple’s next addition to the self-service repair shop to see if it takes notes on things like greater product representation (bringing back those iMac manuals would be a good start) and offering simpler processes for tasks common, such as the battery. replacement

This story originally appeared on Ars Technique.

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