Here’s a pleasant — and frankly unexpected — update from Apple. The company just announced Self Service Repair, a new program designed to let users perform common repairs on devices at home. Through the program, users with damaged devices will be sent “Apple genuine” tools and components — same as the ones they use at the Genius Bar.
The company will also be offering up online repair manuals (text, not video), accessible through the new Apple Self Service Repair Online Store. The system is similar to the one the company rolled out for Independent Repair Providers (of which there are currently 2,800 in the U.S. plus 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers), beginning with the iPhone 12 and 13, focused on display, battery and camera fixes. A similar service for M1Macs will be launching “soon” after.
“Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” COO Jeff Williams said in a release tied to the announcement. “In the past three years, Apple has nearly doubled the number of service locations with access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and training, and now we’re providing an option for those who wish to complete their own repairs.”
Apple hasn’t listed specific prices yet, but customers will get a credit toward the final fee if they mail in the damaged component for recycling. When it launches in the U.S. in early-2022, the store will offer some 200 parts and tools to consumers. Performing these tasks at home won’t void the device’s warranty, though you might if you manage to further damage the product in the process of repairing it — so hew closely to those manuals. After reviewing that, you can purchase parts from the Apple Self Service Repair Online Store.
The news comes during a time of increasing push for right to repair legislation that has been opposed by some of the biggest names in consumer electronics. The Library of Congress recently approved exemptions to the DMCA that blocked user repair. Even the president has gotten in on the act, following a May letter to Congress from the FTC, which noted, “To address unlawful repair restrictions, the FTC will pursue appropriate law enforcement and regulatory options, as well as consumer education, consistent with our statutory authority. The Commission also stands ready to work with legislators, either at the state or federal level, in order to ensure that consumers have choices when they need to repair products that they purchase and own.”
Advocates of increased repairability cite numerous concerns, including lowering the pricing burden of planned obsolescence, as well as growing global concerns around e-waste — the latter of which has been a cause championed by Apple over the past several years. As smartphone tech has become more advanced, the devices have become increasingly more difficult to repair at home. It’s a long way from the days of swappable batteries — concerns that have given rise to a boutique crop of products like Fairphone, which put user repairability out front.
Apple’s new program will be rolling out to additional countries later next year. The company is clearly still encouraging users to bring their devices in for repair at a licensed shop when circumstances allow (particularly in the case of those covered by AppleCare+), but for the many who’d rather take matters into their own hands, this is a nice a step.