Last year, Apple proved it could still surprise when it announced a Self Service Repair plan. The offering is still limited, and the company — as ever — recommends users take their products in to get fixed, rather than potentially damaging them further. Even so, it marked a major shift for a company that has mostly frowned on self-repair.
This morning, Samsung announced its own take on the category. The new program kicks off for Galaxy S20, S21 and Tab S7+ owners, offering tools, parts and guides to repair things like displays, back glass and charging ports. The company plans to continue adding additional phones to the lineup, going forward. My suspicion is we won’t be seeing foldable display panels added to the list, due to their relative complexity, but time will tell.
Interestingly, the news finds Samsung partnering with the teardown specialists at iFixit. It’s not a dig at Apple exactly, though the iPhone maker has been dinged over repairability issues quiet a bit over the years. Though the site did credit Apple’s decision last year, noting, “Apple is finally acknowledging that lots of us have the technical know-how to fix our own stuff.”
Per the Samsung deal, iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens notes, “We are excited to be consulting with Samsung to help them develop a solution for DIY parts and repair Information. Every time you fix a device, you’re helping the planet.”
That last bit is, naturally, a big selling point in the press material surrounding this news. Samsung has been making a lot of noise around sustainability in recent years, including a reduction in packaging and utilizing more repurposed materials in its devices. Of course, the most surefire way to eliminate e-waste is simply building and buying fewer electronics. User-repairability — if done right — can extend the life of existing products.
The big shadow looming over all of this is possible legislation being introduced both nationally and in state senates designed to give consumers more power. The implementation of these services can be seen — at least in part — as a proactive defense against potential legislation. Essentially something companies can point to as a way of showing that, actually, they’re on the consumers’ side with this one.
The service is slated to arrive this summer.