The launch of Apple’s self-service repair shop today was seen as a huge win for the DIY repair crowd. But one aspect of the store doesn’t match the iFixit repair site.
In a blog post, iFixit covers the ins and outs of the Self-Service Repair Store, which currently offers tools and replacement parts for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and iPhone SE 3rd generation. Their main complaint is that Apple is requiring consumers to first submit a valid IMEI serial number for their iPhone before they can order the necessary replacement part.
An Apple support representative also told PCMag: “When ordering a monitor, battery or camera, you must have a serial number or IMEI for each part you are ordering. During system setup (which applies to iPhone 12 and 13), we can only complete system setup on the serial number that was used at the time of purchase.”
As a result, any part you buy from the store (at least theoretically) will only work on a single iPhone – the one for which you provided the IMEI number. Therefore, family, friends and third-party repair specialists cannot buy parts from Apple’s website to fix their phone unless they know the serial number.
“Apple is doubling down on its parts pairing strategy, allowing only very limited, serial number-authorized repairs,” says Elizabeth Chamberlain, sustainability director at iFixit. options for recyclers and refurbishers, short-circuiting the circular economy.”
On the other hand, if you use a third-party replacement component to fix an iPhone, you can do it without going through a system setup step, according to iFixit. However, the built-in iOS software will flag the component as an “unknown part” depending on your iPhone model.
While Chamberlain describes Apple’s self-service repair shop as a step in the right direction, she points to checking the IMEI serial number as a “terrible omen” that could signal that Cupertino will try to limit unofficial repairs in other ways.
“A true repair entitlement will give independent repair shops the chance to compete in the repair market, reducing the cost of repairs for everyone. Unfortunately, this program extends the freedom to repair with one hand and lock the door with the other,” he adds.
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Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a document about their repair approach, Cupertino says that “System Setup is a post-repair software tool that completes the repair of genuine Apple parts and ensures that a genuine Apple part – designed, tested and manufactured to Apple’s quality and performance standards – has been installed.
“The running system configuration has multiple purposes that vary depending on the part replaced. For example, monitors, cameras, battery and ambient light sensors have custom calibration values for each individual part during manufacturing. Transferring these values ensures maximum performance and quality after a repair,” adds Apple.
For those with Android devices, iFixit has agreements with Google and Samsung to offer replacement parts for the companies’ phones.
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