Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro: A Mixed Bag for Independent Repair
The iPhone 15 Pro and Independent Repairs
Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro has been designed in a way that appears to deter independent repairs, as revealed by an electronics technician and YouTuber from Australia. After spending several hours swapping original components between two new iPhone 15 Pro devices, it was discovered that Apple continues to limit the capability of the device for self-repair through software locks. This is a similar approach to what has been seen in prior models like the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 13, and iPhone 12.
The iPhone devices do not check if the components are original, but rather if they have been paired to the motherboard by Apple’s proprietary software. This pairing enables the device to operate without error messages. The paired parts include the screen, the cameras, and the battery.
The iPhone 15 Pro: Enhanced Repairability but Limited Swappability
On the positive side, the iPhone 15 Pro uses a glass back, making it easier to replace than previous models. It also transitions to a USB-C charging port, in line with European legislation requiring these ports from 2024. This move reduces Apple’s ability to charge payments from cable and accessory manufacturers for the MFI (Made For iPhone) standard, which was essential to maximize the capabilities of the connection.
However, replacing the screen, battery, and cameras will cause the device to display an “Unrecognized Part” message, even if they are original Apple components. This is likely to raise suspicion among customers of independent technicians, as if the technician had installed a counterfeit and substandard component, even if it is an original part from an identical device.
The Right to Repair Movement
The new Apple program, currently in the U.S., stands out as a result of the social struggle to anchor the right to repair in legislation, which also takes place in the European Union. The struggle focuses on the right to repair a device but is also accompanied by an environmental value of reducing electronic waste and also a statement on the issue of ownership.
In Israel, Apple has a compromise agreement with its distributors, i-Digital and iCon Group, to pay a maximum compensation of NIS 2.4 million (NIS 70-1050 per consumer) for the inability to repair iPod and iPad devices, compared to an original class-action lawsuit of NIS 10 million. This is an achievement of the Consumer Council, which was achieved only 15 years after the first complaint on the subject.
The Issue of Spare Parts
On the one hand, the law requires Apple’s representatives in Israel to provide original spare parts during the first 12 months of the warranty on the device. On the other hand, Apple, as a policy, refrains from supplying almost any type of spare parts at any time and prefers to replace devices. Another advantage for independent technicians is that in most cases they can preserve the existing information on the device while Apple’s procedure is to erase it, leading to the loss of any information not backed up in the cloud.
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