Apple’s New Repair Policy Isn’t a Total Fix

It’s a step in the right direction, but the company still has a ton of control over your iPhone

Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero
Published in
5 min readSep 6, 2019

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Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash

LLast week, Apple made a stunning change to its repair policy. After years of tightly controlling who can fix its devices, independent repair shops will now be able to buy parts and get repair guides directly from Apple without paying the tech giant. But while the move sounds like a change of heart, it may be just the smokescreen Apple needs to avoid Right to Repair laws that could cost it a lot more in the long run.

Prior to the change, Apple’s preferred method for users to repair their iPhone would be to take it to an Apple store or what is known as an Apple-Authorized Service Provider (AASP). The latter third parties had strict limitations. They had to pay Apple in order to qualify for the program, and Apple would only allow them to perform certain common repairs like replacing a battery or screen. For other repairs, even those that might be just as simple — like replacing a charging port or camera — they would be required to send the customer’s phone back to Apple itself.

This made life hard for independent repair shops. Their choices were either to comply with Apple’s rules — limiting both their choice in parts suppliers and services they could offer — or to remain “unauthorized” and lose access to official Apple parts entirely. It also wasn’t great for consumers. They got a few more places you could turn to for a battery or screen replacement, but for the most part their options were still just as limited. The only one this arrangement seemed good for was Apple.

For years, the Right to Repair movement, which believes that consumers should have the freedom to fix their gadgets on their own terms, has pushed for legislation that would force manufacturers to sell replacement parts to everyone — not just the repair shops they choose — and publish the documentation necessary to repair their products.

“This isn’t Right to Repair. It’s more like Apple deciding who has the Right to Repair.”

Historically, Apple has resisted such legislation. While the new Independent Repair Provider (or IRP) program may seem like…

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Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero

Eric Ravenscraft is a freelance writer from Atlanta covering tech, media, and geek culture for Medium, The New York Times, and more.