The launch of Apple’s Self-Service Repair Store today was seen as a huge win for the DIY repair crowd. But one aspect of the store doesn’t sit well with repair website iFixit.
In a blog post, iFixit goes over the pros and cons with the Self-Service Repair Store, which is currently offering tools and replacement parts for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and third-gen iPhone SE. Its main gripe 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 rep also tells PCMag: “When ordering a display, battery, or camera you must have a serial number or IMEI for each part you are ordering. During system configuration (which applies to the iPhone 12 and 13) we can only complete system configuration on the serial number that was used during 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. So family, friends and third-party repair experts can’t buy parts from Apple’s site to fix your phone unless they know the serial number.
“Apple is doubling down on their parts pairing strategy, enabling only very limited, serial number-authorized repairs,” says Elizabeth Chamberlain, iFixit’s director of sustainability. “This strategy hamstrings third-party repair with feature loss and scare tactics and could dramatically limit options for recyclers and refurbishers, short-circuiting the circular economy.”
In contrast, if you use a third-party replacement component to fix an iPhone, you can do so without going through a system configuration step, according to iFixit. However, the iOS software onboard will flag the component as an “unknown part,” depending on the iPhone model.
Although Chamberlain describes Apple’s Self-Service Repair Store as a step in the right direction, she points to the IMEI serial number check as a “dire omen” that may signal Cupertino will try to limit unofficial repairs in other ways.
“A true right to repair will give independent repair shops a chance to compete in the repair marketplace, bringing down the cost of repairs…