As The IPhone Disaster Continues, Apple’s Self-repair Program Has Been Tried

Last month, Apple launched its first in-house repair program, giving you access to parts, tools, and instructions to fix your iPhone. When it was announced last year, it caused quite a stir. Because it was a turning point in the Right to Fix movement, which for more than a decade has urged tech companies to create resources to help us revive electronics.

It was also music to my ears. As someone who became a freelancer during the pandemic, I was excited to try out new Apple software on my iPhone.

“How hard?” I thought.

Very difficult.

For someone like me with little electronics repair experience, the automatic repair setup was so intimidating that I almost lost it. I put a $1210 hold on my credit card to rent a £75 repair kit. The repair kit came home in a hard plastic box. The process at that time was so inexcusable that it destroyed the iPhone screen in an instant with an irreversible error.

Disaster unfolded when I called Shakeel Tayeb, an expert, an independent phone repair technician in South San Francisco, for help. After reading Apple’s guide and using the tool with me, Tayeb said he praised Apple for trying to empower iPhone owners, but said it was harsh.

“They were making customers fail,’ he said.

I have come to the conclusion that self-repair programs are not realistic for most people. First, the cost of renting equipment and buying parts from Apple ($96 for an iPhone 12 battery replacement) was higher than the $69 Apple Store fee to get the job done. And in my experience, even with Apple devices, the process was difficult.

Apple does not recommend that most people attempt to repair themselves. “The safest and most reliable repairs for most of our customers are through Apple Stores and thousands of authorized repair centers,” the company said in a white paper last month. “Repairing modern electronic devices that are complex, highly integrated and compact is not easy.”

This begs the question of why Apple introduced a self-repair program in the first place. It’s no coincidence that the Federal Trade Commission took action last year after it said it would tighten enforcement against tech companies, making it harder for people to fix their electronic devices.

And now, the story of my defeat.

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ready to repair

We start by visiting the Apple Self Service Repair Program website, There I found the service manual for the iPhone 12 I wanted to fix and ordered the tools. (Apple’s current programs include how-to guides for iPhones released in the last two years.)

I checked the instructions for the iPhone 12 and it worked fine, but it could be due to the new battery. The steps seemed simple enough. Use the machine to melt the glue, take out the phone screen, remove the screws and battery, use another machine to install the new battery, then put everything together and use the third machine to stick the phone together.

I charged my credit card for the self repair program. It included a $49 tool kit, a $69 battery, $2 glue, 15-cent screws, and a $1,210 contract to repair a machine. After 7 days, these devices must be charged to Apple with a prepaid card and the old battery can also be replaced for a $24 credit.

I had no experience in mobile phone repair so I decided to do an internship. I ordered a $45 kit from iFixit, a site that posts instructions and sells DIY repair kits. So, I was first able to replace the battery in my wife’s four-year-old iPhone XS.

The iFixit kit came with tweezers, a screwdriver, a plastic shovel, and a suction cup to remove the screen.

Unlocking my wife’s iPhone, replacing the battery, and putting the device back together took about five hours over two days. A problem has occurred. My iPhone won’t turn on so I guess I messed something up. I noticed that a small connector inside the phone was loose. Pressing harder with the tips of his fingers he turned on the phone and everything returned to normal.

I was ready for the real thing, I thought.

shaky start

A few days later, a UPS truck pulled up in my driveway. When the delivery man brought two large containers to my house, he asked me what was inside.

I said, “It’s the equipment that people use to repair iPhones.”

He seemed skeptical.

Although iFixit’s repair kits are lightweight, Apple’s self-repair program rents the same hardware that the company’s technicians use at Apple Stores. This is heavy equipment, and I felt bad when I put the equipment down. All three machines (both angular and industrial) looked like serious work. I have never used anything like them before.

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So I asked Mr. Mr. who fixed our family’s appliances in the past. I called Good and told him about my puzzle. He invited me to test the machine on a spare broken phone in the office.

So I grabbed the giant Apple machine and asked Mr. We headed to Good’s office. There he gave her a broken iPhone 12 to train.

Then we went down the stairs together. The two external screws on the bottom of the broken iPhone 12 have been removed to help hold the screen in place. Put the phone in the frame that you inserted in the first device. The machine heated the phone to melt the glue, and once glued, the screen popped open. Next, I used a plastic cutter to cut through the glue and removed the screen.

From there I followed the instructions to unplug the cables, remove the screws and remove the adhesive strip to remove the old battery. We had fun with this and I was excited.

nightmare repair

Now it’s time to do the same steps on my iPhone 12. With great enthusiasm, I started loading it onto the frame and inserting it into the device to melt the glue and remove the screen.

A good gentleman immediately stopped me. “Did you remove the deadbolt?” I ask

“Oh, no, no”. She took a few steps back to remove the two small screws from the bottom of the phone and start over. The screen looked fine.

I repeated the steps to remove the battery. After the replacement battery was installed, the same pressure was applied to the battery using a roller machine to hold the battery in place.

A third machine called a battery-powered plunger is then used to stick the phones together and heat the adhesive to create a waterproof seal.

The moment of truth has finally arrived. We connected the phone and turned it on. A white line flashes on the screen. destroyed. Since I didn’t loosen the security screw first, the screen got stuck in place while I was trying to open it, causing damage.

Fortunately, Mr. Good had plenty of extra Apple screens. In a matter of minutes he took the phone apart again, replaced the screen and closed it again. I looked shyly.

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the nightmare continues

Surprisingly, the last step was the most disturbing. When I turn the phone back on, I get a warning message that the battery and screen have been replaced by unknown parts. This was annoying because the battery was originally an Apple-ordered part. The screen was original like from another iPhone.

However, to complete the repair, Apple requires anyone using its automatic repair program to run a system setup. This includes calling a remote customer service representative to verify the part’s serial number and pair it with your phone. Only then will the modifications be authenticated and the warning message will disappear.

Apple’s auto repair site took me to online support where I was able to chat with a representative. There, an employee named Carlos connected the phone and told me to hold down three buttons to enter diagnostic mode.

I have tried this step several times. Do nothing

Carlos pasted the same instructions on the button. I tried again. Then again I was only able to get into diagnostic mode after checking online forums where someone posted other steps.

It took more than 30 minutes to complete. The unknown battery warning message is gone.

Note on Apple

Apple said it’s still developing its own repair program, so feedback is welcome. So here is mine. As with all new technology tools, this software is a new product with pros and cons and much better potential.

There are several benefits that will lead to cheaper and higher quality repairs for everyone. Now Mr. All Independent Repair Technicians, including Tayeb, have access to Apple tools. (He said he would probably buy an Apple Press to lock his iPhone). Now everyone can read the official instructions on how to fix it without guessing.

The entire experience hasn’t been smooth sailing, however, and even for those who try, Apple exercises considerable control in requesting approval of fixes. Just like other iPhones work screens, Apple installs the parts and it should work.

The new screen came from the good boss, not Apple, so I still get warnings about the unknown on my iPhone. Just what you need to remind you of this repair experience.

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