Apple’s self-repair program disappoints right-to-repair advocates

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And they’re about as bright as the ones in the remake of Cats.

The backstory: Last month, Apple launched its self-service repair store, which lets customers buy parts for select Apple devices that they can repair at home. It was a big victory for advocates of the “right to repair” movement, who fought Apple in Congress for the opportunity to trade in their own broken screens.

But DIY enthusiasts spoiled faster than a ripe lawyer as it became clear that Apple’s program is time-consuming, expensive and difficult. For example:

  • NYT writer Brian X. Chen replaced his iPhone 12 battery at the auto-repair store. He was charged $96 for materials, plus a credit card hold of $1,210 for the 75 pounds of industrial equipment needed to repair. And it damaged the phone in step 2.
  • Sean Hollister of The Verge had an equally miserable experience fixing his iPhone Mini.

Meanwhile, having a battery replaced by an Apple associate costs $69. Apple said in a white paper last month: “For the vast majority of customers, the safest and most reliable repair is through an Apple Store. …Repairing modern electronic devices that are complex, highly integrated and miniaturized is not easy. Translation: “Try it. You’re going to hate it.

At the end of the line : Critics say Apple doesn’t want customers to repair their phones at home and, when this program proves unpopular, will use it as evidence against Right to Repair initiatives.—J.W.

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