Apple and others accused of 'anti-competitive repair restrictions' by FTC

Ifixit Iphone 12 Pro Max Teardown
Ifixit Iphone 12 Pro Max Teardown (Image credit: iFixit)

What you need to know

  • A new FTC report is aimed squarely at Apple and its 'anti-competitive repair restrictions.'
  • Apple is one of the companies accused of making it more difficult to repair products than they should be.

Apple has long been accused of making it more difficult to repair its products than it should and now a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report has piled on. According to that report, Apple and other companies are guilty of "anti-competitive repair restrictions," including the use of software locks.

Those software locks often mean that replacing a single part within a product also means that multiple other parts also need to be replaced. Apple is a prime example here, particularly in the case of various iPhone models – including the current iPhone 12.

Software locks, digital rights management ('DRM") tools or technological protection measures (TPMs") are access control technologies implemented by OEMs. While manufacturers argue that these measures are necessary to protect proprietary hardware and copyrighted technologies, repair advocates argue such tactics lock ISOs and consumers out of basic repairs. Embedded software may force consumers to have the maintenance and repair of their products performed by the manufacturers' authorized service networks. Furthermore, according to iFixit, "if you replace the screen on your iPhone even if it's with a brand new OEM screen off of another identical iPhone certain features like TrueTone won't work correctly.

Other issues include Apple being the only company that can replace iPhone parts that are synchronized to the device's logic board. However, Apple often cites security as the reason for this, suggesting it ensures third parties can't replace items like the Touch ID sensor with one that has already been compromised.

The FTC also went on to say that it will help with any attempt to employ legislation to make it easier for devices to be repaired.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.