Apple should make the iPad user-serviceable
The new iPad and the iPad 2 are very simliar in form factor. They're actually almost impossible to tell apart from a the outside with the exception of a slight difference in thickness. That's disappointing, because I was really hoping Apple would change the way the new iPad was constructed and make it more user-serviceable.
While the new iPad and iPad 2 are beautiful devices to look at and hold in your hand, the overall design is terrible from a service perspective. iFixIt recently tore the new iPad down and went on to share a lot of the same sentiments I do about the overall design.
When it was suspected that the new iPad would be a bit thicker than its predecessor, I was secretly hoping that Apple would be going back to using clips to hold in the screen like the original iPad instead of adhesive. Alas, that was not the case and Apple decided to stick with the same horrid adhesive they used on the iPad 2.
Now this would be fine if there were a way to gain access to the device from the rear. But there isn't. The only way to access internals on an iPad 2 or new iPad is to physically melt the adhesive around the edges of the screen. Yes, I said melt. This makes it a nightmare for anyone who wants to DIY repair anything other than a broken screen. Actually, replacing a newer iPad screen is a terrible experience in itself and way beyond what most would be willing to take on.
I've gotten several emails from readers asking for directions on how to repair their iPads, the same way I've shown how to repair iPhones. I've been hesitant to even offer advice as the process is so tedious and way beyond what even a skilled user should attempt on their own. The screen is damn near impossible to get off without breaking it. This is why I dread the day when the iPad 2 starts coming out of warranty all at once and I start getting calls for battery replacements, bad home buttons, and anything other than a cracked screen.
For those of you wondering what goes into replacing an iPad 2 front assembly- here's a quick run down.
First you'll have to take a heat gun to the edges of the screen and get the adhesive running around the edges soft enough to be able to fit a putty knife underneath an edge. Next you slowly heat small section by small section sliding your putty knife around the edges to free the glass front from the adhesive.
Apple also decided to put a devilish type of foam adhesive on the frame of the LCD which you'll have to break too. You'll have to do this without inserting your putty knife too far as you can easily scratch or ruin the LCD completely if your putty knife comes in contact with it.
While working your way around the edges you'll need to be careful not to damage the Wi-Fi antenna which sits to the right side of the home button and can be ripped right out of its home easily if you pull up even the slightest bit too hard. This is because it will stick to the adhesive and come right out with the screen. This is why I stay away from using large suctions cups on iPads as there are just too many delicate internals that will get stuck to the adhesive.
Just like the wifi antenna, the 3G/4G antennas can easily stick to the screen adhesive as well in the top middle portion of the iPad. You have to take great caution to melt the adhesive completely so it doesn't come up with the digitizer.
Once you've finally gotten all the adhesive broken, you'll be able to remove the front assembly, hopefully still in once piece. And when putting on a new piece of glass you'll need to make sure every single shred of glass or old adhesive is completely picked out of the frame before placing in a new one. If you don't, it won't sit flush and you'll have terrible light leak. If the frame was bent, you'll either need to replace that too or dremel it down. Not. Fun.
The worst part of all this is the tiny shards of glass that you'll more than likely end up picking out of the frame. I've had more than one client attempt a screen replacement on their own. Only one has succeeded and more importantly, another actually hurt themselves pretty badly when a piece of glass broke off in his hand.
This is not taking into account the other small cables and odds and ends you can easily tear or rip if you move too quickly. I've been guilty of sticking a putty knife just a bit too far under too quickly and cutting a cable. Then you've got that to replace as well.
I understand Apple wants to keep these as sealed appliances, as magical boxes that, if they break, you simply bring them back to Apple and either swap them for, or pay for, a replacement.
But what happens to your old device?
It gets ripped apart and a many of the internals may never be used again. A few components may get re-used but for the most part, it's garbage. The same thing goes for iPhones and iPods which are actually fairly easy to repair. I can probably swap four to five iPhone 4 or 4S screens in the time it takes me to fix one iPad 2.
The sad part is most of the phones that go into Apple and get swapped for new ones probably could have been fixed and given back to the customer in less than 30 minutes time. To my knowledge the only thing Apple employees are even trained to replace is the back cover, rear-facing camera, and vibrator assembly on the GSM iPhone 4 and the front assembly of an iPhone 3GS. Anything else just gets swapped and that's a shame. It's prioritizing packaging over everything else. It's too much.
Users have been fixing their own gadgets for years -- whether it's a phone, tablet, or a computer. Apple's recent design practices are making it economically unrealistic for businesses like myself to even bother with devices such as the iPad 2 or new iPad. The process is time consuming and has a very high margin for error. The front assembly isn't a cheap part and it's extremely difficult to remove it without breaking it or scratching the paint around the edges.
iFixIt is dead on in asserting that Apple should be responsible for making sure their devices are not only sustainable but repairable.
I fear what the next iteration of iPhone is going to bring with it and surely hope that Apple seriously evaluates their current design process and changes some things.
Not only because it would hurt me but because it hurts my clients. Some of them just don't have the money to walk into an Apple store and drop another $200 or more on a brand new replacement device. But they can afford to buy a part and swap it themselves or pay me a more reasonable amount to fix a shattered screen, broken home button, or replace a battery. They walk out happy and the odds of them purchasing another Apple device is more likely. They have the security that if an accident does happen, they have a safety net -- either their own repair skills or businesses like my own.
Apple offers certified repair for computers, why not mobile and tablet devices? Isn't that a better option than tossing devices that are perfectly salvageable? Apple retains a happy customer and it's better for the environment.
iFixit gave the new iPad a 2 out of 10 on their repairability scale. One of their lowest scores ever. They also lowered the iPad 2 repairability score down from a 4 to a 2 as well. I stand behind their scores completely. These devices are extremely hard to repair. I'm convinced that Apple can find a different practice of securing the screen without sacrificing size or thickness and would allow easier access to the internal components.
Sure consumers can buy services like AppleCare+ to avoid unfortunate accidents and save themselves some money but that only lasts for 2 years and after that customers are left with no options but to buy new devices, which they can't always afford.
Apple, please consider how these practices impact your consumers, other businesses, and the environment. You're selling millions and millions of iPads yet you continue to make them almost unserviceable even by your own stores. Creating a product made mainly of glass that's next to unrepairable is not responsible, it's form over function. You now set the standard in mobile. It's time for you to re-evaluate those standards and prioritize not only beautiful looking, excellent working devices, but easy to repair and maintain ones as well.
Response to: iFixit
(Note: This is part of an ongoing point/counterpoint series at iMore, where different writers with different opinions make their arguments. We'll post and link to an alternate point of view in the near future.)
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iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.
by eliminating them, apple is able to use that space far, ar more efficiently -- for things like bigger batteries and more chips that perform more functions. not to mention aesthetic beauty, which is also important.
what you're asking for would ABSOLUTELY: make the devices larger make the batteries smaller make the devices uglier apple's the largest company in the world because they've been doing a few things right. there's no obligation to make life easier for people who run 3rd-party businesses. with all due respect, this notion of user-serviceability is a perfect example of outdated, old-fashioned thinking. fortunately for all of us, apple is about innovation. otherwise, we'd still have floppy drives and serial ports on our computers. :-)
Not a valid argument in my book. Apple vouches to be such a green company but yet they discard and toss out devices that could have been easily serviced.
THAT is a story.
If iMore is unable to follow up on that story because if the risk of a relationship with Apple (as was stated by the WSJ about the NYT after the Foxconn story), give Mike Daisey a call. He needs something else to take the heat off him for a while--and maybe some more monologue material.
Not a valid argument in my book. Apple vouches to be such a green company but yet they discard and toss out devices that could have been easily serviced."
"but yet they discard and toss out devices that could have been easily serviced.??
Where do you get this from. How do you know what they throw out and what they recycle.
When you say BS like the above, you prove to me that you are an anti-Apple propagandist.
Two, even if it were, isn't that the whole point of a company that bills itself as the pinnacle of innovative design? It's their challenge to design a product that meets their aesthetic goals as well as the sustainability goals of their customers.
Anyone could design a sealed case that contains a bunch of electronic components that meed our expectations. A real innovative designer would do all that and design for end-of-life as well.
Smaller components? Huh?
Ugly? No way
It would not take much to change the case to use screws, and no need to enbiggen the device in the process. Try harder to be cromulent, Bub.
We go from writing about how to do something as basic as sync contacts or edit a video to this, something no one gives a crap about. Seriously? Make the ipad easier to repair? It doesn't get any easier to go to an apple store and exchange it or pay 199 or less.
This is simply stupid.
But I guess the 'iMore community" would rather make sure they can have newer, shinier plastic at all costs, and to hell with everybody else. Thinking about anything other than one's personal gratification is so "old-fashioned."
So you're telling me that if my iPad breaks, and I take it to Apple, and I get a new one, they just throw the old one away? Because that's what this is sounding like to me.
If it all goes in the garbage, as stated in the article, then why are there refurbished iPads, iPhones, etc for sale on Apple's website?
My guess is refurbished iPads are probably ones that have a part or two that is re-used. The entire outside casing, glass, and many internals are brand new.
I understand your point and I do wish this stuff was as user-repairable as the old video ipods or ipod minis were..but in the end it isn't Apple's responsibility to do anything beyond help their bottom line, sadly. Apple has been form over function for some time now, overheating MBP's, iphones that are 95% glass, etc..Vote with your wallet, stop supporting this company. You knew how the ipad 2 was. Did you think the new ipad would be any different?
Their practice of making them next to unserviceable even to their own employees isn't excusable anymore.
Specifically, I was stunned when Ms. Kazmucha quoted (and agreed with) iFixIt:
"If Apple ships one million iPads today, at 1.44 pounds each, that means 650 metric tons of unrepairable toxic iPad going out just today."
Apple has made it clear that they make iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks primarily out of materials that can be recycled (http://www.apple.com/environment/), and they offer a recycling service PLUS a discount for new Apple products (http://www.apple.com/recycling/). Apple clearly doesn't want 650 metric tons of "toxic iPad" going anywhere.
At the same time, it needs to be noted that iFixIt and Ms. Kazmucha make a living fixing iDevices and teaching others to do so (Ms. Kazmucha discusses this in the article). It seems reasonable to me that a company that tried to keep developers from jail breaking its operating system would want to keep hardware specialists out of their devices.
Personally, I think there is a silver lining here. If repair specialists can figure out how to repair iPads for less than the cost of a Apple-provided repair, consumers will use their services. That means more income for the repair specialist, and an entire new market is sustained.
We're going to present a counter editorial as well, just like we did with the Chinese factories, and with the "new iPad" name. Debate leads to thought which leads to better thinking.
Even and especially when I have a different opinion, what value is that opinion if I haven't tested it against alternatives?
I've repaired pcs, i need to replace a headphone jack on an ipod video, i've built and repaired a guitar, i'm relatively open to fixing things. I even did my own plumbing and for a time installed my own car stereos. but most of the time its' much easier to have someone else do it and have them stand by it. i wouldn't hold my breath on this one.
Don't change for the sake of changing. If it isn't broke don't try to fix it. The ipad design and look isn't broke.
If Apple can come up with a design like the iPhone 4 and make it easily serviceable, then there is no reason they can't do the same with an iPad. Even Steve Jobs stressed that beautiful design shouldn't just end with what the user can see - the inside should be well designed as well.
As for those claiming this doesn't add to the bottom line - BullSh1t - making the units easily serviceable means staff can save the company money by not simply swapping devices all the time. If they can do a 10-30 minute repair, that will still keep the customer happy and is a lot more cost effective than swapping out the device and junking the old one.
I really hope the iMore community is not so named because they think about I more and about We less.
This post has me very, very concerned. Is this really a disposable iPad? (no pun intended). Anyone who has young children in the house thinks about these things.
So Allison, absolutely no reflection on your skills or ambitions, but not Apple or any other computer / electronic builder are ever going back to component-level repair...
Although there is a waste element argue also there is no difference to any other industry. Your car is significantly harder to fix now than it once was, are ECUs not reated in the same way as iDevices when they go wrong?
Why would a sane person void the warranty by going to you - when they can get a new replacement within minutes at Apple's store.
I'm almost positive apple does not re-use most materials. As a company grows and starts outputting devices in the massive amount apple is, practices have to change. Especially ones that involve disposing of a ton of materials that probably could have been easily refurbished or re-used.
I was in no way suggesting anyone not comfortable opening a device should but that Apple put a better system in place when it comes to repairability.
Sorry it happened to you. It's happened to me plenty on here. I've come to expect it as normal. Just know there are those of us out here, who don't directly use apple products (my wife & 2 of children do however), that appreciate any efforts to get apple to take the lead in fixing problems they either contribute to our can have a positive impact on. So I appreciate the thought provoking reasoning behind your article.
On a side note;
I find it odd that Al Gore sits on apples board, & is a big share holder, yet they have questionable policies with environmental responsiblity. He is the champion of environmental issues isn't he? Food for thought.
Yet you continue to allege that Apple is dumping toxic material into the environment.
Is this based on hearsay from some tech you personally interviewed? What level of tech are they? Are they privy to how Apple recycles its faulty devices?
You now sound like you object to how Apple implements its recycling program and only will accept it if Apple makes it easier for you to repair it.
1. go to repairshops
2. self repair
10. send to apple store.
When have you ever seen a Apple product that was user serviceable. They build them so that only tech's that are trained can service them.
Their products are not likes PC's. Their built with that in mind.
I imagine all the broken ones they take in get stripped for parts and good parts are reassembled into factory refurbished units and sold at discount.
So what's the problem there?
Not serviceable enough for the average consumer? Ally, you know full well the general public has no interest in fixing electronics. That's evidenced by the fact that even on phone models with replaceable batteries, many will replace the phone instead of the battery, which is the reason I'm willing to bet as to why Apple has not gone that route.
If Apple is indeed not recycling as they say, then that is the real story you should be covering, not this article which I perceive to be a thinly veiled plea for Apple to make their devices easier for you to fix, thus allowing you to grow your business by servicing more devices.
Thus you return to the concept of the post: the device being "repairable by user." The pentalobe screw should be evidence enough for everyone that Apple doesn't want that!
That means the iPad is 100% made up of toxic components. (Google for: 1440000 pounds in metric tonnes to check)
I don't believe it. Let's see the evidence. iPads are happily used my millions of children, whose lives are in danger if you are right.
If you have no evidence, please do the same as the people who stupidly believed Mike Daisey's lies without proper fact checking and publish a retraction.http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/ieconomy/acclaimed-apple-critic-m...
Making the iPad user repairable is not going to help apple. when I purchased my iPad I didn't once think about how would I repair it. I purchased it because I know Apple will help if I have an issue, and my experience with Apple is that things just work the way they should.
Now if the item was serviceable like you mention the phones are a 10 min swap will be preferred over a 30 min repair. Why? they want to make the customer the happiest they can, they get the customer back out the door grinning from ear to ear and the customer will tell their friends about the service they received. They wont say "I had to wait 45 min for them to repair my beat up iPhone" they will say "Awesome, I got a shiny new device and I'm in love again"
I would also suggest that even when devices are repairable the same practice of only using certain parts in refurbs would be used, I would not want a refurb full of scratches and since a lot of what makes Apple stand out is the looks, they will do what they have to to make sure even the refurb customers are happy.
Of course, apple's repair service is a beautiful example of industrial design, I mean if you could see the techs at work it would be thing of unimaginable beauty! And apple is a unique company that certainly wouldn't act like every other monopolist in the history of business, so we can ignore all that history as old-fashioned thinking.
You need to pay to get it, pay to use it, pay to fix it and pay to break it! The sooner you realize that Apple is trying to find a way to suck the blood directly from your veins, you may want to rethink what the 'real' value is that they bring to your life and at what cost.
Why should an iPad2 no longer be useful to the consumer when its battery no longer holds a charge? Yes, its unlikely any of us have reached this point yet even if owning an original iPad and some won't reach it ever if they subscribe to the rampant consumerism of running to Apple every year to get the new model. Some may even say that when the battery does fail (and they all will) that the iPad, iPod or iPhone is now so old as to no longer be useful.
Why? The iPad will be no less useful than when the consumer bought it if it still gets their email, can still surf the sites they need, and they can still read their books on it if that is all they need and want it for. So why, because of a design decision by Apple, should this device be relegated to a scrap heap simply because they chose not to make the battery able to be replaced without breaking the screen?
It may only be $200 two years out to replace. but what about three years, four years. five? Are we so toss away that some of us won't consider that a device that 'old' is still useful and now would likely be a $500 or $600 replacement with the original chucked in the pail and dragged out to the curb?
This day and age there is simply no excuse in my mind for a company to make a battery not easily replaceable. HP had an elegant design in the Pre 3 phone and the battery is easy to get to making the devices useful life expanded well beyond iPhone4 and Motorola Droid Razr phones.
What is also left out here is the over packaging of the devices themselves (over packaging that is doubled when you consider that each time you have a failure in one you have to return it to get a replacement. Unpacking a MacBook Pro leaves a huge amount of paper, cardboard and plastic in the bin. Even the Magic mouse is way over packaged in hard plastic case for a simple, slim mouse. Thick boxes, plastic protection wrapping even the power plug (does the power adapter need to be shiny plastic if we have to protect it with plastic in the box to keep it from being scratched and adding to the waste, is a question not just Apple but also Blackberry and every other manufacturer should be asking), all kinds of compartments in the box, all adding to the throw away for each iPod, iPhone and iPad purchased or obtained as a replacement due to a simple part that could have been repaired all add to the piles our children's children will have to live next to.
Lack of replaceable battery is a reason I don't own an iPhone and my iPod is a Third Gen original (not a touch) which I have opened and replaced the battery myself for $7.00 instead of $70 that Apple wanted to do it.
Apple has a vested interested in making things you have to replace every few years or even sooner when they break or have a battery go bad thus increasing their sales nd stock price so it is up to consumers to get them to change. They will not on their own. America is supposed to be a progressive nation. We used to have lead in paint and saw it was bad, so we discontinued its use. We should be looking at these things no different.
I'd rather go to Apple and be assured of a new + original battery that won't explode or leak on me.
Mindboggling the amount of venom users pour out here, in disgust over other users actually wishing to be able to service their device. Do you believe it is any less magical because it can be serviced? Somehow I suspect that's the case and you don't want your bubble burst. Be real! Whether it's good for the environment or just plain old good for your pocketbook, please don't stand in the way of the sensible plea that Allyson makes to Apple.
As a side note, many users have stated that I have a self interest because I repair devices. Then it's worth stating we repair more than just apple devices. We also provide other services such as web development and business consulting (these are actually where most of our money comes from). I could never touch another iPad and my business would be next to not affected in the slightest. We have been open for about a year and we have serviced hundreds of phones. We have serviced about 15 iPads. I choose not to service them because they aren't worth the time or money. I'd rather focus on other repairs that net far more money. But it is something my customers appreciate us offering. And my main goal is to offer them useful services.
If we know this, please decide whether you want to stick with Apple or buy others brand.