Apple's iPhone repair change is putting repair professionals out of business

an iPhone being repaired
(Image credit: Apple)

A new report into how repairable Apple’s iPhone 14 is has revealed that repair professionals are packing up the business entirely rather than trying to follow Apple’s rules.

Initially praised for its repairability due to how easy its internals were to access and change, iFixit has this week changed its mind on the iPhone 14, giving it a lowly score of  4, stating they don’t recommend it. This is just part of the problem repairers have been facing due to software limitations applied to the device.

If you want to repair an iPhone and be sure it works, you have to go through Apple directly or an authorized service provider, giving them your IMEI and serial number to get matching parts, a process iFixit refers to as "parts pairing”. Without them, your phone won’t operate correctly. iFixit says "Lots of independent repair shops have business models that are threatened by Apple’s parts pairing practice," stating that shops that harvest parts from broken devices use third-party parts and "shouldn’t have to send Apple their customers’ personal information, or agree to five years of audits just to do the repairs they know how to do". This seems to run contrary to Apple’s recent carbon-neutral efforts. This also means that third-party parts often can’t be used at all.

In iFixit’s report, they state ‘The situation has gotten so bad that several repair professionals have told us they’re leaving the business entirely rather than navigate the labyrinthine maze of obstacles that Apple has erected.’

One step forward, two steps back — iMore’s verdict

iFixit’s initial score of 7 was given due to some great design decisions made to the device. It was one of the more repair-friendly iPhones of the last few years and this showed in the score. In fairness to the repair system, there are a few reasons Apple might want to handle these things internally. First, it allows them more oversight over second-hand repairers — an extended effort to make sure Apple customers are getting what they have paid for. 

Perhaps more cynically, Apple might want to consolidate that user base to go through its own internal repair system. Apple cares about its branding. As part of this, they have been quite insular when it comes to repairs in the past. If they can get you to come to them to solve all of your Apple problems, why wouldn’t they do so?

Unfortunately, this seems to be leaving many repairers out of business — a firm step away from sustainable iPhone practices. Many of these repairers will still operate on other mobile devices which leaves Apple trailing behind. It seems the 4 iFixit has given the phone is more than fair and may also result in this year’s iPhone 15 receiving a similarly poor score. However, Apple’s own repair will be over $300 cheaper for the iPhone 15 this year when it comes to replacing the back glass thanks to internal changes.

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.