Companies like Apple have faced a lot of criticism for less-than-consumer-friendly business practices. When Apple announced its Self-Service Repair program in late 2021, it came as a massive yet welcome surprise.
Self-Service Repair officially launched on April 28, 2022, in the U.S., with plans to bring it to Europe later this year. Now that consumers have had access to this program for some weeks, what do they think of it?
What Is Self-Service Repair?
As the name implies, Self Service Repair allows Apple customers to fix their own iPhones. If your phone breaks, you can order official Apple replacement parts, tools and instructions, letting you perform the same repairs a technician would if you took it into a store. The program currently applies to the iPhone 12, 13, and third-generation SE, but more support will be added in the future.
For years, people have argued that manufacturers hurt consumers by limiting who can repair products. Making self-repair inconvenient or impossible could force them to pay higher prices or buy new products. When Apple announced the program, it seemed like a victory for the right-to-repair movement.
Studies show more than 90% of customers expect businesses to offer self-service. Apple seems to be meeting that demand for phone repairs by providing these tools, parts, and guides.
Notably, the program doesn’t cover every type of problem you could have with your phone. Repair kits address specific, common issues like broken screens, dead batteries, and haptic feedback problems. However, Apple could offer support for more fixes in the future.
Expectations were initially high for the Self Service Repair program. The right-to-repair movement holds that making these things more accessible can help make fixes easier and more affordable. However, people’s expectations were tempered when they noticed what Apple would charge for this program.
Now that the service has been out for a little more than a month, impressions aren’t favorable, to say the least. Here’s a closer look.
At first glance, Self Service Repair seems cheaper than taking your phone to an Apple store. An iPhone 12 Pro screen replacement costs $279 in a store while ordering the parts to do it yourself costs $270. You’ll also get a $33.60 credit for sending in your old screen, bringing the total discount to roughly $43.
While that’s a fair amount of savings, it doesn’t always work out to be that cheap in practice. Renting the tools necessary for the repair costs $49 per week. You’ll also have to pay a deposit, which you’ll get back if you return the kit on time, but can put more than $1,000 on hold.
Opting for self-service can save you some money if you already have the necessary tools to perform a repair. However, most people don’t have this specialized equipment on hand. Consequently, it’s cheaper not to exercise your right to repair in most cases.
When Apple first announced Self Service Repair, people hoped it would also make fixing their phones easier. After all, if you can do it yourself, you don’t have to worry about driving to the store, finding a parking space, and waiting around.
In reality, the self-repair program is far from user-friendly. Some people were shocked to receive 79 pounds of equipment for a seemingly minor task. These tools are the same that Apple technicians use, which means while they’re right for the job, they’re highly specialized. As a result, using them can be tricky for your average person.
Users have complained that the repair process is complicated and hard to follow, even with Apple’s instructions. The kits also don’t ship with some accessories like tweezers or heat-resistant gloves, so you may have to run out to the store during the process. If you don’t have much experience repairing phones, it’s most likely easier just to go to the store.
It can be cheaper and more convenient to use Self Service Repair in some situations. It’s a helpful alternative to going to the store if you already have the necessary tools and experience. To be fair to Apple, people who’ve tinkered around with electronics in the past are probably the most likely to use the program, so it serves its target market well.
That said, Self Service Repair is expensive and inconvenient for most users. This may come as a disappointment, especially for those who want more independence or don’t live near a certified repair center. Some have even suggested that Apple has made the process intentionally expensive and challenging to prevent people from using their right to repair.
Where Could Self-Service Repair Go From Here?
It’s hard to say if Apple has made the process so inconvenient on purpose. The expensive, specialized equipment it rents out is the same as what it sells to independent repair providers (IRPs). People who participate in the program are getting the same access professionals do.
That seems nice on paper, but the program’s first month reveals this equipment may be too complicated for most users. Apple could fix that by providing more affordable and straightforward tools in the future. The problem with this is these cheaper, easier options may not do the job as well, so they could increase the risk of something going wrong.
As phones get more complicated, breaking them open to fix them becomes more challenging. As a result, it’s hard to offer an easy, affordable way for people without much experience to repair their own gadgets. Considering that, some complications with this program may be inevitable.
At the very least, Apple could and likely will expand the program to support more models and countries. There’s probably a fair amount of people who can benefit from it, considering how 61% of smartphone owners have had damage that requires repair. It may not be the best method for everyone, but Self Service Repair should be an available option for those who can use it as intended.
Self-Service Repair Puts Right to Repair in a New Light
Apple’s self-repair program highlights the challenges of fixing its cellphones with modern technology. Offering the necessary tools and instructions may not be sufficient for most people as electronics become more sophisticated.
Self Service Repair is a helpful option for tech enthusiasts with tools and experience, and hopefully, it will expand to assist more of them. However, it falls short of most people’s expectations, and going to a certified repair shop is still the best option for most of us.
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Last Updated on June 8, 2022.