Thursday, Apple Announced that iPhone repair process has been opened, including used components. Starting this fall, customers and independent repair shops will be able to repair phones using compatible components.

Components that do not require configuration (such as volume buttons) can already be obtained from used devices. Today’s news adds all the components Apple requires to be fully functional, including battery, display, and camera. Face ID won’t be available when the feature first rolls out, but it’s coming soon.

At launch, the feature will only be available for iPhone 15 series repair suppliers and receivers. This caveat is partly due to limited interoperability between models. In many cases, parts from older phones simply won’t fit. The broader restriction prohibiting the use of components from used models comes down to a process commonly known as “parts matching.”

Apple has defended the process, saying the use of genuine components is an important aspect of maintaining user security and privacy. Historically, the company has never used the term “parts matching” to refer to its configuration process, but it acknowledges that the phrase has been widely adopted externally. It also realizes that the word has applications in many circles.

“‘Part pairing’ is widely used externally and has a negative connotation,” John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, told TechCrunch. “I think it leads people to believe that we’re somehow preventing third-party parts from working, but that’s not the case. The way we look at it is, we need to know what parts are in the device for a couple of reasons. Number one, We need to verify that it’s a real Apple biometric device and it’s not being spoofed or anything like that. … Calibration is another thing.”

Right-to-repair advocates accuse Apple of using parts matching as an excuse to stifle user repairability. In January, iFixit called the process “the biggest threat to repairs.” The article depicts a scenario in which an iPhone user attempts to obtain a battery from a friend’s old device, only to receive a pop-up notification that reads “Important battery message. There is no way to verify that this iPhone uses a genuine Apple battery.” “

This is a real scenario and one that is sure to confuse a lot of people. After all, a battery taken directly from another iPhone is obviously the real deal.

Today’s news is a step toward resolving an issue on newer iPhones, allowing the system to effectively verify that the battery being used is indeed genuine.

“Part matching, whatever you want to call it, is not evil,” Turnus said. “We’re basically saying that if we know what modules are inside, we can make sure that when you put our modules into a new phone, you’re going to get the best quality possible. Why is that a bad thing?”

The practice gained even more notoriety across the country when Oregon’s recently passed right-to-repair bill specifically targeted the practice. Apple wrote an open letter in support of a similar bill in California, harshly criticizing the bill’s parts-matching provisions.

“Apple supports consumers’ right to repairs, and we have always unequivocally supported state and federal legislation,” a company spokesperson noted in March. “We support the latest repair laws in California and New York because they increase consumer access to repairs while preserving critical consumer protections. However, we are concerned about a small portion of Oregon Senate Bill 1596 could severely impact the critical, industry-leading privacy, safety and security protections that iPhone users around the world rely on every day.”

While today’s news is viewed in some quarters as a step in the right direction by some repair advocates, it seems unlikely that it will bring iPhones into full compliance with Oregon’s bill. Apple declined to provide further speculation on the matter.

Biometrics – including fingerprints and facial scans – remain a sticking point for the company.

“You think about Touch ID and Face ID and how important their security is because there’s so much information stored on our phones,” Ternus said. “Our entire lives are on our phones. We can’t authenticate any third-party biometrics. performance. In this area, we do not allow the use of third-party modules for critical safety functions. But in all other aspects, we do so.”

It seems no coincidence that today’s news was announced just weeks after the passage of the Oregon bill — especially considering the changes are set to roll out in the fall. The move also appears to echo Apple’s decision to focus more on user repairability of the iPhone 14, with the news coming amid growing international calls for right-to-repair legislation.

However, Apple notes that the process behind this effort started some time ago. Today’s announcement about the device collection, for example, has been two years in the making.

For his part, Ternus’ team has been working to increase users’ access to repairs regardless of upcoming national and international legislation. “We want to make things easier to fix, so we’re going to do the work no matter what,” he said. “To some extent, with my team, we blocked out the world news because we knew what we were doing was the right thing and we were focused on that.”

Overall, the executive preaches the right tools for the right work philosophy on product design and self-healing.

“Isolated repairs are not always the best answer,” Ternus said. “One thing I worry about is that people become so focused as if repairability is the goal. The reality is repairability is a means to an end. The goal is to build products that last, and if you focus too much [making every part repairable], ultimately leading to some unintended consequences that are worse for consumers and the planet. “

Also announced this morning are enhancements to Activation Lock designed to stop thieves from stealing stolen phones for parts. “If the device being repaired detects that a supported part was obtained from another device with Activation Lock or Lost Mode enabled, the calibration capabilities of that part will be limited,” the company notes.

Ternus added that in addition to collecting used iPhones for parts, Apple “fundamentally supports[s] People also have the right to use third-party components. ” Part of that, however, is achieving transparency.

“We are using hundreds of millions of iPhones, and they are all second-hand or third-hand devices,” he explained. “They’re a great way for people to get the iPhone experience at a lower price. We think it’s important to give them transparency about: Has the device been repaired? What parts were used? Things like that.”

When iOS 15.2 was released in November 2021, it introduced a new feature called iPhone Parts and Service History. If your phone is new and has never been repaired, you won’t see it at all. However, if one of these two qualifications does apply to your device, the company will display a list of replacement parts and repairs in Settings.

Ternus cited a recent study by UL Solutions as evidence that third-party battery modules in particular can pose a danger to users.

“We will not prevent the use of third-party batteries,” he said. “But we think it’s important to be able to inform customers that this is or is not a genuine Apple battery, and hope that will incentivize some of these third parties to improve quality.”

While the fall update will open up a large collection of components, Apple has no plans to sell refurbished parts for user repair.

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