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Apple to Start Backing Self-Service Tech Repair, Initially With Some iPhones

The new program comes as many countries are implementing or considering Right to Repair laws.

Business
A woman repairs her mobile phone at home.
A woman repairs her mobile phone at home. Guido Mieth / DigitalVision / Getty Images
After years of lawsuits over planned obsolescence and criticisms of its contributions to e-waste, Apple has finally created a self-service program for customers to repair their own products.

The program, Self Service Repair, will include tools, manuals, and Apple parts for users to fix their own products when something goes awry. It is set to launch in 2022.

The catch? To start, only the newest iPhones, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, are included in the program. Mac computers with M1 chips will join the program shortly after.

The program will primarily offer repair options for batteries, cameras, and screens, which Apple says are the most commonly serviced parts in its products.

To repair a product, the customer will first need to review the manual before ordering the necessary parts online. There will be around 200 parts and tools available for repairs when the program opens. Used parts can be sent back to Apple for recycling and a credit toward the purchase of tools and new parts.

Still, Apple isn't suggesting this program for the average customer with beginner repair skills. The company recommends that most customers should still go to Apple stores to see certified technicians.

"Self Service Repair is intended for individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices," the company said in a press release. "For the vast majority of customers, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair."

The new program comes as many countries, including the U.S., are implementing or considering Right to Repair laws that allow customers to have access to the information and parts necessary to fix worn-out tech rather than tossing it. Since 2018, 40 states have introduced or enacted bills on Right to Repair. In 2021 alone, more than half of the U.S. has already established or started working toward Right to Repair legislation.

Yet throughout the first half of 2021, Apple, along with other major technology companies, has lobbied against Right to Repair laws. Its reversal with the announcement of a self-service repair program has left many people surprised.

"Our coalition of tinkerers, fixers, repair shops, DIYers, and consumer and environmental advocates has forced one of the world's biggest companies to change for the better. It's a win for repair shops, it's a win for consumers and it's a win for the planet," said Nathan Proctor, senior Right to Repair campaign director. "As more and more manufacturers show that repair access is reasonable and doable, it should become clear to lawmakers that there are no more excuses. It's time to give every American the Right to Repair, so everyone can fix all their products. That's the way it should be."

The Right to Repair movement aims to combat e-waste. In the U.S., Americans toss over 416,000 cell phones away every single day, and only 15% to 20% of e-waste in the country is actually recycled.

While Apple's new program is a step in the right direction at reducing e-waste, it's still quite limited. Right to Repair advocates are awaiting more information and a more robust program accessible to all Apple customers, rather than just those who are experienced technicians with the newest phones.

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