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Apple is making it a little easier to repair your iPhone

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Apple is making it a little easier to repair your iPhone

Apple will make it a little easier to repair an iPhone with used parts, marking a reversal of long-standing and strict rules on exchanging iPhone parts.

The change, Announced Thursday will begin with “select” iPhone models this fall (Washington Post reported that it will cover iPhone 15 and later). It comes as states move to ban part matching, which requires a company’s software to recognize and approve a replacement part. This practice has long frustrated outside repair shops, as well as at-home self-repairers, and lawmakers across the United States are seeking to ban it.

Apple has long argued that pairing parts is necessary for safety and functionality. Using other parts may cause iPhone functions to malfunction. For example: Replacing a broken iPhone screen could cause Face ID to break. When the change announced today takes effect, the company will allow used iPhone parts to function “like new genuine Apple parts,” the company says.

But the changes do not apply to replacement parts, a distinction that frustrates right-to-repair advocates. “This is a strategy of half-promises and unnecessarily complicated coverage designed to divert attention from lawmakers who are trying to ban the practice entirely,” says Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit, a company that sells tech repair tools and kits.

iFixit ran tests on iPhone 15, and found that when exchanging many parts, warnings appeared on the screen or some functions broke. Replacing the front camera, for example, caused Face ID and auto-brightness to fail. Apple says that the original parts, once installed, will be fully calibrated to the device when the changes take effect.

Last month, Oregon became home to the first right-to-repair law prohibiting parts matching. The law will take effect in January 2025. Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would also prohibit piece-matching and would have a hearing on the bill scheduled before the state Senate on Thursday. Apple did not respond to a request for comment on these measures.

“Let’s be 100 percent clear: This move is because state lawmakers are rejecting this practice,” says Nathan Proctor, senior director of the Right to Repair campaign for the Public Interest Research Group. “This move won’t happen unless state lawmakers say, ‘We don’t want to do this.’”

Apple also began offering some manuals and tools for people to repair their own devices in 2022, expanding them after California passed a law last year requiring manufacturers to make these materials available.

Apple did not immediately respond to a question about which parts will be covered when the change takes effect. The company says it has spent the last two years working to make some parts, like Face ID or Touch ID, reusable. “Future” versions of iPhone may support used sensors.

Apple also announced updates that may make iPhone theft less attractive in the future. The company says it will lock iPhone parts from phones reported stolen or lost, limiting their ability to calibrate to a different iPhone. It will also start showing people in your settings whether a part of your phone is genuine new or used.

These changes are a significant shift in Apple’s long-standing stance on third-party repair. But reparations advocates see these measures as a minimum, not a revolutionary turn. “This was a totally unsustainable and unethical practice to begin with,” Proctor says. “I’m glad it’s started to be restricted, but we need laws that prevent this from happening on any device from any manufacturer, not just a couple of phones from a single manufacturer.”

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