I tried Apple’s self-repair program with my iPhone. Disaster ensued. – The Denver Post

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By Brian X. Chen, The New York Times Company

Apple last month released its first self-repair program that gives people access to the parts, tools and instructions to fix our own iPhones. It made waves when it was announced last year because it was a turning point for the right-to-repair movement, which has urged tech companies for more than a decade to provide resources so we can revive our electronics.

It was also music to my ears. As someone who became a do-it-yourselfer during the pandemic, I was excited to try Apple’s new program with my iPhone.

“How hard can it be?” I thought.

Very hard, it turns out.

For people like me who have little experience repairing electronics, the self-repair setup was so intimidating that I nearly wussed out. It involved first placing a $1,210 hold on my credit card to rent 75 pounds of repair equipment, which arrived at my door in hard plastic cases. The process was then so unforgiving that I destroyed my iPhone screen in a split second with an irreversible error.

The catastrophe unfolded even though I called in an expert, Shakeel Taiyab, an independent phone repair technician in south San Francisco, for help. After reading Apple’s manuals and trying the tools with me, Taiyab said he applauded Apple for trying to empower iPhone owners but had a harsh verdict.

“They set up the customer to fail,” he said.

The self-repair program, I concluded, is impractical for most people. For starters, the cost of renting the equipment and purchasing parts from Apple — $96 to replace my iPhone 12’s battery — was more than the $69 an Apple store charges to do the job. And as my experience shows, the process was challenging even with Apple’s tools.

Apple discourages most people from trying self-repair. “For the vast majority of customers, the safest and most reliable repair is achieved through an Apple Store” and thousands of authorized repair centers, the company said in a white paper last month. “Repairing modern electronic devices that are complex, highly integrated and miniaturized isn’t easy.”

This raises the question of why Apple rolled out the self-repair program in the first place. It is probably no coincidence that it made the move after the Federal Trade Commission said last year that it would ramp up enforcement against tech companies that made it hard for people to fix their electronics.

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