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Apple Launches Do-It-Yourself Repairs For iPhone 13, iPhone 12 and iPhone SE

An Apple iPhone
Until now, Apple has allowed repairs only through its AppleCare program or through authorized technicians.
Sarah Tew/CNET

What's happening

Apple is posting repair manuals and selling parts for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and the 5G iPhone SE. Later this year, it will expand to new Mac computers, too.

Why it matters

Letting people repair their own device could help the environment as well as people's pocketbooks.

What's next

The Right to Repair movement is pushing to make repair manuals more broadly available.

Apple on Wednesday followed through on its plans to begin publicly releasing repair manuals for some of its products, in addition to selling parts and tools online. The goal, the company said, is to allow iPhone owners an alternative way to repair their devices.

The tech giant's new program, called Self Service Repair, is starting out for US customers with Apple's iPhone 13 line of smartphones, the iPhone 12 and new iPhone SE. Apple said it designed the program to offer adventurous and capable people access to the same parts, tools and instructions it gives to its own certified technicians and partner repair shops, hopefully making it easier for people to repair devices instead of resorting to buying a new one.

"We believe we have a responsibility to customers and the environment to offer convenient access to safe, reliable, and secure repairs to help customers get the most out of their devices," the company wrote in a document published Wednesday that outlines its plans.

Apple's do-it-yourself program comes at a time when it and the larger tech industry are under pressure to allow people the choice to repair their devices at home for lower costs, an idea that's often called Right to Repair

The larger Right to Repair movement has been gaining steam in the past couple years. It's become a popular topic on social media sites, including through videos of tech influencers teaching people how to repair various devices. Lawmakers and voters in states across the US are increasingly considering and passing laws forcing companies to change their approach as well, particularly by publishing repair manuals and giving customers access to diagnostic tools for the products they buy. 

In 2020, voters in Massachusetts passed a law forcing auto makers to allow third parties to access vehicle data that had previously been locked away. Less than a year later, in 2021, President Joe Biden signaled support for Right to Repair when he signed an executive order asking the Federal Trade Commission to consider rules that would make it harder for companies to restrict how people can repair their devices

Some of the tech industry's biggest players, meanwhile, have spent the last year offering repair programs of their own. Companies including Google, Samsung, HTC and Microsoft announced partnerships with the popular online repair site iFixit to sell parts or tools for some of their devices.

Apple for its part won't offer all replacement parts for its devices, focusing instead of common problems like cracked screens and malfunctioning batteries or cameras. It's also building diagnostic tools into its purchasing program to help calibrate and authenticate new parts if they're needed. Those diagnostic tools won't be made available unless people buy the parts from Apple, the company said.

Apple's program will begin by offering parts for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and iPhone SE. The company plans to expand its program to Europe and to offer M1-based Mac parts for repair by the end of the year. Apple doesn't plan to offer do-it-yourself repairs for products made before the iPhone 12, which first launched in 2020.

Cracked Apple iPhone

It's no fun when a phone screen cracks. It's not cheap either.

CNET

Fixing your device

Since announcing its at-home repair program, Apple's emphasized that most people would probably be better served by an experienced technician. But for those who believe they can do it themselves, Apple's self-service repair site will have a copy of the repair manual that the company asks you to read before ordering any parts or tools.

To ensure people have read the correct manual, Apple will include a code in the reading that people are required to input into their parts order before it's confirmed. This, Apple said, is one of the ways to ensure people have not just read the manual but also the correct one corresponding to the device they're ordering parts for.

People will be able to buy "Genuine Apple Parts," which the company says are being sold to customers at the same prices it charges service technicians, which may be more expensive than a repair by a cracked phone repair kiosk in a mall. Apple said its parts are "designed to meet the same high safety and quality standards as parts used in new products."

An iPhone 12 display and screw replacement bundle, for example, reached as much as $269.95, which included the display, screws and replacement adhesives. 

Apple will also sell the same tools meant for high-volume repair shops that heat displays to soften adhesives and separate phones or press new displays together. Some of the tools cost hundreds of dollars, though, so Apple said that it will offer rentals as well. For the iPhone 12, a tool rental kit would cost $49 including shipping.

Customers will received a credit back on the final cost if they return the broken parts to Apple, the company added. Apple will then either refurbish or recycle that part, in its ongoing efforts to create a closed-loop manufacturing process.