Apple locks down iPhone with weird pentalobular screws

Apple is screwing around with your iPhone -- preventing you from taking your expensive mobile apart by using a rare new type of screw.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films | TV | Movies | Television | Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read

Apple is screwing around with your iPhone yet again. This time JobsCo is preventing you from taking your iPhone apart by using proprietary pentalobular screws.

The pentapointy screws were first used by Apple in the MacBook Air but they're more commonly seen in cars. The Japanese and other international iPhones are held together by pentalobular screws, while US versions that have been repaired are being returned with their Phillips 00 screws replaced by the fiddly fixings. New US iPhones are also fastened with pentalobular screws.

The screws aren't exactly proprietary, but they are new and rare. The screws require a special screwdriver rather than a standard Phillips-head jobby, making it harder to get hold of the kit required to crack open your iBlower.

We've never felt a burning need to take an iPhone apart, but there are plenty of modders out there who feel that once they've bought something it's their absolute right to take it to bits, and they're quite right too. More importantly, the dodgy screws are another barrier to replacing the battery.

The new screws were spotted by iFixit, the DIY gadget-repair site best known for cracking open the latest gadgets to see what makes them tick. iFixit is hopping mad about Apple's latest attempt to prevent you from replacing the device's battery yourself, therefore forcing you to either buy a new device or pay £55 to have the battery replaced. Which, by the way, takes a week, and wipes your phone.

Coincidentally, iFixit is offering a $10 kit with a pentalobular screwdriver and Phillips screws and screwdrivers to replace them. How kind.

Apple probably isn't that bothered. It did, after all, make $6bn profit last year.

Have you bought a new iPhone lately, or had one repaired? What kind of screws does your device have? And have you ever felt the urge to take your phone apart, or are you content to let Apple dictate what you can and can't do with the device you paid several hundred pounds for?