Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Models Feature New Design, Yet Score Low on Repairability

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Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro Models Feature New Design, Yet Score Low on Repairability

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL )'s latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, which went on sale last Friday, feature a new frame design that potentially simplifies the process of screen repairs or battery swaps. The new design, which binds the phone's main components to an aluminum frame attached to the titanium casing, allows easier access to these parts, typically the most common smartphone fixes.

However, despite the design improvements, iFixit, a parts vendor and advocate for gadget repair, gave both models a low repairability score of four out of ten. The poor rating is attributed in part to Apple's use of software that locks parts to specific devices, complicating independent repairs.

This information was revealed in a teardown analysis by iFixit. "Parts pairing in these models extends beyond mere mechanical compatibility, requiring authentication and pairing through Apple's System Configuration tool, further limiting genuine replacements to Apple-blessed ones and substantially impacting independent repair enterprises and the overarching issue of e-waste," iFixit explained in a blog post.

The analysis also spotlighted that Apple's iPhones are now using a Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM ) X70 modem to connect to cellular carriers. This comes after Qualcomm announced earlier this month its commitment to supply Apple with modem chips through 2026.

In addition to the design changes, Apple has also reduced the cost for swapping a cracked back glass plate on the new models to $149 or $169, compared with $499 or $549 on last year's Pro models. The price for screen repairs remains unchanged at $329 or $379 depending on display size.

Apple had previously supported a right-to-repair bill in California earlier this year, which passed in September. This legislation obligates manufacturers like Apple to provide rental tools, repair guides and authorized parts to users for home device repairs. In 2022, Apple introduced Self Service Repair, a service that allows repair shops and end users to rent professional-level repair tools and purchase replacement parts directly from Apple.

The right-to-repair movement is closely tied with the environmental movement, as repairing gadgets and extending their lifespans aids in reducing e-waste and keeping them out of landfills. Apple emphasized its commitment to environmental work in its product announcements earlier this month, including marketing its Apple Watch Series 9 models as carbon neutral.

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