Apple is lifting some restrictions on iPhone repairs
3 mins read

Apple is lifting some restrictions on iPhone repairs

Apple announced Thursday that it would ease restrictions on repairing new iPhones with used parts such as screens, batteries and cameras. This represents an about-face from the previous practice of using software to encourage people to work with new and more expensive Apple-approved parts.

The change comes weeks after Oregon passed a law banning Apple's practice of tying parts to software, known as “parts pairing.” Similar bills are being considered in Colorado and more than a dozen other states. Apple objected before the Oregon law was passed, saying customers could be exposed to safety risks if Apple were required to allow cheaper third-party parts.

In the past, if an iPhone owner broke a part – a screen, for example – and installed an original, used Apple screen purchased from a source like eBay, the replacement screen would not work properly because its serial number did not match the serial number matched in Apple's database. The only way to install a fully functional replacement part was to purchase it from Apple, which had the tools to pair the part with the phone.

Apple's new policy removes these restrictions for the iPhone 15, which was released last year. Apple said the change will begin this fall and will apply to Apple Genuine Parts, meaning parts made by iPhone suppliers. When a genuine replacement part is installed, the phone automatically works with it without a technician having to provide Apple with a serial number. The replacement part then works seamlessly with the iPhone.

The about-face comes about five months after the publication of a New York Times report Analysis of Apple's increasing restrictions on iPhone repairswhich drove up costs for consumers.

In his Press release In announcing the change, Apple said the change would streamline the parts pairing process on some iPhones for used Apple screens, batteries and other parts to make repairs easier – not for components made by third-party manufacturers. These parts are typically less expensive and could save customers money on repairs. Replacing a cracked screen at an Apple Store costs about $300, about $100 more than the work an independent store does with a third-party screen.

An Apple spokesman said people could install third-party parts but that iPhones would continue to use software to warn them when this had happened because the company considered it important to customer safety. He pointed to a Study funded from Apple, which showed that most third-party smartphone batteries had failed safety tests and caused some fires.

Nathan Proctor, who has advocated for repair legislation in states on behalf of US PIRG, a nonprofit funded largely by small donors, said the move is a small step in the right direction. It never made technical sense for Apple to restrict the installation of authentic Apple parts for repairs, he said.

“It has always been an absurd and ridiculous practice,” Mr Proctor said.

Starting in January, Oregon law will require Apple and other customers to allow customers to use any parts they want for repairs – even those not approved by the original smartphone manufacturer. Apple would face a fine of $1,000 per day starting in 2027 if it doesn't comply with the law.

When Oregon's bill passed, Apple said it would support the repair legislation, but added that “the bill does not provide the consumer protections Oregonians deserve.”