After months of no news, Apple has finally launched its self-repair program albeit limited to just the USA for now. And a software update has been issued to address flaws in the camera performance of the Studio Display.

Apple’s Self Repair Program is finally here

Today Apple announced the launch of their self-repair program. This follows the announcement of the program several months ago. For now, the program is limited to customers in the United States and to a limited product range. Specifically the iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 series along with the third generation iPhone SE.

With the launch of the program, Apple is providing access to original parts and tooling in addition to its genuine repair manuals. For users that would like to take advantage of the program, they can access an online storefront containing over 200 parts. While limited to just the USA to recent iPhone models as it currently stands, the program will expand to include Europe and Macs with Apple Silicon by the year’s end.

Once a customer purchases the parts they need, Apple will provide a rental kit which includes the tools needed to complete the repair. You’ll have access to the kit for 1 week before you are required to ship the kit back to Apple. Shipping is free and is a useful option for customers that don’t want to own the tools and simply need them to complete a single repair.

The rental kit contains tools to complete a self serve repair.

The reaction to the launch of the program has been largely positive however iFixit notes that it isn’t perfect. Customers must enter a device’s serial number before ordering and the parts they purchase need to be paired to the matching device serial number.

“Integrating a serial number check into their checkout process is a dire omen and could allow Apple the power to block even more repairs in the future,” said Chamberlain. “Building the technology to provision individual repairs easily sets Apple up as the gateway to approve—or deny—any repairs in the future, with parts from any source.”

For further information, you can refer to Apple’s whitepaper titled ‘Expanding Access to Service and Repairs for Apple Devices’.

The AppleTLDR take

Overall, this is fantastic news. Providing users with the option to complete repairs safely and with access to official repair guides is a big win. But there are a few things to consider.

  • As noted by iFixit, you’ll need to provide a serial number and pair components using Apple’s system configurator tool
  • Repairs will not be significantly cheaper. Apple’s in-store repair pricing can include labour costs depending on the repair (though never when it’s an in-warranty repair). But even out of warranty, labour charges are usually inexpensive. The in-store pricing also factors in that parts are shipped to the store/remote repair location in bulk. The cost of each individual part however remains the same regardless of where it is shipped.

These repairs aren’t significantly cheaper because the only saving that Apple can pass on is the cost of labour. Assumed labour costs are not bundled into the price of the part and the actual cost to make the parts hasn’t miraculously changed. And just because Apple will now sell you the parts, that doesn’t cover the cost of shipping individual parts as opposed to shipping them in bulk to a store. The parts were never going to be significantly less expensive and it is completely naive borderline foolish to assume otherwise.

Apple notes that the majority of users should still take their devices to Apple for repair. Even experienced technicians can and do make mistakes when completing repairs, never mind inexperienced users. And the AppleTLDR stance is in complete agreement with this. You really should not attempt these repairs unless you have some level of experience, are comfortable with device disassembly/reassembly and are willing to accept the risk of failure. I’ve seen many Apple employees fail repairs, all of whom are experienced, advanced technicians. But at least if Apple fails your repair, you won’t have to cover the cost of putting it right.

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