The time to fix your own phone is near

When I called iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, I thought he would celebrate – after years of fighting for the right to repair, big companies like Google and Samsung suddenly agreed to supply spare parts for their phones. They also signed agreements Him Sell ​​those parts through iFixit, with the company’s repair guides and tools. The valve is the same.

But Vince says he has not made deals yet. “More is yet to come,” he says, one in two months from now. (No, this is not Apple.) Motorola first signed up almost four years ago. If Apple makes sense with them in delivering spare parts to customers in early 2022 – the era of repairing your own phone may be underway. Last October, the United States effectively legalized the opening of multiple devices for repair purposes, exempting them from the Digital Millennium Patent Act. Now, the necessary parts are coming.

What changed? Didn’t these companies fight tooth and nail to repair from the desk, sometimes secretly stopping bills at the last minute? Surely. But some laws are enforced anyway … especially since a French law could have been the focal point.

“The thing that changes the game above all else is the French repair scorecard,” says Vince, who, when referring to the 2021 law, said technology companies should disclose how much their phones can be repaired – from 0.0 to 10.0 – next to the price tag. Apple was even forced to add repair scores – but instead Vince points me to this press release from Samsung. When Samsung commissioned a study to check if the French repair scores made sense, it did not easily find the scorecards – it was a shocking one. Eighty percent of respondents are willing to give up their favorite brand for a high-scoring product.

You can see the repair score on the bottom right of the product page.
Screenshot: Apple.com

“Extensive research has been done on the scorecard and it works,” says Vince. “It’s driving behavior, it’s changing consumer buying patterns.”

Paste and meet the carrots. Seeing an opportunity, Vince advises these companies to contract iFixit.

Nathan Proctor, director of the campaign for the right to repair at the US Public Welfare Research Council (US PIRG), thinks the stick should be thanked first and foremost. “100 percent says cheek … but none of this would have happened without the threat of the law.”

“These companies have known for a long time that these are problems, and until we organize enough influence to make it seem inevitable that no adults have particularly good repair plans, and now they all report them,” Proctor notes. He drew my attention to the fact that the European Parliament voted in favor of 509-3 and called on the EU to compel manufacturers to repair equipment.

“I think there’s a growing sense of resignation and the realization that phones can last a long time and there’s nothing they can do about it,” says Vince.

Google may also have a financial incentive, Proctor agrees. “Google is a big, big company, but their pixel phone sales are not a big part of the market, are they? Some of the carrots can do something about the very popular anti-belief, anti-monopoly issue in the area where they do not have a dominant player.

What are the practical reasons why technology companies in the past did not claim the right to repair, concerns about customers accidentally puncturing their batteries or breaking their phones, and forcing people like Google or Samsung to handle more support calls? Vince says they are a little too much. But he also explains why these companies chose iFixit because his website offers repair guides and specially designed tools that reduce the chance of people being screwed.

Even Samsung, Google and Valve do not need to open the flood for all kinds of repairs. Wiens says iFixit will not sell any boards with chips, so if your Pixel creates a bad boot loop problem that affects many Nexus phones, you will need Google to fix it. “[Boards are] Definitely something to look at, but there are supply chain challenges in making them, ”he says.

Google Pixels with iFixit tools.
Image: iFixit

Importantly, newer parts of iFixit, such as official screens and batteries, need to include more common areas in temporary storage, and iFixit is committed to supporting phones, even if factories have to store “last chance” components when they stop production. Although it is difficult to predict how many components they will need, manufacturers are helping some, sharing data with iFixit such as how many phones have been sold.

iFixit already has hundreds of thousands of parts in the offsite warehouse, and Wiens says it is currently expanding as a result of these deals. Wiens will not say whether technology companies subsidize parts or how much you will pay, but iFixit says it will buy and sell on the markup.

Although not every type of repair requires officially approved parts, there may be some advantages: iFixit’s repair kits come with the same type of pre-cut waterproof gaskets that Google and Samsung use to properly re-seal. Their own phones. “Until you do it right, get the label all the way, and then you’re fine again,” says Vince.

He says this is something that needs to be done every year or every two years as the adhesive that manufacturers use to water their gadgets wears away over time. “You do your first test in the shower, and you’re happy with it, after three months it does not mean it will still work in the shower,” he adds.

Regardless of whether these companies are pushed or guided, the result may be the same: a good enough phone for your old age, otherwise it will be better for longer. Advocacy groups such as politicians, governments, regulators, stakeholders and the US PIRG are under pressure, and this could open up opportunities.

“The market is changing and if people have phones for too long … eventually companies will change and find a way to make more money in that environment, right?” Proctor says a durable phone may be another way to stick to customers. “I encourage those incentives to stick a little more with what is best for the people on the planet now.”

I fully expect technology companies to continue to oppose repairs in some ways, even when it pretends to be acceptable. (We’ve already seen this from Apple, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment on its self-service repair plan this week.) There are a number of ways companies can overcharge or throw away parts. Scary warnings – for its credit, Apple seems to be backtracking on it.

Also, they will motivate you to quickly upgrade to newer phones such as how carriers withdrew the subsidy model last year to boost sales while the community is stuck at home, and how Apple wants to sell the iPhone. A subscription service now.

But when the battery of my iPhone mini expires and there is no new mini to replace it, I can replace the battery myself. And if not? Let me take a note and switch to the newly repairable Pixel.

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