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Apple will allow customers to repair their own iPhones

The right to repair movement
The right to repair movement 04:50

Apple says its customers will soon be able to repair their own devices using authentic Apple parts, tools and guides — a sharp turnaround for a company that has long been protective of its hardware.

The company announced on Wednesday that a new self-service repair program launching in early 2022 will initially be available for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and focus on common repairs like cracked screens, battery issues and camera problems. Users will be able to purchase the parts and tools needed for repairs directly from the company.

The program is launching in the U.S. first and will expand to other countries throughout the upcoming year, Apple said.

"Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, in the announcement. "In the past three years, Apple has nearly doubled the number of service locations with access to Apple genuine parts, tools, and training, and now we're providing an option for those who wish to complete their own repairs."

Right to repair advocates have criticized Apple in the past for its tight control over its hardware and software — down to creating proprietary screws for the iPhone a decade ago, making it impossible for consumers to open their devices. Such practices steer consumers to overpriced repair networks or lead them to throwing out electronics before they end of their useful lives, critics charge.

In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on companies that restrict do-it-yourself repairs. That same month, the FTC voted unanimously to adopt a new policy giving consumers expanded rights to repair their devices.

"These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency," FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in July.

Apple customers currently have to repair their products through the company or use an authorized service provider, of which there are more than 5,000. In 2019, Apple also launched an independent repair program that gives 2,800 independent technicians access to parts and tools for repair.

Apple said the new self-repair program is "intended for individual technicians with knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices," adding that customers must review the repair manual before they can order parts. Apple said the program will expand in 2022 to also include the Mac computers that feature M1 chips.

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