People look at Apple Inc’s new iPhone 14 as its models go on sale in Beijing, China, September 16, 2022.
Thomas Peter | Reuters
The iPhone 14, which went on sale last week, is the most repairable iPhone since the iPhone 7, which came out in 2016, repair advocate and tools vendor iFixit said in a blog post.
Apple has redesigned the internal structure in the iPhone 14 to allow users to remove and replace both the device’s back glass and its screen by removing only two screws, according to the teardown conducted by iFixit.
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The changes will make it easier for Apple store employees, independent repair shops and end users to replace the phone’s screen, back glass and battery, the most common fixes for most smartphones.
“Apple has completely redesigned the internals of the iPhone 14 to make it easier to repair,” wrote Kyle Wiens, founder of iFixit. “It is not at all visible from the outside, but this is a big deal.”
The high-end iPhone 14 Pro models don’t use the new, more repairable design, according to iFixit.
This year’s repair-friendly design on the iPhone 14 is in contrast to other iPhones and many Android devices that use glue and tight tolerances that make it more difficult to fix older phones.
Apple‘s iPhone redesign comes as advocates continue to push for laws that give consumers access to manuals, tools and parts needed to repair increasingly complicated electronic devices and industrial machines, which they say will make them last longer, reducing e-waste and environmental impact, while saving money for users.
Advocates call the cause “right to repair,” and many states across the U.S. have considered legislation that would force consumer electronics companies to publish manuals and sell genuine replacement parts. Lawmakers in New York passed a right-to-repair measure earlier this year. It hasn’t been signed into law yet.
The issue is also gaining attention at the federal level. President Joe Biden supports right to repair and he asked the Federal Trade Commission to draft right-to-repair rules in an executive order in 2021. The FTC also produced a report delivered to Congress in 2021 about the legal landscape around right to repair, identifying mobile phones and car manufacturers as two industries with restrictions around repair.
Apple has taken some steps in recent years toward making it easier to repair its devices. In April, it introduced a program called Self Service Repair that allows users and independent repair shops to rent the same tools that Apple stores use as well as purchase genuine replacement Apple parts. The company also made repair manuals for its devices available through the program.
However, Apple still insists that visiting an Apple-certified technician is the best way for the vast majority of customers to fix their devices.
“This design improvement is a big win. These changes to the iPhone will help it last longer and reduce its overall impact on the planet,” Wiens wrote.