WTF?! Last November, the company announced it would sell select parts to private individuals starting early this year. On Wednesday, Apple rolled out its "Self Service Repair" program in the United States, but look before you leap. It's likely going to cost you more than taking it in for service.
The program is somewhat limited for now. Currently, Apple only sells batteries, bottom speakers, cameras, displays, and SIM trays to US customers. Additionally, parts are limited to just five models of iPhone — iPhone 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max, and iPhone 13. However, Apple says it plans to expand the service to other countries and will have parts available for M1 Macs later this year.
Repairs often require specific tools to get the job done. Customers can buy them outright, but with items such as a display press and heated display removal fixture costing over $200, most patrons will want to rent a tool kit for $49 unless they are planning to start a repair business.
Each tool kit rental is specifically put together based on the model of the phone, and contain all the equipment needed for any supported repair. The tools are pretty heavy, with kits weighing about 79 pounds.
Apple targets the parts and tools toward qualified technicians but is not limiting individuals who feel like they are up to the task of a DIY iPhone repair from buying and renting the supplies.
Apple offers repair manuals and other resources free of charge for those not familiar with the iPhone's inner workings. The company highly recommends that customers read through the appropriate repair manual before biting off more than they can chew. Obviously, Apple will not be responsible for botched repairs, broken tools or parts damaged by the customer.
All that said, there is one caveat. Apple says it is selling the parts to individual customers for the same price as it sells them to authorized service centers, but looking at the costs for parts and tools shows that there are not really any cost savings versus having Apple perform the task. In fact, DIY repairs cost the same or more than letting Apple do it.
For example, an Apple battery replacement costs out-of-warranty customers $69. To do it themselves requires a battery and screw kit. This package costs $69 for iPhone 12 and 13 and $49 for iPhone SE, not including tools (a battery press runs $115). More expensive repairs save a little money, but only if you already have the tools.
Apple charges $279 to replace an iPhone 13 screen. To do it yourself, you need the iPhone 13 Display Bundle, which goes for $270, although Apple will refund $33.60 if you return the broken screen for recycling, making for a net cost of $236.40. However (and this is the kicker), unless you have the repair equipment, you'll have to rent the tool kit for $49, bringing the cost back up to $285.40 — about $16 more than you would pay Apple to do the job.
So while it's nice that Apple is loosening its policies, which used to forbid home repairs completely, it has made it far too expensive to be practical. Hopefully, if enough pressure is applied, this Self Service Repair program will be more practical down the road. Until then, it's nothing more than just window dressing for the Right-to-Repair movement.