Think Twice Before Repairing Your Apple Products at Home

Is hacking open your smartphone really a good idea?

Key Takeaways

  • Apple says it will soon start providing parts and tools to allow you to repair your own devices. 
  • But repair professionals say that the process of fixing Apple products can be very tricky. 
  • Fixing your own device could end up costing you money if things go wrong. 
Someone repairing a smartphone.

Guido Mieth / Getty Images

Apple is finally giving the nod to repairing your own devices, but experts say it might not be a good idea for most users. 

The company announced a new program to make spare parts for Apple products available to purchase starting early next year. The program, known as Self Service Repair, will let users fix broken devices using repair manuals that Apple will post on its website. Don't reach for your tools too fast, however. 

"If your screwdriver touches the wrong components, you could short out the circuit board that runs the phone, resulting in a $500+ repair or replacement of the phone," Tim McGuire, the CEO of Mobile Klinik, a mobile phone repair business, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

You Fix It?

Apple said it would start selling some components that tend to require replacement, such as displays, batteries, and camera modules. More than 200 parts and tools will be available at launch, and plans for more to be added later next year. 

The repair program will initially be available only for iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 users but will later expand to Mac computers that use Apple's new in-house M1 chip.

"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 news release. "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."

You Break It?

Some experts say the Self Service Repair option could be useful for skilled DIY-ers. 

"For users who have the technical ability to repair the devices, it's a great way to provide them with the necessary tools and parts to properly perform the repairs on their own schedule," ComputerCare's CEO, Georgia Rittenberg, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Many users have a better idea of how they've been using their devices, which may help them get to the bottom of the issue faster, Josh Wright, the CEO of CellPhoneDeal, told Lifewire in an email interview. It could also speed up the repair process, helping to mitigate waiting times and provide a better experience. Allowing users to repair their own devices could also help Apple deal with more complex repairs and reduce waiting times for those too. 

But Rittenberg pointed out that the Apple program is intended for users with a high skill level. 

"As someone who has sat and watched repairs performed, they are definitely more detailed and complex than some individuals might realize," Rittenberg said. "The last thing that I would want would be for someone to accidentally damage their device because they didn't know when to ask for help."

Internal view of an iPhone.

Joel Rohland / Unsplash

The details in the Apple news release about the repair program make it clear that the company is not urging overconfidence. 

"Self Service Repair is intended for individual technicians with the knowledge and experience to repair electronic devices," Williams wrote in the news release. "For the vast majority of customers, visiting a professional repair provider with certified technicians who use genuine Apple parts is the safest and most reliable way to get a repair."

McGuire said that repairing your own device could end up costing you money if things go wrong. 

The simplest repair—replacing a battery—requires the screen to be removed from the phone, and it's easy to crack the screen while removing it, he said. 

"So saving $25 on the battery replacement could cost you $350 for a new screen," he added. 

At the very least, make sure you have the skills, tools, and knowledge to do it right before wrenching open your pricey iPhone, experts say. 

"Technically, we all have the right to do our own root canal surgery, but we go to trained dentists and endodontists who have the skills, experience, and expertise to do it right," McGuire said. 

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