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Global repair community website iFixit reassessed the repairability of Apple’s iPhone 14 and decided to decrease its former 7/10 rating to 4/10. In its recent blog, it pointed out Apple’s systematic parts pairing or serialization, saying the process “undermines design improvements.”
Serialization is a process being observed now by Apple when its customers want to replace certain parts of their latest devices. To do it, the company requires users to buy parts from Apple directly, and it will be followed by a chat for software validation for the repair. This is where repair shops encounter problems.
As iFixit explained, these places commonly rely on parts harvesting using broken devices. However, despite getting legit parts from devices, the pairing requirement makes this a challenge. In particular, individuals who want to repair their Apple devices have to message Apple and tell the company their device’s serial number. Apple will then pair it with the digital number of the component that will be used in the repair. If this step is skipped, the repair won’t work or the device will just encounter issues like warning prompts about genuine Apple parts.
With this, iFixit revisited its earlier iPhone 14 repairability score, which initially received a 7/10 score. A huge factor that contributed to this score was the phone’s ability to open from both the front and the back, allowing easy replacement of the screen and other components. However, as iFixit’s blog explained, the software validation overshadows this repair-friendly hardware feature of the iPhone 14.
Most major repairs on modern iPhones require Apple approval. You have to buy parts through their system, then have the repair validated via a chat system. Otherwise, you’ll run into limited or missing functionality, with a side of annoying warnings.
Lots of independent repair shops have business models that are threatened by Apple’s parts pairing practice. Shops harvest parts from broken devices. They use third-party parts. They shouldn’t have to send Apple their customers’ personal information, or agree to five years of audits just to do the repairs they know how to do.
So when we gave the iPhone 14 a high score, the community pushed back. To be honest, they were right—and we’d like to thank our critics for helping us hold manufacturers accountable.
The situation has gotten so bad that several repair professionals have told us they’re leaving the business entirely rather than navigate the labyrinthine maze of obstacles that Apple has erected.
So we’ve gone back to the drawing board with our scoring system to make sure that it reflects this significant new software limitation on repairs. And now that we’ve run the iPhone 14 through our new scorecard, the picture isn’t as rosy. The iPhone 14’s new 4 / 10 score reflects the fact that individuals and independent repair shops encounter some atrocious limitations when trying to fix it.