Editorial Office: Could the iPhone 14 be a sign that Apple is softening its response to the right to repair movement?

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Year after year, we hear from smartphone repair experts and phone-broken YouTubers telling us how bad the iPhone is to try and fix yourself. Swapping parts isn’t easy and often makes your iPhone much less useful by disabling certain features. Apple calls it a user privacy feature, but many others disagree.

The right to repair movement is not just about Apple; however, Apple’s track record with some of its decisions makes it easy to call out the company for its antagonism to the move. Does the iPhone 14 (opens in a new tab) change that?

The iPhone 14 has a separate glass back

As the devices start to fall into the hands of reviewers and customers, people have noticed that the back glass of the iPhone 14 is designed to be removable. (opens in a new tab). This is certainly true on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models, and according to MKBHD, the iPhone 14 Pro (opens in a new tab) and Pro Max also have this feature. So what does this mean for you?

Well, for starters, the back glass panel is now a separate piece from the rest of the phone, which means no ribbon cables or other components are attached to the back glass. This is radically different from previous models, which often required special and expensive equipment to take off.

In theory, this should make it easier to replace the back glass if it breaks and make it easier to access all of the phone’s internal components for any other repairs you might need to make.

Could this be the start of a fully self-repairing iPhone?

I want to do my best to be optimistic here, and this might just be the first of a wave of decisions Apple will make in the years to come to make it easier to fix your own iPhone. Maybe next year’s iPhone 15 will have even more improvements, and soon Apple will be called a champion of the right to repair movement. Hey, it could happen.

Of course, getting to the internals of the phone is only half the battle, because when you replace the iPhone 13 with the exact same part for another iPhone 13, you still get lots of errors. Face ID won’t work, the camera might screw up, and even the auto-brightness feature for the display. Watch the video above and see how problematic replacing a single part in an iPhone 13 can be.

The popular Youtube channel and website iFixit have been offering teardowns and repair tutorials for years, and even they were quite skeptical of Appel’s recent decision to include a self-repair program. Sure, you can pay a fee to get a big repair kit from Apple, but that’s more tools than you need, and there’s some important software you need to fix your iPhone. which is not accessible.

“The matching of parts sucks, and if Apple doesn’t remove it, passing the right to repair is the best way to get this software. Just like cars, diagnostic and repair software must be open, and you shouldn’t have to buy just one type of tyre, it’s ridiculous.”

Experts leading the charge on the right to repair movement (like iFixit) can see that the self-repair program has some way to go to become a very useful tool that any customer can use.

Hope we see more progress

Repairable or not, the iPhone 14 and iPhone Pro will likely be seen over the next few weeks as teardown and repair experts begin to dig deeper into the new hardware.

The truth is that the right to repair movement is going nowhere, and Apple’s response going forward will be closely scrutinized. Making the back glass on iPhone 14 models easier to repair is one step, but clearly many more have to come before customers can count on improving their devices themselves.

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