Monday, November 13, 2023

iPhone Parts Pairing

Tripp Mickle, Ella Koeze, and Brian X. Chen (via Hacker News):

Unlike cars, which can be repaired with generic parts by auto shops and do-it-yourself mechanics, new iPhones are coded to recognize the serial numbers for original components and may malfunction if the parts are changed.

This year, seven iPhone parts can trigger issues during repairs, up from three in 2017, when the company introduced a facial recognition system to unlock the device, according to iFixit, a company that analyzes iPhone components and sells parts for do-it-yourself repairs. The rate at which parts can cause breakdowns has been rising about 20 percent a year since 2016, when only one repair caused a problem.

The software phenomenon, which is known as parts pairing, has encouraged Apple customers to turn to its stores or authorized repair centers, which charge higher prices for parts and labor. In recent years, only approved parts and sanctioned repairs have avoided the problems. Replacing a shattered screen typically costs nearly $300, about $100 more than work done by an independent shop using a third-party screen.


Update (2023-11-20): Nick Heer:

So long as everything we use moves closer to becoming a computer, this problem will grow because some legislation does not explicitly prohibit it while other laws have loopholes. Right to repair advocates and the Times have framed this as a financial issue. But I am not sure that is the case; as I have written before, it is much more likely that these companies simply do not prioritize repairability. To be clear, that is not an excuse. If anything, I think that is even worse; it implies a lack of caring in how something is built if it is not made with repair in mind. Remember Apple’s butterfly keyboard? Shipping a faulty family of keyboards for years was bad enough, but it was made a fiasco because of how it was assembled — it was often easier to replace the entire top case of an affected laptop, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, instead of changing individual keys.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Sébastien LeBlanc

This suppose the 3rd party part is the same quality as the first-party part, which they are NOT ! But when the device is sold as refurbished, this information is not disclosed... Some company in France just got caught for that (French article)

It almost sounds like a protection racket…

One system message after booting, warning that the device has non-genuine parts, is fine. This should protect customers who get a repair without being told where the parts came from. But disabling basic functionality should be outlawed in my opinion.

Some car parts unfortunately also require being paired by the manufacturer nowadays. Immobilizers are one such part, but possibly there are others as well.

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