Thursday, April 11, 2024

Used Genuine Apple Parts and Parts Pairing

Apple (MacRumors):

Today Apple announced an upcoming enhancement to existing repair processes that will enable customers and independent repair providers to utilize used Apple parts in repairs.


And in order to simplify the repair process, customers and service providers will no longer need to provide a device’s serial number when ordering parts from the Self Service Repair Store for repairs not involving replacement of the logic board.


Apple will also extend its popular Activation Lock feature to iPhone parts in order to deter stolen iPhones from being disassembled for parts.

Brian Heater (MacRumors):

Components that don’t require configuration (such as volume buttons) were already capable of being harvested from used devices. Today’s news adds all components — including the battery, display and camera — which Apple requires to be configured for full functionality. Face ID will not be available when the feature first rolls out, but it is coming down the road.

At launch, the feature will be available solely for the iPhone 15 line on both the supply and receiving ends of the repair. That caveat is due, in part, to limited interoperability between the models. In many cases, parts from older phones simply won’t fit. The broader limitation that prohibited the use of components from used models comes down to a process commonly known as “parts paring.”


“‘Parts pairing’ is used a lot outside and has this negative connotation,” Apple senior vice president of hardware engineering, John Ternus, tells TechCrunch. “I think it’s led people to believe that we somehow block third-party parts from working, which we don’t. The way we look at it is, we need to know what part is in the device, for a few reasons. One, we need to authenticate that it’s a real Apple biometric device and that it hasn’t been spoofed or something like that. … Calibration is the other one.”

They don’t block third-party parts from working, but they do make sure they’re real Apple parts. I’m so glad to have that clarified.

“Parts pairing, regardless of what you call it, is not evil,” says Ternus. “We’re basically saying, if we know what module’s in there, we can make sure that when you put our module in a new phone, you’re gonna get the best quality you can. Why’s that a bad thing?”

Jason Koebler (tweet):

Seemingly magically and surely not coincidentally, Apple has announced that it will suddenly ease some of its “parts pairing” iPhone repair restrictions just weeks after Oregon passed a law banning this practice and on the same day that Colorado is considering a bill that would do the same.


What this means, practically, is that Apple will let you swap the screen of one iPhone with the screen of another iPhone, something that was impossible for a consumer or independent shop to do under the restrictions it has implemented on recent iPhone models. The current announcement will not allow for aftermarket parts to be used, which is a critical distinction. Aftermarket parts are widely used in other electronics, other companies’ smartphones, and they used to be widely used in iPhones prior to the parts pairing restrictions.

Nick Heer:

This all sounds pretty great and, it would seem, entirely triggered by regulatory changes. But it also seems to me that it is designed to challenge the parts pairing section of Oregon’s right-to-repair law (PDF).


Update (2024-04-12): Matt Birchler:

I find these to be very “the sky is falling” stories about the dangers of user choice, but what makes the part pairing issue interesting is that we have history here. I believe it wasn’t until the Face ID generation of iPhones that tons of iPhone components had the “part pairing” issue, so we have about a decade of iPhone history where third party parts were able to be used to repair broken iPhones.

John Bumstead:

Parts from needlessly Activation Locked devices are EXACTLY the parts that NEED to be allowed and EXACTLY the parts that exist in abundance. If Apple is banning their reuse, they are making the situation WORSE. This is newspeak at its finest.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Harald Striepe

How will this impact the market in stolen iPhones harvested for parts?

You’ll find out by watching eBay ‘sold’ prices for iPhone 15 parts… take a screenshot now and then in a year from now and compare.

My guess: Parts that are iCloud unlocked will probably sell at the same or higher prices, locked ones will see prices go down and likely fewer of them. eBay has strong buyer protections, so items that are not iCloud unlocked will be returned at the seller’s expense, so strong incentive for the seller to post an accurate listing.

You can also compare the change by looking at the iPhone 14 part market vs the iPhone 15 part market.

Or wait for some grad student’s dissertation.

Sudden step changes in rules like this is actually an economist’s dream.

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