Apple Claims iPhone 8 And iPhone X Are Too Complex For Mere Mortals To Repair

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Back in the good old days, it used to be rather trivial to replace components on many smartphones. If your battery was dead, you just popped off the back panel and installed a fresh one. Cracked display? Loosen a few screws, lift up the display panel, remove a few flex cables and you're good to go (i.e., iPhone 4/4s).

However, as smartphones have become more complex (and laden with glue and more intricate components), those easy repairs have become more difficult to complete on your own. With that in mind, Apple is telling users that they are better off not trying to fix new smartphones like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus using components that they source. This is probably not the kind of commentary that many technical-minded folks want to hear, but Lisa Jackson, Apple VP of Policy and Social Initiatives, says "I don't think you can say repairability equals longevity." In other words, just because it may be more difficult to repair a modern iPhone shouldn’t be seen as a knock against the overall durability and robustness of the device when used over a number of years.

iPhone8Plus color selection

As we saw from iFixit's teardown of the iPhone 8, which achieved a repairability score of 6 out of 10, the device has copious amounts of adhesives used throughout, especially on its back panel. For that reason, Apple would rather that you skip trying to be a hero by replacing your broken display or back glass, and instead turn to an Apple Store or an authorized Apple retailer.

"Our first thought is, 'You don't need to repair this.' When you do, we want the repair to be fairly priced and accessible to you," said Jackson at the Disrupt conference in San Francisco this week. "To think about these very complex products and say the answer to all our problems is that you should have anybody to repair and have access to the parts is not looking at the whole problem."

For those that live in more remote areas of the United States (or the world for that matter), obtaining an iPhone might be a relatively easy affair by ordering from and having it delivered to your front door. However, getting that device repaired by an "authorized" service center -- should the need arise -- could mean traveling hundreds of miles and wasting hours of your day in the process. For those looking for same-day repairs, "accessible" simply isn't a part of the equation.

iphone 8 back glass
Removing the back glass on the iPhone 8 (image courtesy iFixit)

And as we reported this week, be prepared to pay an arm and a leg for some iPhone repairs, should the need arise. For example, replacing the back glass on the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus will cost you $99; and that's after putting down $129 for the AppleCare+ extended warranty ($149 for the iPhone 8 Plus). Without AppleCare+, that same back glass repair would cost $349 on the iPhone 8 and $399 for the iPhone 8 Plus. That's a lot to ask for devices that retail for $699 and $799 respectively. When the iPhone X lands in early November, its AppleCare+ cost will be a hefty $199 on top of its MSRP of $999.