iFixit Drops iPhone 14 Repair Score to ‘Do Not Recommend’

apple repair software message

iFixit’s Kyle Wiens announced on Tuesday the repairability score for Apple’s iPhone 14 from last year has been retroactively revised from a recommended 7 out of 10 to a do-not-recommend 4 out of 10.

Initially praised for its repair-friendly architecture, the iPhone 14 has faced increasing scrutiny for software limitations that make repairs difficult for both individuals and independent shops.

“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,” said Wiens, CEO of the teardown experts at iFixit.

Independent repair shops, which often rely on harvesting parts from broken devices or using third-party components, are particularly affected by Apple’s parts pairing practice. Wiens also noted that several repair professionals have opted to leave the business due to the complex obstacles set up by Apple.

The retroactive revision of the score reflects a significant change in the repair landscape, where software now plays a pivotal role. “Today, you need one more thing: a software handshake, using Apple’s System Configuration tool,” Wiens added. This tool authenticates the repair by contacting Apple’s servers, thereby limiting the use of aftermarket parts and requiring Apple’s approval for the repair to proceed.

Wiens criticized Apple for not notifying repair professionals about these changes, which have been gradually implemented since the introduction of the iPhone 5s. “One by one, the glitches and bugs add up to a broad strategy, a systematic plan to require Apple’s permission to perform any repair on the iPhone,” he stated.

Despite the mechanical design improvements in the iPhone 14, the software limitations have overshadowed these advancements. “This laudable mechanical improvement is undermined by a raft of software obstacles,” Wiens concluded.

Last year’s iFixit score for the iPhone 14 was the outlet’s best rating for an Apple smartphone since the iPhone 7 from 2016. But now it appears the publication has had a change of heart, despite praising last year’s internals redesign for easier repair. The downgrade announcement comes after today’s publication of the first iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro reviews.

The downgrade in the iPhone 14’s repairability score comes amid growing calls for Right to Repair legislation, aimed at making it easier for consumers to repair their own devices. Wiens urged Apple to take steps to improve the situation, stating, “Apple needs to do better. And frankly, so do we—so as of today, our repairability scores do a better job of reflecting reality.”

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