The Huge Apple Toolkit For Fixing Your IPhone

It’s been a frequent criticism of Apple, that their products are difficult to repair. They’ve hit back with a self-repair program for iPhones, and should you wish to take advantage of it they will hire you a tool kit. Not the iFixit box you might expect, instead they give you two hefty suitcases that contain 36 Kg of tools and equipment. Yes, you can repair an iPhone, but they ensure that it’s not for the faint-hearted.

In the kit is an impressive array of everything you might need for your iDevice, including the proper heat plate and press for the job. None of that messing about with a hot air gun for your $49 rental cost and $1200 if you don’t return the tools, but it remains an impossibly difficult and expensive process for all but the most dedicated of Apple fanboy technicians.

The sense from the Verge article is that Apple have had their arm twisted to the extent that they must provide a repair option, but they’ve gone to extravagant lengths to make it something nobody in their right mind would pursue. There’s an attraction in the idea of playing with a fully-equipped Apple repair kit for a few days, but maybe it’s not worth the cost.

Even without the Apple toolkit, it’s still possible to upgrade your iPhone.

Thanks [Nikolai Ivanov] for the tip.

71 thoughts on “The Huge Apple Toolkit For Fixing Your IPhone

        1. Why would you rent the optional in-house tools and pay a precharge if you don’t want to use their in-house tools?

          If you intentionally go out to rent something you don’t want or need, just to complain, the only maliciousness is on your part.

    1. 1. Iphone requires specialised workshop to be repaired and lots of skill
      2. Someone wants to repair iphone on their own
      3. Someone is surprised when they are loaned a specialised workshop and need skills.

        1. Amendment:
          0. iPhone was designed with complete anti-repair-ability in mind.

          I’m surprised they haven’t just filled the whole thing with resin to make it a solid block.

  1. > Yes, you can repair an iPhone, but they ensure that it’s not for the faint-hearted.

    Well, people want the highest-level tech they can get and are surpirsed that it requires high-level tools to repair. What’s next, people compaining that they can’t rewrite they open-source software because they don’t have skills?

    1. “highest-level tech” doesn’t necessitate glued together “everything” and so on…

      In the not so distant past every piece of “highes-level tech” came with it’s own circuit diagram inside the case and you could get at it with normal screws (penta-screw-you-lopple)

    2. As I said somewhere else I’d like to see Louis complaints addressed when he tried to become an apple phone repair shop. The requirements were onerous to say the least. If Apple truly believed in the right to repair movement instead of the current RIAA “dragged kicking and screaming” behavior then they would have a better process in place for shops that want to do the work.

    3. I think you’ve completely missed the point.

      A modern automobile is also “high level tech”. But I stiil have a reasonable expectation of being able to change a flat tire without renting a 1200-dollar tool, or replacing the battery without having to apply a heat gun to the hood because it’s been glued shut.

      Add to that the ridiculous and subjective competion between manufacturers to make cell phones thinner…as though that’s of unending benefit. My Galaxy is already so thin I find it difficult to hold on to… between that and the “sleek’ case, it’s not about IF you drop it, the issue is WHEN. And, if you so much as drop it on a pillow you’ll crack the screen. So the first thing I do is buy an Otter case… which automatically doubles the thickness.

      If the phone’s enclosure was the same size as the Otter case to begin with, a person could actually hang on to it, all the bumpers and shock protection could be integrated into the phone without creating the thermal mgmt problems the Otter case creates, AND you could make the battery removable and the screen replaceable.

      I want to say that modern cell design is just plain stupid, but perhaps it’s not. It fits the business model that millenials have been brainwashed to accept: high price, poor reliability/durability, and a resignation to having to buy the same appliance over and over again so as to remain “current”.

      “Telecom” was once second only to military stuff for reliability. I can still buy a 1930s era Western Electric phone on ebay, and it will work even after Ive used the bakelite headset to pound a nail into a wall.

      My last cell phone, on the other hand, split itself in half when the non-removable lithium battery committed suicide.

    4. My company bought a network analyzer for $5mil. It is highly repairable, since the chassis opens with screws, the circuit boards are labeled, and the OS allows loading custom software off a USB drive so I was able to set up a network share and write a few Python scripts to automate it and integrate it into our workflow. Most of the hardware is standard except from some ASICs and the RF parts which you can buy from the manufacturer and install yourself if the service warranty has already expired.

      Is a $5mil network analyzer higher-level than an iPhone?

      1. the $5mil network analyzer is absolutely not higher level than any modern smartphone, it has no custom build cpu, it uses (in comparison) huge components and so on.

        a 100k watch is also not more higher level than a smartwatch – just more expensive

  2. “impossibly difficult and expensive process for all but the most dedicated of Apple fanboy technicians”

    I didn’t like the Verge take on the repair process, and I don’t like this much better.

    Maybe don’t insult the audience?

    Yes, criticism of Apples manufacturing process and difficulty of repair are absolutely valid. That’s not what I’m seeing here though. Instead I’m seeing people criticize the skills required to do a repair, like they expect their 5yr old could do it if it weren’t for Apple…

    Why not discuss and compare for repair of their equivalent competition?

    Maybe toss in a discussion about dealing with counterfeit parts and preventing security breaches by questionable fix it shops?

    1. May be toss in a line about not building devices such it requires a ton of equipment and a year’s schooling to complete a simple task that you know is coming.

      Batteries wear out. They are going to need to be replaced.

      Apple (and most other phone manufacturers) build the phones such that it is hard to change the battery (DIY) or expensive (have it done by a qualified technician.)

      It’s as though a car manufacturer built the wheels such that you had remove the wheels from the car to inflate them, and then used proprietary tools and bolts to keep the car owner from airing up their own tires.

        1. Or just about anything else on modern cars. It is seriously (I’ve timed it) faster for me to remove the engine from my 1975 Spitfire to get to the clutch plate, than change the sparkplugs on my modern Subaru. Step 1 of replacing a blown headlamp on the Subaru is “remove the front wheel”. augh.

          1. Step 1 of replacing the brake master cylinder on a new ‘bug’…remove front bumper. (true)

            Step 1 of replacing the headlamp of an English sports car…remove rear bumper. (old joke based on truth but not specifically true)

            To be fair, 1975 spitfire engines go bad much more often then Subaru headlights. Put a mouse in that car.

          2. Though there’s a transverse V6 that’s meant to need engine pulling to get rear plugs, but just putting it on ramps gives you a great “sit up and reach between engine and firewall” angle on it… guess if you put it flat on a lift the angles are awkward, and it needs to be crouch height for arms to reach or some crap and it gets to be a stupid position to work in. Anyhoooo, some things that say they need the engine pulling don’t. Another one is some timing belts that say that, but you can usually get them with just unbolting the mount that side and jacking the engine up a few inches.

        2. it’s actually fairly easy, provided you have a car lift and a dolly that can hold the 600-800lbs pack…just *normal* screws (no pentalobe crap) and a few connectors

      1. Thank you. That’s the most useful and insightful analogy – car or otherwise – that I’ve read in quite some time.

        It’s important to maintain an awareness that much of the inability to perform basic repairs and maintenance on everyday devices is entirely arbitrary. It usually results from a rent-seeking, damn-the-planet mentality on the part of insufficiently-regulated companies.

      2. Your dollars drive their design. People vote with their money for phones that have a nearly borderless screen, are thin and sleek, are waterproof, and are durable. Phones of any brand are designed with this in mind, including Apple’s. If people were willing to compromise on these features, we would have a phone that was waterproof, durable, and not glued together with glued in batteries but also not nearly as sleek and thin.

        1. I’m fine with “not sleek and thin” as long as I get “replaceable battery” and “repairable.”

          I’m not fine with “costs six times as much.”

          I went looking for a thicker phone with a replaceable battery the other day, and kept coming up with stupidly expensive ruggedized phones.

          I see someone has posted a link of the FairPhone. That looks good. I’ll keep it in mind the next time I need a new phone. Repairable and only twice as expensive as a regular phone.

          1. If this is a subtle request for recommendations, some low-end manufacturers don’t care as much about thinness and use removable batteries.

            I recently got one from Cubot for <£100, with a removable battery and a headphone jack, and I've been impressed enough that I feel the need to recommend the brand to anyone who'll listen

            Also they leave the bootloader unlocked, so you don't run into the software-obsolescence problem, unlike my previous huawei which I'm still mad about

            (huawei gave bootloader unlock codes on request when I bought it, but by the time a new android version came out they'd stopped, and no amount of pointing out to them that I owned the phone rather than them could get anything more than a templated "unlocking bootloader risks bricking your phone so we don't let you" email)

        2. “Your dollars drive their design.”

          And “dollars” drove the decision to change from lightening to USB-C in the European market. It’s nice to know that not every product decision is driven by the consumer but by governments, or sometimes internal corporate desires. e.g. headphone jack.

        1. True 20 years ago.

          Now: Reparability is inversely proportional to price.
          Expensive cars with 8 year maximum expected lives are flexes, ‘Look how rich I am! I don’t even care that Benz’s are junk now. I paid 4x for the Maybach logo! Admire my stupidity you peasants. I don’t care it is falling apart, I’m buying a new one next year anyhow.’

          Like Chuck and his Saville row clad ‘keeper of the royal toilet seat’. Swiss watches that keep crap time and need yearly $1000 services. 10 year old cognac labeled as 300 years old and sold in a crystal bottle (everybody knows booze age is lies, C14 dating has proved it, not just the frogs). Yearly, high dollar, media blasting of engine intake valves. Etc etc.

          All ‘I’m so rich I don’t even care’ flexes.

      3. There have been cars that have needed the spare wheel to be removed to change the spark plugs. Some new cars don’t have spare wheels. I seem to recall another car that needed the manifold removed to change the spark plugs.

        Special software is a must for working on modern motor vehicles – and the cost from the manufacturer is astronomical.

        We choose to buy phones this stuff – who really NEEDS a smart phone.

        Been able to repair your own stuff is a blessing and a curse.
        If you can fix stuff you end up with a shed full of half working things waiting for you to spend some time on fixing it.

        The current state is our own fault. We desire the nice shines new toys and she’ll out big dollars for them. The reality is MOST people don’t care if they can’t change their battery.

        Even changing a couple of AA’s in a TV remote is a challenge for a lot of people.

        Making the tools and parts available for independent repair agents is a must but as can be seen from the automotive industry- it’s a problem that has been with us for a long time and will be for a long time into the future

    2. >and preventing security breaches by questionable fix it shops?

      Since we are specifically talking about the iphone, I think that’s a pointless argument for anyone without a security clearance. The tools, knowledge, etc needed to pull data off the iphone without permission is far beyond the average repair shop. After all, even law enforcement/the FBI has had to contract that out, or or buy specialized stuff (yes, I know it was posturing and acting to try to get their way, but that itself means it’s out of the average repair shops ability).

      1. Argument rejected: look at the sophistication of credit card skimmers for gas pumps.

        People are willimng to invest time and energy for money, and today’s cellphones have access to people’s financial information: credit cards, bank accounts, passwords, etc. If there’s a vulnerability that makes those accessible, someone will learn to use it, and will pay for it with money they steal.

        Allowing board-level replacement of components and dropping the ‘now call Apple and confirm the repair’ step expands the attack surface dramatically.

  3. I find it funny that only Apple is being criticized of hard to repair. And when they release toolkit, they make fun of Apple. Are android phones actually easier to repair? Do android based manufacturers provide toolkit?

    And my assumption is that the criticizers are actually Android users..

    Based on iFixit:

    iPhone 12 Pro Max repairability: 6/10
    Google pixel 5 repairability: 6/10

      1. I just got a Fairphone 4 and couldn’t be happier with it from this perspective. It needs just a few small hand tools to repair and replace all parts, just have to live with the fact that the IP rating is not as good as less repairable phones from the big names.

  4. I like the analogy to cars. Lets say the right to repair got to the point where car manufacturers would send you the equipment to change your own tires. (Tyres for the other side of the pond.) You would receive 4 pallets that need unloaded at your home. On the pallets are: (1) an air compressor. (2) a tire removal/install machine. (3) a tire balancer machine. (4) various air tools as well as a jack, jack stands, tire core removal tool, how to manual, etc. How many people would take advantage of this rather than sitting in a waiting room, watching tv or reading magazine etc. while professionals take care of it for you. IMHO there are some things you let others do for you.

    1. For cars I can go to dozens if not hundreds of car mechanics/tire shops/garages in the areas that all have the required tools and can do the job for relatively little cost. The manufacturer of the car doesn’t give a crap what brand of tire I buy and buying different tires or having them mounted by some other shop doesn’t void the warranty of the car. The analogy is crap.

      1. In my experience one can go get iPhone battery changed in a local shop for 50 EUR (including the battery) and takes just an hour.

        And on the other hand those wireless tire pressure sensors on cars can sometimes be quite specific about what brand of sensor to have in the tires you put on, if you want to retain the functionality.

        1. They’re equally sensitive to the size of tire you mount on the rim. Or any other type of sensor being appropriate. You can purchase them from anyone wanting to make (and brand) one, generally.

  5. If you are the type that wants to fix their own device, or upgrade it, or modify it, or likes to understand technology on anything beyond the most basic of magic black box levels or even just someone who ever chooses to read this website…

    And you choose to buy an iPhone…

    I think the “repair kit” you really need to rent actually comes in the form of a psychologist.

  6. People want thin and water-resistant, so the cheapest and probably most reliable way to achieve that is to glue everything together. I would purchase a phone which had a thick metal bezel allowing the screen to be secured with fasteners and a rubber gasket, especially if were ruggedized such that it didn’t need a $50 phone case. Perhaps Apple should simply produce a rugged, fastener-secured phone as a compromise.
    Most people are probably fine with what’s essentially a throwaway phone, since by time the battery is failing they want the latest features anyway. The sensible solution there is to not buy *expensive* throwaway phones. There are actually many Chinese models which fit this category without being garbage (many are actually quite good), but this of course doesn’t extend to Apple, only Android-based devices.

      1. Give me a choice between otherwise identical phones and I will chose water resistance. But give me a choice of a phone with a batter that I can swap out and I want that one!

        It seems like people’s favorite argument for glued together phones involves dropping it in the toilet. I’ve never done that. But if I did I’m not sure it matters so much that the phone survives. I’m not holding an object from the toilet against my face! WTF people!

        I guess it would be nice to rescue my photos from it but there are plenty of ways to make a phone back those up beforehand.

        1. I guess if the phone survives it’s toilet swim and I’m evil I can sell it online and buy myself another phone.

          But I like buying used phones. They are like cars, so expensive when brand new, so much better after only a couple of miles. Maybe this is what other people are doing, selling their toilet phones. Eww!

          Now I am thinking that NOT being water resistant is a feature I might choose!

        2. I bet your dog gives you sloppy kisses. Sometimes right after getting a drink of water.

          I prefer water resistant phones because they are just generally better built. By which I mean tougher. I’m hard on phones.

          I buy unlocked new phones, but one model off the bleeding edge. They go obsolete before the battery is dead. Going to want a 5G phone soon.

  7. Repairability (and upgradability) needs to be engineered into the product design right from the start. It’s understandable that for profitability reasons (including making the customer buy a whole new device when the original breaks) that the companies would resist doing so. Which is why it needs to be legislated– because continuing to create all this e-waste is not sustainable and a threat to our planet and our children. This will certainly increase the initial cost of the product but in the end it is to the benefit of the consumer (and planet/kids) and will reduce long term cost of ownership.
    Alas, as a pessimist, I believe that greedy CEO and stockholders lobbying corrupt and greedy politicians will never allow this to happen. Prove me wrong!

  8. Battery and screen.

    Those are likely the two things that need replaced most often.

    If they made it just easy enough for repair shops to do it quickly and cheaply, the phone repair shops would probably be booming again, but, that means it’d stop broken phones from being removed from the market. It’s the same reason I was able to trade in an old phone for well above what it would cost used on eBay. They sell you a new phone, and ensure you don’t give the phone to anyone else (so, they also have to buy a new phone).

    It’s about making all repair options not cost effective, if the phone repair is going to cost $300 (or $150 plus lots of time, with a high chance of failure), and they will give a $300 trade in, then an $800 phone is basically a $200 upgrade fee to get the newest and coolest phone.

  9. “Apple fanboy technicians”

    I really don’t think one would need to be an Apple fanboy to be a technician that would make good use of this kit. There’s plenty to criticize Apple for, but editorial this trite only takes away from the proper criticisms.

  10. The price to buy the kit is actually quite reasonable. But what’s ridiculous is that few (if any) tools at all should be needed to do a simple battery replacement, the serialization of parts (even freaking batteries) that requires one to contact Apple to “pair” the replaced item to the phone and the inability to stock replacement parts beforehand.

  11. Are you describing the Moto Defy? because it sure sounds like you’re describing the Moto Defy.

    That phone sure was the pinnacle of smartphones. Did all the smartphone things and was pretty tough while while the ruggedness added negligible bulk. Shame it never got a successor.

    1. The old Defy or the Defy 2021?

      The original was an early rugged phone. Was only waterproof if you kept track of all the plugs for USB etc. Wasn’t great.

      The new one is just an average ruggedized droid with no serviceable parts.

      Ruggedized is a nearly required feature in the Japanese market. I first assumed it was social bathing, but someone on /. informed me they can’t take phones into bathhouses, so that’s not it. They assumed it was Japanese neurotic fear of getting caught in the rain.

  12. I don’t understand why ‘thin’ and bigger is in. Give me a phone (using that term loosely) where I can put in some ‘say’ AA style or flat rechargeable batteries with simple screw access. I bet most repairs involve just replacing the battery and good to go again. Remember the flip-phone? Nice and compact and fit easily in your pocket with basic phone capability and text…. And removable battery pack too. What else you need a comm device for anyway? If you make the product simple enough, the cost comes down and can treat as a throw-a-way if something goes haywire beyond the battery. Basic repair tool – screw driver. :)

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