As Right to Repair legislation garners support from both sides of the political aisle, Apple is doubling down on its anti-consumer practices. A now-complete teardown from iFixit shows that the iPhone 13 reaches “a new low” for repairability, as it’s effectively impossible to repair at home without losing key features like Face ID.
This story isn’t as cut and dry as you might think. Yes, the iPhone 13 scored a 5/10 on iFixit’s repairability scale—that’s a worse rating than any other modern iPhone. But Apple actually made some serious improvements here. Most components in the iPhone 13 are modular and held by screws instead of adhesives, so they’re fairly easy to replace. Opening the phone is still a breeze, and if you aren’t scared of the soft L-shaped battery, you won’t have much trouble prying it out.
But as it stands today, only Apple will benefit from these improvements. That’s because the iPhone 13 loses a ton of its functionality when you replace its components. The iFixit team tried transferring batteries, screens, cameras, and other components from one iPhone 13 to another, only to find that software prevents the iPhone 13 from fully accepting these donor parts.
If you replace the iPhone 13’s screen, for example, then you lose Face ID. Only certified Apple repair specialists can get around this issue using proprietary repair software. Unless this software leaks to the public or is reverse-engineered, you must repair your iPhone 13 on Apple’s terms.
We’re bummed to see Apple take a small step in the right direction only to continue violating its customers’ right to repair. Some repair experts claim that the non-interoperability between iPhone 13 parts is a bug, but we’re yet to see an official word from Apple.
For more info on the iPhone 13’s internals, check out iFixit’s full iPhone 13 teardown. You should also consider subscribing to iFixit’s newsletter for breaking info on Right to Repair news and new product teardowns.