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Apple wants to be joking.

That’s how I felt again and again as I jumped via hoop after ridiculous hoop to replace the battery in my iPhone Mini. Part of that was the repair task — mostly, it was how complicated Apple makes it to even gather there.

Last month, Apple launched its Self-Provider Repair program, letting US customers fix broken screens, batteries, and cameras on the latest iPhones the usage of Apple’s acquire parts and tools for the first time ever. I couldn’t wait. I’d never efficiently repaired a cellular phone — and my companion has never let me dwell down the one time I broke her Samsung Galaxy while the usage of a hair dryer to replace the display. This time, armed with an official repair manual and accurate parts, I’d make it fair.

A repair station in a box — or two.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

That Apple would even let me purchase those parts, vital less read its manuals and rent its tools, is a major change of pace for the company. For years, Apple has been lobbying to suppress fair-to-repair insurance policies around the country, with the company accused of doing everything it can to sustain customers from repairing their very acquire phones. It’s easy to survey this as a astronomical moment for DIY advocates. But having tried the repair task, I actually can’t recommend it at all — and I have a sneaking suspicion that Apple likes it that way.

The article you ought to detached understand about Apple’s home repair task is that it’s a far wail from traditional DIY whenever you happen to decide for the kit — which I did, once I saw the repair manual easiest contains instructions for Apple’s acquire tools. (You can sincere purchase a battery whenever you happen to want.)

I expected Apple would send me a small box of screwdrivers, spudgers, and pliers; I acquire a mini iPhone, after all. Instead, I chanced on two giant Pelican cases — 79 kilos of tools — on my front porch. I couldn’t reflect sincere how astronomical and heavy they had been fascinated by Apple’s paying to ship them each ways.

I lugged those cases onto a BART train to San Francisco and dragged them down the streets to our workplace. Then, I spot everything out on a table and obtained started.

Apple’s Self-Provider Repair kit laid out on a table.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Step certainly one of opening an iPhone is, basically, the usage of a hefty machine to suck the display off the top. Here, I wasn’t microwaving a jelly-stuffed sock to loosen the Apple goop retaining my display down! Apple enables you to rent an industrial-grade heat station that appears to be fancy a fraction of lab equipment, fair down to the astronomical red safety dial you twist to release the emergency-off button and the suction-cup-tipped mechanical lifting arm. It appears to be attractive icy.

Sizzling pocket!

Photo by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

I journey my cellular phone in a perfectly sized “heating pocket” that clamps a ring of copper around the iPhone’s band to evenly distribute the heat and melt the seal around the display, realize in fright that I’ve invited the “Sizzling Pockets!” jingle to dwell in my head rent-free, then hurry a dial to raise the arm that separates the iPhone’s display from its body.

Or, that’s how it’s supposed to work, anyhow. The heating machine threw an error code partway via my first attempt, and Apple’s manual didn’t explain what to enact if that happens after you’ve stuck your cellular phone inside of. So I afflict up heating it twice in a row. And yet, that detached wasn’t barely ample for my display to “immediately” pop up when the suction cup arm began to retract the glass. The manual did quilt that situation, making me hurry a 2nd hidden knob to build more stress on the suction cup, but I started freaking out when I saw what appeared fancy cracks spider across the display. (It became out it was sincere suction cup residue.)

Here’s the suction cup arm.

Calm by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

Once the display was unfastened, I prick via the softened glue retaining it to the iPhone’s frame with Apple’s single tiny adhesive cutter, which also gave me a cramped anxiety. The blade obtained caught when I wedged it below the corners of the display, and I had to yank it out without accidentally sending my cellular phone clattering to the floor. The kit comes with a preferrred-fit tray to maintain your cellular phone steady and extra suction cups to maintain the display without stretching the fragile ribbon cables but nothing to maintain the tray itself.

The manual images a technician retaining the display with one hand while cutting back adhesive with the diversified, but I also had to maintain the tray to sustain it from sliding around.

Image: Apple

Apple also affords a spot of fancy torque drivers to make obvious you don’t screw down the cellular phone’s tiny screws too tightly, but it absolutely’s a bit of a chore. I have to have dropped Apple’s extremely tiny fasteners a dozen times while doing away with the slivers of metal that maintain the display’s ribbon cables in place, as well as the bottom speaker that Apple makes you yank to gather at the battery. Presumably sincere to make it more complicated to repair, Apple requires three diversified screwdriver bits sincere to purchase the display, and none of Apple’s bits are magnetized to sustain the screws from slipping.

The torque driver has several swappable bits, and you’ll need at least three.

Photo by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

At this level, there was detached a bunch of goopy adhesive around the perimeters of my iPhone’s frame. While instructions indicate it’ll sincere peel off in a few astronomical pieces whenever you happen to pull with tweezers (which didn’t come in the box), I gave up after 10 minutes of picking away at tiny fuzzy blobs of glue. I was sincere going to be adding more adhesive anyway, after all. Later, I came upon this was no longer my most efficient idea.

When it finally lay originate on the table, I couldn’t abet but gawk in wonder at my iPhone 13 Mini’s exactly packed guts, and I realized I was having fun! Decreasing originate my cellular phone was a thrill. But a lot of that thrill came from no longer shiny whether my cellular phone would continue to exist surgical treatment — Apple tools or no.

Calm photos don’t enact it justice — particularly no longer mine.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

From there, it was time to swap out the battery. When I performed cursing at the far too easy to tear tabs that held in the original lithium pack, I veteran Apple’s fancy battery press with a rolling arm to seat — but no longer squish — the brand new battery down. But I may probably have accomplished that with my fingertips; I’d have vital rather had a tool to well align the battery, which I had to yank and reposition after plopping it down a millimeter too far south, or a tool to test whether you’ve well reseated the battery and display connectors. But I’ll gather to that.

Subsequent, the instructions had me apply an actually beneficial precut adhesive sheet designed to stick my display back to the frame, which was easy to slot into exactly the fair place and press down with my fingers. Then came a astronomical spring-loaded press (with a veritable slot machine of an arm) to close the cellular phone yet again. But even with the press, my display wasn’t perfectly flush with the frame afterwards, perhaps due to the extra glue I didn’t manage to purchase.

Apple’s display press is a one-armed bandit.

Photo by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

With my cellular phone closed up again, I held down the facility button. Nothing. No intellectual white Apple brand — no response at all. For one injurious moment, I realized Apple gave me no way to test whether the battery and display connectors had been actually seated (they probably weren’t) and had me close up the cellular phone anyhow.

Then, a forlorn hope: maybe the replacement battery shipped empty? I scrambled around the workplace for a Lightning cable, and… my iPhone 13 Mini finally lit up.

Sorry, Brian, you probably did your most efficient.

Photo by Sean Hollister / The Verge

But I wasn’t accomplished yet. The single most frustrating part of this task, after the usage of Apple’s accurate parts and Apple’s accurate tools, was that my iPhone didn’t be aware the accurate battery as accurate. “Unknown Part,” flashed a warning. Apparently, that’s the case for almost all of those parts: you’re expected to dial up Apple’s third-party logistics company after the repair so that they can validate the part for you. That’s a task that involves having an exclusively separate laptop and a Wi-Fi connection since you have to reboot your iPhone into diagnostics mode and give the company remote management. Which, in fact, defeats a bunch of the reasons you’d repair your acquire machine at home!

And, if I’m telling you the fact, the 2nd most frustrating part didn’t happen all via the repair either. If it had been sincere me, I’d have aborted your entire task earlier than Apple ever shipped 79 kilos of equipment to my home.

It can be an understatement to say that Apple has a history of resisting fair-to-repair efforts. Sooner than the iPhone, replacing a battery was typically as easy as inserting a thumbnail to pop off your cellular phone’s back quilt; afterwards, phones largely became tough to even originate without specialized tools, which arguably pushed customers to replace their perfectly apt gadgets when they may have easiest wished a new display or battery. Also survey: batterygate.

In latest years, the company has actively lobbied against fair-to-repair legislation in at least 20 states, sneakily pushing California, as one example, to delay its bill. (The bill died in committee again this very week.) Apple cracked down on unauthorized repairs by throwing warnings and even disabling features whenever you happen to repair phones with non-“accurate” parts, although it walked some of that back after an outcry. And it build together a contract for indie repair retailers that was reportedly so invasive, many refused to signal it.

So, it didn’t surprise me when Apple’s press release about the program warned “the vast majority of customers” away from their very acquire repairs, or when I needed to enter my cellular phone’s IMEI to indicate I owned my cellular phone, or how I had to enter a six-digit code to indicate I read the repair manual, which no longer easiest suggests you need three pages value of tools but also a jar of sand in case your battery catches fire — certainly one of many no longer strictly necessary gadgets that don’t come with the kit. Apple also easiest involves instructions on how to train its acquire special tools for repairs, so that you’re on your acquire whenever you happen to want to are attempting a more low-key or inexpensive DIY approach.

Yeah, none of that stunned me. What stunned me was the note tag.

$69 for a new battery — the same note the Apple Store charges for a battery replacement, apart from right here I gather to enact all the work and assume all the danger.
$49 to rent Apple’s tools for a week, more than wiping out any refund I would gather for returning the broken-down veteran part.

A $1,200 credit ranking card maintain for the toolkit, which I would forfeit if the tools weren’t returned within seven days of offer.

Let’s be clear: that is a ridiculous amount of danger for the average one that sincere wants to build a new battery in their cellular phone. And it’s frankly peculiar for Apple to exclaim on you overlaying the plump value of the tools. “It’s no longer fancy whenever you rent a car they make you place down $20,000 as a safety deposit,” my colleague Mitchell Clark facets out.

I ought to detached also mention the Pelican cases landed at my door two days earlier than the battery arrived, so I easiest had 5 days to enact the job earlier than that $1,200 deadline.

My taking a seek cart. Earn a load of the fine print.

Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The more I mediate about it, the more I realize Apple’s Self-Provider Repair program is the real way to make it seek fancy the company supports fair-to-repair insurance policies without actually encouraging them at all. Apple can say it’s giving consumers access to everything, even the same tools its technicians train, while scaring them away with excessive prices, complexity, and the danger of losing a $1,200 deposit. This way, Apple gets credit ranking for walking you via an 80-page repair, instead of building phones where — say — you don’t need to purchase the cellular phone’s most delicate parts and two diversified forms of safety screws sincere to replace a battery.

To me, those giant Pelican cases are the proof. It may probably value Apple a fortune to ship 79 kilos of equipment to individual homes all over the country, even with corporate discounts. The Verge is clearly far, far smaller than Apple, but it absolutely would value us upwards of $200 sincere to return those cases to their sender. But Apple affords free shipping each instructions along with your $49 rental, plus a dedicated toughen team to validate your parts and facilitate returns. (Though, apparently, it doesn’t enact the latter anywhere near its Silicon Valley HQ: when I took the toughen team up on its offer of picking up my battery, they told me they didn’t have a driver within 250 miles of my location, and I ought to detached sincere fall it off at the nearest Home Depot.)

I don’t mediate Apple expects anyone to seriously take it up on the offer of self-service repair kits. It stacked the deck in favor of taking your cellular phone to an Apple Store, where it can tempt you to purchase something new instead. The real victory will come months or years down the road, although. That’s when Apple can narrate legislators it tried to give fair-to-repair advocates what they wanted — but that consumers overwhelmingly determined Apple is aware of most efficient.