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You Paid $1,000 for an iPhone, but Apple Still Controls It


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Apples grip on the repairs creates an incentive for customers to spend up to $200 on device insurance, known as AppleCare, which provides free battery replacements and screen repairs.

The cost of replacing a cracked screen on a year-old iPhone 14 is nearly equivalent to the phone’s value, which Apple appraises at $430 in trade-in credit.

Credit: Jackson Gibbs

For a decade, it was easy to get help repairing an iPhone. Cracked screens could be replaced in minutes, and broken cameras could be exchanged without a hitch.

But since 2017, iPhone repairs have been a minefield. New batteries can trigger warning messages, replacement screens can disable a phone's brightness settings, and substitute selfie cameras can malfunction.

The breakdowns are an outgrowth of Apple's practice of writing software that gives it control over iPhones even after someone has bought one. Unlike cars, which can be repaired with generic parts by auto shops and do-it-yourself mechanics, new iPhones are coded to recognize the serial numbers for original components and may malfunction if the parts are changed.

This year, seven iPhone parts can trigger issues during repairs, up from three in 2017, when the company introduced a facial recognition system to unlock the device, according to iFixit, a company that analyzes iPhone components and sells parts for do-it-yourself repairs. The rate at which parts can cause breakdowns has been rising about 20 percent a year since 2016, when only one repair caused a problem.

From The New York Times
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