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Apple will start selling you the parts you need to fix your iPhone in early 2022

The company’s Self Service Repair program will also offer support for its Mac computers

Starting in early 2022, iPhone owners in the United States who want to try repairing their ailing device can do so with some help from Apple itself. (Chris Velazco/The Washington Post)
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Shattered screens and aging batteries in iPhones used to require a trip to the Apple Store — or a local repair shop — to fix. But starting in early 2022, iPhone owners in the United States who want to try repairing their ailing device can do so with some help from Apple itself.

Apple surprised “Right to Repair” advocates by announcing a new Self Service Repair program, which will allow owners of its products to request the official tools, components and manuals needed to repair damaged Apple products on their own.

“Creating greater access to Apple genuine parts gives our customers even more choice if a repair is needed,” Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, said in a statement.

At first, Apple will sell parts and tools for repairing iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series smartphones, including commonly needed components such as batteries and cameras, from an online storefront. After that, the company plans to offer similar repair resources to people who want to repair their M1-powered Mac computers. (For now, it’s unclear how much those specific replacement parts will cost consumers.)

Once consumers have completed their repairs, they can send their old, used components back to Apple to be recycled.

Apple’s shifting stance comes after prolonged scrutiny of tech industry repair restrictions. In May, the Federal Trade Commission presented a report to Congress outlining the ways companies can make getting their products repaired more difficult. And in July, President Biden signed an executive order that tasked the agency with tackling “unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items.”

While replacing iPhone screens and swapping batteries can be easier than most people expect, the process still isn’t always simple. Even getting into the iPhone itself can be difficult — Apple uses adhesives to seal its phones shut, and repair technicians frequently rely on heating pads or heat guns to soften that glue before successfully cracking the device open.

Because of that, Apple still cautions that “the vast majority” of people should still leave such repairs to professionals. Even so, the company’s about-face on the idea of letting consumers repair their own products has advocates feeling cautiously optimistic.

“One of the most visible opponents to repair access is reversing course, and Apple’s move shows that what repair advocates have been asking for was always possible,” said Nathan Proctor, senior director of the nonprofit U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Right to Repair campaign. “After years of industry lobbyists telling lawmakers that sharing access to parts, service tools and manuals would result in safety, security and intellectual property risks, Apple’s sudden change indicates these concerns were overblown.”

IFixit, a website that offers guides and sells tools for fixing electronics, welcomed the news.

Chief executive Kyle Wiens said Apple pioneered glued-in batteries and proprietary screws and now it is taking the first steps on a path back to long-lasting, repairable products.

“iFixit believes that a sustainable, repairable world of technology is possible. We are looking forward to seeing Apple follow up on this commitment to improve their repairability,” he said in a statement.

Heather Kelly contributed to this report.