Apple is opening up its iPhone repair program to include independent businesses, providing them with the same resources as Apple Authorized Service Providers — a move that activists hope will help prevent e-waste. The tech giant says its program will launch first in the United States before expanding to other countries.
Previously, the company only allowed Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) to make iPhone repairs. Currently there are more than 5,000 AASPs worldwide that are certified to provide in- and out-of-warranty service for Apple products, according to the company.
Over the past year, Apple says it piloted the AASP expansion with 20 independent repair businesses North America, Europe, and Asia before rolling it out officially. In June, Apple formed a partnership that expanded the AASP network into every Best Buy store in the United States.
Joining Apple’s independent repair program is free for businesses large and small, the company said. In order to qualify, the business must have an Apple-certified technician on staff, and certification for that is also free. Qualifying repair businesses receive genuine Apple parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics for the same cost as AASPs, according to the company.
“We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.
The company had been under pressure to expand repair options, in part because of concerns over un-repaired devices becoming electronic waste.
“Apple’s decision to allow more third-party repair shops to fix its products comes after criticism from consumers and ‘right-to-repair’ activists over the company’s previous policy of encouraging customers to seek repairs only from authorized service providers or the company’s own technicians,” Waste Dive’s Tatiana Walk-Morris pointed out. “Apple was previously opposed to allowing independent repair companies to fix its devices, and it has also admitted to using software to slow down its older devices.”
Walk-Morris cited Global E-waste Monitor statistics from 2017 saying that around 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste get produced globally on an annual basis.