Part matching, also known as ‘serialization’, works by matching the serial number of the phone to the serial number of an internal part so that the phone can detect if the screen, battery or sensor has been replaced. And as Chamberlain points out, the worst of this limitation is when you try to swap the screens of two iPhones that are still working because either the serial numbers don’t match, or customers have lost their smartphones. The bombing is carried out with warnings from. Has not been verified.
According to them, this bankrupts independent repair shops, as only Apple-authorized technicians can reassign these serial numbers to complete repairs. This is not only a problem for consumers but also for the environment. According to estimates by the WEEE Forum, a Belgian non-profit organization that studies electronic waste, 5.3 billion mobile phones were thrown away last year.
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iPhone repair rights by third parties
As of the 2021 anti-waste law, assembling parts is in principle illegal in France. “It says manufacturers should allow consumers to repair their devices without ever leaving a garage,” says Letitia Wasser, director of the French advocacy group Halte à l’Obsolescence (‘Stop Planned Obsolescence’, also known as HOP ), which in December was investigated by a Paris prosecutor because of a complaint against Apple. Violation of the law by the company was the reason for HOP’s complaint, Vasseur details. “If they want to sell their phones to France, they have to follow French law. If not, they have to pay a fine.”
Apple has already got approval in France. Following the iPhone battery scandal in 2017, France fined Apple 25 million euros ($27 million) for failing to inform consumers that upgrading the operating system on their devices would slow down the performance of older devices . That fine was also the result of a complaint filed by HOP and had ramifications around the world. Nine months later, as The Washington Post reported, in a case brought by 34 states, Apple was ordered to pay $113 million in the United States to limit the battery performance of older iPhones. The multinational battle against the consequences of this episode continues. According to Reuters, two weeks ago, the company urged a UK court to dismiss a $2 billion class action lawsuit accusing Apple of covering up faulty iPhone batteries through software updates.
It took a while to get off the ground, but the movement for the right to device repair has now gained real momentum. In 2021, the UK set out to set up rules to facilitate the availability of spare parts to manufacturers. In 2022, the German state of Bavaria began offering 200-euro vouchers to those who repair their devices instead of throwing them away, copying a policy enacted by the state of Thuringia a year earlier. In 2023, the EU also proposes to force companies to offer products that can be repaired for up to 10 years after they’ve been sold. In the United States, 46 out of 50 states have adopted some form of legislation on this right for various products, according to iFixit’s Chamberlain. She describes the recent Minnesota law in this regard and which is about to be approved as “the most comprehensive and the strongest” in the United States.
But France is still far ahead of the rest. Since the anti-waste law was implemented in 2021, phone makers are required to score their devices against a national index of repairability. Although the French Ministry of Ecological Transition sets the criteria, companies rate their products. iPhones generally score between 6 and 7 out of 10.
Vasseur is confident that the Paris prosecutor can repeat the success of the measures taken after the battery scandal, when the French decision led to a large number of fines and lawsuits. But expect something more than a simple nod this time around. “We’re looking even more for Apple to understand that it’s no longer possible to reserve device repairs for them,” he highlighted.