Apple shipped me a 79-pound iPhone restore tools to restore a 1.1-ounce battery

Apple must be joking.


That’s how I felt repeatedly as I jumped by way of hoop after ridiculous hoop to modify the battery in my iPhone Mini. Part of that was the restore course of — largely, it was how powerful Apple makes it to even get there.

Last month, Apple launched its Self-Service Restore program, letting US prospects restore broken screens, batteries, and cameras on the newest iPhones using Apple’s private elements and devices for the first time ever. I couldn’t wait. I’d certainly not effectively repaired a phone — and my partner has certainly not let me keep down the one time I broke her Samsung Galaxy whereas using a hair dryer to modify the show. This time, armed with an official restore handbook and actual elements, I’d make it correct.


A restore station in a area — or two. Image by Sean Hollister / The Verge

That Apple would even let me buy these elements, rather a lot a lot much less be taught its manuals and rent its devices, is a critical change of tempo for the company. For years, Apple has been lobbying to suppress right-to-repair insurance coverage insurance policies throughout the nation, with the company accused of doing each half it’d most likely to keep up prospects from repairing their very personal telephones. It’s easy to see this as an unlimited second for DIY advocates. Nonetheless having tried the restore course of, I actually can’t advocate it the least bit — and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Apple likes it meaning.

The issue it is best to understand about Apple’s home restore course of is that it’s a far cry from standard DIY in case you go for the tools — which I did, as quickly as I observed the restore handbook solely contains instructions for Apple’s private devices. (You can merely buy a battery in the event you want.)

I anticipated Apple would ship me a small area of screwdrivers, spudgers, and pliers; I private a mini iPhone, in any case. In its place, I found two huge Pelican situations — 79 kilos of devices — on my entrance porch. I couldn’t think about merely how large and heavy they’ve been considering Apple’s paying to ship them every strategies.

I lugged these situations onto a BART put together to San Francisco and dragged them down the streets to our office. Then, I set each half out on a desk and acquired started.


Apple’s Self-Service Restore tools laid out on a desk. Image by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The 1st step amongst opening an iPhone is, principally, using a hefty machine to suck the show off the best. Proper right here, I wasn’t microwaving a jelly-filled sock to loosen the Apple goop holding my show down! Apple lets you rent an industrial-grade heat station that seems like a bit of lab gear, correct all the best way all the way down to the big purple safety dial you twist to launch the emergency-off button and the suction-cup-tipped mechanical lifting arm. It seems to be like pretty cool.

Scorching pocket! Image by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

I slip my phone in a splendidly sized “heating pocket” that clamps a hoop of copper throughout the iPhone’s band to evenly distribute the heat and soften the seal throughout the show, discover in horror that I’ve invited the “Scorching Pockets!” jingle to remain in my head rent-free, then spin a dial to elevate the arm that separates the iPhone’s show from its physique.

Or, that’s the best way it’s presupposed to work, anyhow. The heating machine threw an error code partway by way of my first attempt, and Apple’s handbook didn’t make clear what to do if that happens after you’ve caught your phone inside. So I wound up heating it twice in a row. And however, that additionally wasn’t pretty enough for my show to “immediately” pop up when the suction cup arm began to lift the glass. The handbook did cowl that state of affairs, making me spin a second hidden knob to position additional stress on the suction cup, nevertheless I started freaking out after I observed what appeared like cracks spider all through the show. (It turned out it was merely suction cup residue.)

Proper right here’s the suction cup arm. Nonetheless by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

As quickly because the show was unfastened, I decrease by way of the softened glue holding it to the iPhone’s physique with Apple’s single tiny adhesive cutter, which moreover gave me considerably trouble. The blade acquired caught after I wedged it beneath the corners of the show, and I wanted to yank it out with out accidentally sending my phone clattering to the underside. The tools comes with a perfect-fit tray to hold your phone common and extra suction cups to hold the show with out stretching the fragile ribbon cables nevertheless nothing to hold the tray itself.

The handbook footage a technician holding the show with one hand whereas slicing adhesive with the other, nevertheless I moreover wanted to keep up the tray to keep up it from sliding spherical. Image: Apple

Apple moreover provides a set of fancy torque drivers to make sure you don’t screw down the phone’s tiny screws too tightly, nevertheless it’s a bit of little bit of a chore. I ought to have dropped Apple’s extraordinarily tiny fasteners a dozen situations whereas eradicating the slivers of metal that preserve the show’s ribbon cables in place, along with the underside speaker that Apple makes you yank to get on the battery. Presumably merely to make it more durable to revive, Apple requires three completely completely different screwdriver bits merely to remove the show, and none of Apple’s bits are magnetized to keep up the screws from slipping.

The torque driver has quite a lot of swappable bits, and likewise you’ll need a minimal of three. Image by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

At this stage, there was nonetheless a bunch of goopy adhesive throughout the edges of my iPhone’s physique. Whereas instructions advocate it’ll merely peel off in quite a lot of large objects in case you pull with tweezers (which didn’t come inside the area), I gave up after 10 minutes of choosing away at tiny fuzzy blobs of glue. I was merely going to be together with additional adhesive anyway, in any case. Later, I discovered this was not my most interesting idea.

When it lastly lay open on the desk, I couldn’t help nevertheless gawk in shock at my iPhone 13 Mini’s precisely packed guts, and I observed I was having pleasant! Slicing open my phone was a thrill. Nonetheless loads of that thrill obtained right here from not determining whether or not or not my phone would survive surgical process — Apple devices or no.

Nonetheless pictures don’t do it justice — considerably not mine. Image by Sean Hollister / The Verge

From there, it was time to swap out the battery. As quickly as I accomplished cursing on the far too easy to tear tabs that held inside the distinctive lithium pack, I used Apple’s fancy battery press with a rolling arm to seat — nevertheless not squish — the model new battery down. Nonetheless I could have carried out that with my fingertips; I’d have rather a lot reasonably had a instrument to accurately align the battery, which I wanted to yank and reposition after plopping it down a millimeter too far south, or a instrument to verify whether or not or not you’ve accurately reseated the battery and present connectors. Nonetheless I’ll get to that.

Subsequent, the instructions had me apply an actually helpful precut adhesive sheet designed to remain my show once more to the physique, which was easy to suit into exactly the becoming place and press down with my fingers. Then obtained right here an unlimited spring-loaded press (with a veritable slot machine of an arm) to close the phone as quickly as additional. Nonetheless even with the press, my show wasn’t fully flush with the physique afterwards, possibly due to the additional glue I didn’t deal with to remove.

Apple’s show press is a one-armed bandit. Image by Thomas Blythe / The Verge

With my phone closed up as soon as extra, I held down the ability button. Nothing. No vibrant white Apple model — no response the least bit. For one horrible second, I observed Apple gave me no technique to verify whether or not or not the battery and present connectors have been actually seated (they perhaps weren’t) and had me shut up the phone anyhow.

Then, a forlorn hope: maybe the substitute battery shipped empty? I scrambled throughout the office for a Lightning cable, and… my iPhone 13 Mini lastly lit up.

Sorry, Brian, you most likely did your most interesting. Image by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Nonetheless I wasn’t carried out however. The one most irritating part of this course of, after using Apple’s actual elements and Apple’s actual devices, was that my iPhone didn’t acknowledge the true battery as actual. “Unknown Half,” flashed a warning. Apparently, that’s the case for almost all of these elements: you’re anticipated to dial up Apple’s third-party logistics agency after the restore to permit them to validate the half for you. That’s a course of that features having a totally separate laptop computer and a Wi-Fi connection since you have to reboot your iPhone into diagnostics mode and gives the company distant administration. Which, in truth, defeats a bunch of the reasons you’d restore your particular person gadget at home!

And, if I’m telling you the fact, the second most irritating half didn’t occur in the midst of the restore each. If it have been merely me, I’d have aborted all of the course of sooner than Apple ever shipped 79 kilos of equipment to my home.

It could possibly be an understatement to say that Apple has a historic previous of resisting right-to-repair efforts. Sooner than the iPhone, altering a battery was normally so simple as inserting a thumbnail to pop off your phone’s once more cowl; afterwards, telephones largely turned troublesome to even open with out specialised devices, which arguably pushed prospects to modify their fully good devices after they might want solely wished a model new show or battery. Moreover see: batterygate.

So, it didn’t shock me when Apple’s press launch about this method warned “the overwhelming majority of customers” away from their very personal repairs, or after I wished to enter my phone’s IMEI to point out I owned my phone, or how I wanted to enter a six-digit code to point out I be taught the restore handbook, which not solely suggests you need three pages worth of devices however moreover a jar of sand in case your battery catches fire — one amongst many not strictly important objects that don’t embrace the tools. Apple moreover solely comprises instructions on use its private specific devices for repairs, so that you simply’re by your self in the event you want to attempt a additional low-key or low cost DIY technique.

Yeah, none of that shocked me. What shocked me was the worth tag.

$69 for a model new battery — the similar worth the Apple Retailer charges for a battery substitute, apart from proper right here I get to do the entire work and assume all of the hazard.

$49 to rent Apple’s devices for each week, higher than wiping out any refund I might get for returning the outdated used half.

A $1,200 financial institution card preserve for the toolkit, which I might forfeit if the devices weren’t returned inside seven days of provide.

Let’s be clear: it’s a ridiculous amount of hazard for the standard one who merely needs to position a model new battery of their phone. And it’s frankly weird for Apple to insist on you defending the full value of the devices. “It’s not like in the event you rent a automotive they make you place down $20,000 as a safety deposit,” my colleague Mitchell Clark components out.

I additionally must level out the Pelican situations landed at my door two days sooner than the battery arrived, so I solely had 5 days to do the job sooner than that $1,200 deadline.

My shopping for cart. Get a load of the optimistic print. Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

The additional I give it some thought, the additional I discover Apple’s Self-Service Restore program is the correct technique to make it seem like the company helps right-to-repair insurance coverage insurance policies with out actually encouraging them the least bit. Apple can say it’s giving clients entry to each half, even the similar devices its technicians use, whereas scaring them away with extreme prices, complexity, and the hazard of dropping a $1,200 deposit. This style, Apple will get credit score rating for strolling you via an 80-page restore, instead of developing telephones the place — say — you don’t have to remove the phone’s most delicate components and two numerous sorts of security screws merely to modify a battery.

Supply two 40-pound Pelicans can’t be low value

To me, these huge Pelican situations are the proof. It may worth Apple a fortune to ship 79 kilos of equipment to specific particular person properties in all places within the nation, even with firm reductions. The Verge is clearly far, far smaller than Apple, nevertheless it’d worth us upwards of $200 merely to return these situations to their sender. However Apple provides free supply every directions alongside along with your $49 rental, plus a faithful help workers to validate your elements and facilitate returns. (Though, apparently, it doesn’t do the latter wherever near its Silicon Valley HQ: after I took the help workers up on its provide of choosing up my battery, they suggested me they didn’t have a driver inside 250 miles of my location, and I ought to easily drop it off on the closest Residence Depot.)