Apple stores will soon be able to perform some iPhone 5S and 5C repairs in-house, according to a Nov. 7 report from 9to5Mac.
Citing people with knowledge of the upcoming initiative, the report states that Apple will soon begin equipping its stores with "special machinery" for replacing the touch-screens on the 5S and 5C and, specifically, for calibrating the displays.
"The screen replacements cost $149 for each device, and this price point is significantly more affordable than the several-hundred dollars required to completely replace a device with a damaged/cracked screen," the report adds.
It continues: "In addition to displays, Apple will have the capability to replace the volume buttons, vibrating motor, rear camera and speaker system on the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Apple Stores will be able to replace the conventional Home button on the iPhone 5C, but it does not appear that Apple will be able to conduct swaps for the Touch ID-based button on the iPhone 5S."
Phones under the AppleCare warranty, should they be defective, will receive part replacements without charge. For iPhones not under warranty, there will be fees for part replacements. "For example, a battery replacement will cost $79," the report said.
Repair site iFixit has for ages been calling on Apple to make its devices more repairable. It tore down the iPhone 5S Sept. 20 (it performed the teardown in Australia, to take advantage of the time difference) and gave it a "repairability" score of 6, down a point from the iPhone 5, mainly because it was filled with so much repair-hindering adhesive.
iFixit was able to lift away the display after removing Apple's proprietary pentalobe screws with a special screwdriver, some careful "spudgering" (mashing a thin, plastic stick into the crack) and pulling with a suction cup. But it quickly discovered a "booby trap" that Apple employees will also need to negotiate: a cable connecting the TouchID sensor in the home button to the Lighting port assembly.
If the 9to5Mac report is correct and battery replacement is also an option, the machines face quite a feat.
"Perhaps the 'S' in 5S stands for 'stuck,'" wrote iFixit in its teardown analysis, "as in, 'I hope you didn't want to replace your battery—you're going to be stuck with this one.'"
Finally dislodging the battery, it realized Apple had replaced the adhesive in the iPhone 5 with "two huge white runways of adhesive" in the 5S.
Still, iFixit is likely to applaud Apple's effort, whatever its motivation.
Writing about the site's more recent teardown of the Apple iPad Air, which earned just a repairability score of just 2 out of a possible 10, iFixit Chief Information Architect Miro Djuric wrote that fixing hard-to-repair devices is expensive or impossible. "It hurts the consumer, sucks for the environment and contributes to the device's untimely demise."
(Image courtesy of iFixit.)