Why should I care?
Tech products are among our most expensive household purchases, and their prices keep climbing. Not long ago, the price of a high-end smartphone was $650. Today, new phones start at $700 and $800; the average household would save $330 a year if it repaired products rather than replaced them, which adds up to $40 billion nationwide. By prolonging the , you would also put more use into the energy, metals, plastics, and human labor invested in creating the product.
Why don’t more people repair their tech?
There are several barriers to repairing consumer electronics that can make it intimidating. Basic repairs are not simple, like replacing a shattered screen or a depleted battery. Modern gadgets are so thin and tightly glued together that special tools are usually needed to open them. It’s also not straightforward to buy genuine parts — you can’t go to thewebsite to order a replacement screen or battery, for example.
Fixing essential components is also becoming increasingly impractical for unauthorized repair shops, especially with Apple phones. Independent fixers said many crucial parts inside newer iPhones, including cameras, batteries, and screens, require proprietary software tools to finish the job.
Going to the Apple and Microsoftand authorized repair shops is a simple option, but the costs there can be so high that you might be persuaded to buy a new device. When I took my wife’s iPhone to an Apple Store this , I was quoted $280 to replace a broken touch-screen, about 40 percent of the price of a brand-new iPhone. I turned to another route instead.
Independent fixers get access to tools, parts, and repair instructions when they engage withto become authorized service centers. But Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, which publishes free instruction manuals for people to restore their gadgets, said many independent fixers were turned off by the contractual terms to become authorized.
One requirement to be an authorized Apple repair center involves collecting detailed service records, including customer names, product serial numbers, and mailing addresses. This information must be provided toduring an audit to verify that repairs are done correctly. Even if a repair provider terminates its agreement with Apple, it must agree to continue to share this information with the company for two .
There is also the issue of price. Shakeel Taiyab, an independent fixer in South San Francisco, said he charged lower prices to customers because he obtained authentic parts from channels such as. (He charged me $180 to fix my wife’s iPhone screen, undercutting the by $100.) Mr. Taiyab said he would follow the rules if he became an authorized provider, resulting in customer prices — something he didn’t want to do.