iFixit is dropping the repairability score on the iPhone 14. While the organization originally gave the phone a seven out of 10 to indicate high repairability, iFixit has lowered that rating to a four after taking into account parts pairing requirements that make fixing the device a hassle.
When iFixit announced its score for the iPhone 14 last year, it said it was looking mainly at the repair-friendly design of the device. Unlike its other devices, Apple included a rear glass panel that you can pop off with basic repair tools, including a heating mat, suction handle, and an opening pick. While this design change was notable at the time, iFixit acknowledges that it missed the significant hurdles to repairability programmed within iPhones in general.
Instead of simply swapping out one part for another, repair shops and DIYers must “pair” the part to the device through Apple’s System Configuration tool — something my colleague Sean Hollister had to deal with when replacing the battery on the iPhone 13 Mini.
To do this, you must purchase a genuine part from Apple, enter your device’s serial number, and then pair the new part to the phone by contacting Apple. If you use an aftermarket part or one from another iPhone, you’re stuck with annoying notifications that warn your iPhone contains ingenuine parts — even if it works the way it should.
“Most major repairs on modern iPhones require Apple approval,” iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens writes in a blog post. “You have to buy parts through their system, then have the repair validated via a chat system. Otherwise, you’ll run into limited or missing functionality, with a side of annoying warnings.”
The pairing process not only makes repairs difficult for DIYers but also for third-party repair providers who often use leftover parts from broken devices. iFixit says things have “gotten so bad that several repair professionals have told us they’re leaving the business entirely rather than navigate the labyrinthine maze of obstacles that Apple has erected.”
Although the iPhone 15 retains the same repair-friendly backing as its predecessor, it likely shares the same parts-pairing requirement as other devices in the iPhone lineup. Until Apple starts letting users swap in aftermarket or used parts without issue, the iPhone’s repairability score will likely remain at the low end of the spectrum.
Update September 19th, 3:32PM ET: Added more context about parts pairing.