While Apple may have made the iPhone 15 Pro Max easier to repair physically, a teardown from iFixit reveals it still comes with the same parts pairing constraints as its predecessors.
Like the iPhone 14, iFixit found that the iPhone 15 lineup has a redesigned midframe that you can access by removing the device’s screen or back glass. However, iFixit notes that the internals on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max live behind the screen, rather than the back glass, as is the case with the base iPhone 15 and 15 Plus as well as the iPhone 14 lineup.
This inverted setup could make “critical repairs like battery swaps slightly riskier than on the 14,” iFixit says, as you’re “removing the expensive, fragile display rather than an inert sheet of glass.” Since you have to apply heat when prying open the screen, there’s also a higher chance you could tear a cable that links the display to the device itself.
“Without the ability to swap components, repairability suffers dramatically”
In addition to the new setup, iFixit confirms that the iPhone 15 Pro comes with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X70 5G modem, which uses AI to provide “unmatched data speeds, coverage, and latency.” One speed testing site, SpeedSmart, already found that the iPhone 15 Pro’s 5G modem boosts 5G download speeds by up to 24 percent when compared to the iPhone 14 Pro. iFixit’s teardown also revealed a bigger 4,422mAh battery.
Despite the transition to a more repairable design, Apple is still making it difficult to swap out the parts on the iPhone Pro Max. The company’s pairing requirement means DIYers and independent repair shops can only use new parts purchased directly from Apple to perform repairs or else lose functionality. Not only that but Apple also requires that you verify your repairs by contacting technical support — something my colleague Sean Hollister experienced firsthand when changing out the battery on the iPhone 13 Mini.
iFixit lays out what happens when it takes genuine parts from one iPhone 15 Pro Max and puts them in another. When it tried transferring the lidar sensor between the two devices, it found that the “camera app initially loaded and then crashed,” adding that iFixit’s team could “repeatedly reproduce this behavior.” The same goes for some of the iPhone 15 Pro’s other components, which it lays out in a chart included in its blog post.
“Unfortunately, software is the anchor around an otherwise exceptionally designed phone,” iFixit notes. “But without the ability to swap components, repairability suffers dramatically.”
iFixit retroactively dinged the iPhone 14’s repairability score for Apple’s parts pairing requirement last week, lowering its rating from a seven out of 10 to a four. The company also gave the iPhone 15 Pro Max a “provisional” four out of 10, stating that it’s “awarding some credit for anticipated service manual availability and selling repair parts.” Apple expanded its Self Service Repair program to include the iPhone 14 in June and is expected to do the same for the iPhone 15 lineup at some point in the future.