Apple has new iPhones, now it needs new business practices
Apple recently released its newest line of iPhones, the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Max. The new phones come with some updates to the camera, supposedly better battery life and a range of other new features. This sounds like the same old thing Apple rolls out every September, but this year the company will hopefully also make some changes to the way it does business.
Apple needs to address something that’s been a hot topic for some time now: why it’s so hard for consumers to repair their own devices.
Many of us know all too well how aggravating it is to need a hardware repair. We’ve all been there: you drop your phone and the screen cracks, or the battery simply won’t last for more than a few hours.
Battery replacements can be done by an Apple employee at the Genius Bar for free if it’s still within warranty or covered by AppleCare+. If not, it costs $69 for newer iPhones, like the iPhone X and iPhone 11, and $49 for older models.
If you want to repair it yourself or through a third party, you’ll run into a problem. Even if the new, third-party battery works fine, you’ll get a service alert and won’t be able to tell your battery health in your settings.
This is by design. Apple programs its products so when the repair is done by someone outside the company, you hit a road block.
Apple is doing everything it can to make sure that when your device needs a repair, you take it to its stores or one of its trusted third-party service providers. The company does this so it can set the price points for repairs and leave consumers with no other option but to go through Apple.
Those at Apple have another motive for making it hard for consumers to repair their devices on their own: to encourage people to buy their insurance, AppleCare+.
AppleCare+ for the iPhone X and newer phones costs $199. If you decide not to buy AppleCare+ and then later go on to break your screen on your iPhone X or newer, you’ll be shelling out anywhere between $199 and $329, depending on the phone.
The price points that Apple sells its products and services at is obviously its business. It seems consumers will still purchase the devices no matter the price. However, it’s simply not okay to tell customers they must go through Apple to repair a broken device.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard about Apple using shady business tactics. In 2017, Apple was taken to the Federal Court of Australia by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after devices that had been repaired by a third party were completely wiped following the iOS 9 update.
Also in 2017, Apple admitted the new iOS software slowed down the performance of older phones. It claimed that doing so was to solve problems stemming from older iPhone’s lithium batteries, but the whole thing made a lot of customers reasonably angry. If Apple is purposefully slowing down older phones, what else is it capable of doing to our devices?
With new phones being released almost yearly, it’s hard to want to hold on to an older device, especially when software updates promise slower devices and repairs mean having to spend more money on a phone that’s already faulty.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren recently came out to support a right-to-repair law for farming equipment. Hopefully this will be followed by support for a right-to-repair law for personal tech devices.
Furthermore, tech companies like Apple also need to address the environmental issue of electronic waste. Electronic waste only accounts for 2 percent of what gets put into landfills, but it makes up 70 percent of toxic waste there. When electronics break down, they release the metal and chemicals inside them, which can leak into nearby groundwater. Apple and other companies that sell these electronics need to acknowledge this problem and make efforts to combat it.
Apple doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, but it has too much power over consumers and their property. Someone needs to regulate these companies that are becoming more and more intertwined with consumers’ private lives.
Rachel Reynolds is a liberal studies junior and can be reached at [email protected]