New Frame Design of iPhone 15 Pro Makes Repairs Easier, but Receives Poor Repairability Score
According to a teardown analysis by iFixit, a parts vendor and gadget-repair advocate, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max feature a new frame design that could simplify the repair process for their screens and battery swaps. The main parts of the phone are attached to an aluminum frame, which is bonded to the titanium casing that users touch on the outside. This design allows repairers easier access to the battery and screen, which are the most common smartphone fixes.
However, despite the improved repairability, iFixit gave the new iPhones a poor repairability score of 4 out of 10. This is primarily due to Apple’s use of software that locks parts to specific devices, making independent repairs more challenging or even impossible. Many iPhone components, such as the Face ID sensor, Lidar camera, and wireless charging coil, cannot be replaced without using an official Apple configuration tool to authenticate them.
Apple acknowledged the design change and reduced the price for swapping a cracked back glass plate on the new models to $149 or $169, compared to $499 or $549 on the previous Pro models. Screen repairs remain the same price, ranging from $329 to $379 depending on the display size. The iPhone 14, the mainstream model from last year, also had a design featuring a removable back glass.
In addition to the repairability analysis, iFixit’s teardown revealed that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are equipped with a Qualcomm X70 modem for cellular connectivity. This follows Qualcomm’s announcement that it will supply Apple with modem chips through 2026.
The right-to-repair movement, which advocates for the availability of repair tools, guides, and authorized parts, is closely associated with the environmental movement. Repairing gadgets and extending their lifespans helps reduce e-waste and keeps devices out of landfills. Apple has supported the right-to-repair bill in California, which passed in September, and introduced Self Service Repair in 2022 to allow repair shops and end users to rent professional-level repair tools and purchase replacement parts directly from Apple.
Apple’s emphasis on environmental work was evident in its recent product announcements, including marketing the Apple Watch Series 9 models as carbon neutral. However, iFixit’s findings regarding limited repairability and the impact on independent repair enterprises raise concerns about the overall issue of e-waste.