New photo of Apple's iPhone repair and calibration machine surfaces online

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2017
An image of the special machine Apple uses to conduct back-of-store iPhone repairs surfaced online on Tuesday, with the photo showing off a few more features than previous leaks including an up-close look at screen calibration controls.

Apple's iPhone calibration machine. Click for larger.
Source: Motherboard


The picture was sent in to Motherboard after reporter Jason Koebler put a bounty out for information regarding Apple's "iPhone Calibration Machine," a specialized piece of equipment used by Geniuses and tech personnel to conduct device repairs.

AppleInsider can confirm the photo is legitimate and does depict an authorized iPhone screen repair machine, albeit an older version. Newer models are more self-contained and feature an industrial style casing to protect sensitive calibration equipment. Apple has an unknown number of variants in play at its brick-and-mortar stores, and while each machine performs the same or similar duties, their aesthetic appearance is widely varied.

The first photos of Apple's machine leaked out in 2013, shortly after the company began offering on-site iPhone 5 screen replacement services.

A former Genius told Motherboard how the machine works.

"It was a big clunky machine that honestly looked like someone built it in their backyard," the person said. "There were different 'moulds' that different iPhone models would go into before going in the machine, and it would take around 30 minutes ... there was some weird liquid that needed to be placed in the machine that we would have to wear gloves with to fix it. Lots of gas type valves and whatnot. It literally looked like some backyard home job. Not very Apple-like at all."

The square, circle, star and triangle chevrons to the left of the iPhone are used to calibrate the handset's camera, while the "gray card" and "flock paper" controls are for screen calibrations.

In addition to screen swaps and device calibration, the machine also allows technicians to replace iPhone's Touch ID home button. When connected to a Mac, the repair apparatus is able to validate a newly installed fingerprint sensor with an internal Apple server.

Third-party repair shops lack access to the special machine and are therefore unable to conduct certain screen repairs and Touch ID swaps. The latter limitation, instituted as a security measure, drew the ire of consumers and repair professionals last year.

In early 2015, a number of iPhone users reported so-called "Error 53" codes that would render their hardware unusable. Last year, it was learned that Error 53 messages are actually an iOS security measure triggered when an iPhone undergoes unauthorized Touch ID repairs. Customers later filed a class action lawsuit over the matter, but the case was quickly tossed for lack of standing.

Along with the security safeguards it provides, Apple's machine also ensures a consistent repair experience across its many stores. The process is under fire, however, as so-called "right to repair" bills threaten to force the company to make manuals, parts and presumably the specialized iPhone machine to consumers and third-party repair shops. Apple has lobbied against such state measures in the past and just last week sent a representative to argue its case in Nebraska.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,178member
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?
    randominternetpersonrepressthisawilliams87radarthekatRayz2016watto_cobramike1damn_its_hot
  • Reply 2 of 26
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    thinkman@chartermi.netandrewj5790repressthislenawatto_cobradamn_its_hotSpamSandwich
  • Reply 3 of 26
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?
    That's a logical next step. Right to repair is an incredibly wrongheaded solution to a problem for what amounts to a statistical blip of the population of phone owners.
    baconstangawilliams87watto_cobraStrangeDaysdamn_its_hot
  • Reply 4 of 26
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 1,691member
    This is one of the Apple superior technologies competitors try to steal with the help of the reporter paying a bounty.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?

    No. I'll use a BMW as an example. If you need to replace a key you need to provide proof of vehicle ownership and they'll make one for you. You can't purchase the required equipment to take a blank key and program it to a specific vehicle. Further, if you need a CAS module (car access system which reads and authorizes keys) it also needs to be specially ordered.

    Now think of the machine Apple uses (along with special software) to match a Touch ID sensor to an iPhone. This would be similar to what BMW uses to program and code keys or the CAS module to your vehicle. It's a security related item and wouldn't fall under Right to Repair or Magnusson Moss. 
    repressthisbaconstangradarthekatleavingthebiggwiggindamn_its_hot
  • Reply 6 of 26
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?

    No. I'll use a BMW as an example. If you need to replace a key you need to provide proof of vehicle ownership and they'll make one for you. You can't purchase the required equipment to take a blank key and program it to a specific vehicle. Further, if you need a CAS module (car access system which reads and authorizes keys) it also needs to be specially ordered.

    Now think of the machine Apple uses (along with special software) to match a Touch ID sensor to an iPhone. This would be similar to what BMW uses to program and code keys or the CAS module to your vehicle. It's a security related item and wouldn't fall under Right to Repair or Magnusson Moss. 
    How do you know?  What's stopping a state from mandating that BMW and Apple provide access to these machines to third parties?  There are lots of good reasons why they should draw that line, but plenty of laws mandate stupid things.

    Or are you just saying that if you were writing such legislation you would exempt security-related things?
    repressthisawilliams87
  • Reply 7 of 26
    jdwjdw Posts: 619member
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly given leniency.  

    Why?  Apple founder Steve Jobs once said this, "it's better to be a pirate than join the navy."  Remember the pirate flag flown proudly at Apple HQ?  Remember the illegal blue boxes he and Woz made and SOLD?  Now consider that Mr. Jobs is very much at the heart of every Apple product you and I use.  Even though he passed away back in 2011 his heart lives on at Apple.  Most of us brush off the past of Steve Jobs by saying, "that was a long time ago and a different era."  But that is "leniency"!  :-)

    While I am not a proponent of "anything goes" and while rules do need to be enforced to some degree (meaning, enforcement coupled with mercy), I also feel that the same level of severity we so easily cast at others will eventually come back our way.  Better to be easy on others so when our day comes someone in charge will be easy on us.  Let us therefore promote freedom over legalism where possible.

    With that said, I would prefer to see a photo of the newest machine, rather than this older model machine.  In any case, this thing is far too sophisticated for anyone to build "in their back yard."
  • Reply 8 of 26
    roakeroake Posts: 563member
    All I know is I enjoyed the text on that iPhone screen, "This cable or accessory is not certified and may not work correctly with this iPhone."
    sully54eriamjhrandominternetpersonstudiomusic
  • Reply 9 of 26
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,471moderator
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?

    No. I'll use a BMW as an example. If you need to replace a key you need to provide proof of vehicle ownership and they'll make one for you. You can't purchase the required equipment to take a blank key and program it to a specific vehicle. Further, if you need a CAS module (car access system which reads and authorizes keys) it also needs to be specially ordered.

    Now think of the machine Apple uses (along with special software) to match a Touch ID sensor to an iPhone. This would be similar to what BMW uses to program and code keys or the CAS module to your vehicle. It's a security related item and wouldn't fall under Right to Repair or Magnusson Moss. 
    How do you know?  What's stopping a state from mandating that BMW and Apple provide access to these machines to third parties?  There are lots of good reasons why they should draw that line, but plenty of laws mandate stupid things.

    Or are you just saying that if you were writing such legislation you would exempt security-related things?
    I would think the government would not easily require a business to provide to the market its proprietary technology.  Should you be able to make extra keys to your safety deposit box? To the best of my knowledge, you'd have to go through the bank in the circumstance where you damaged your safety deposit box key (such that it no longer worked to open your box).  Even at my condo development in Florida I was required to use a specific locksmith (one of two the development worked with) to get my door locks changed and keys made.  This to ensure that the master keys used by security to let in the exterminators for spraying every threee months would work in every condo unit.  I agreed to this condition when I purchased the condo under the existing and ratified condo rules.  You don't like the rule, don't move there.  Don't buy an iPhone if you don't like your repair options. 
    edited March 2017 awilliams87tommikele
  • Reply 10 of 26
    sully54sully54 Posts: 73member
    jdw said:
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly given leniency.  

    Why?  Apple founder Steve Jobs once said this, "it's better to be a pirate than join the navy."  Remember the pirate flag flown proudly at Apple HQ?  Remember the illegal blue boxes he and Woz made and SOLD?  Now consider that Mr. Jobs is very much at the heart of every Apple product you and I use.  Even though he passed away back in 2011 his heart lives on at Apple.  Most of us brush off the past of Steve Jobs by saying, "that was a long time ago and a different era."  But that is "leniency"!  :-)

    While I am not a proponent of "anything goes" and while rules do need to be enforced to some degree (meaning, enforcement coupled with mercy), I also feel that the same level of severity we so easily cast at others will eventually come back our way.  Better to be easy on others so when our day comes someone in charge will be easy on us.  Let us therefore promote freedom over legalism where possible.

    With that said, I would prefer to see a photo of the newest machine, rather than this older model machine.  In any case, this thing is far too sophisticated for anyone to build "in their back yard."
    While I agree with the spirit of your reasoning, I'd have to disagree with it in this specific case. Apple's policies not only protects their intellectual assets, they also protect customer data, especially in this case, where the machine is located in a retail store and a customer's information is so readily available. 
  • Reply 11 of 26
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 3,934member
    jdw said:
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly given leniency.  

    Why?  Apple founder Steve Jobs once said this, "it's better to be a pirate than join the navy."  Remember the pirate flag flown proudly at Apple HQ?  Remember the illegal blue boxes he and Woz made and SOLD?  Now consider that Mr. Jobs is very much at the heart of every Apple product you and I use.  Even though he passed away back in 2011 his heart lives on at Apple.  Most of us brush off the past of Steve Jobs by saying, "that was a long time ago and a different era."  But that is "leniency"!  :-)

    While I am not a proponent of "anything goes" and while rules do need to be enforced to some degree (meaning, enforcement coupled with mercy), I also feel that the same level of severity we so easily cast at others will eventually come back our way.  Better to be easy on others so when our day comes someone in charge will be easy on us.  Let us therefore promote freedom over legalism where possible.

    With that said, I would prefer to see a photo of the newest machine, rather than this older model machine.  In any case, this thing is far too sophisticated for anyone to build "in their back yard."
    This is the same Steve Jobs who launched the most expensive and drawn-out legal battle in recent history when someone stole from him?

    If I stole secrets from the company I worked for and sold them for profit then I would expect to be fired. I hope this chap is caught and dismissed before he starts stealing other stuff. 

    People seem to think that quoting Steve Jobs is a replacement for critical thinking. 
    edited March 2017 radarthekatwatto_cobrasully54
  • Reply 12 of 26
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,466member
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?
    As for the machine, that would be Apple's decision.

    It has nothing to do with the right to repair per se. The machine just automates the process.

    Whatever you use, the hardware needs to be sanctioned by an Apple server.

    If the passcode and the fingerprint print scan were safely stored on the internals of the phone you could easily design for repairs and authenticate by any number of ways.

    I can open a bank account with just a selfie. Authentification nowadays offers quite a bit of flexibility.
  • Reply 13 of 26
    jdwjdw Posts: 619member
    sully54 said:
    While I agree with the spirit of your reasoning, I'd have to disagree with it in this specific case. Apple's policies not only protects their intellectual assets, they also protect customer data, especially in this case, where the machine is located in a retail store and a customer's information is so readily available. 
    Rayz2016 said:
    If I stole secrets from the company I worked for and sold them for profit then I would expect to be fired. I hope this chap is caught and dismissed before he starts stealing other stuff. 
    Gentlemen, please bear in mind my previous post called for "leniency/mercy" as opposed to "harsh punishment."  I was not calling for "let the fellow off scot-free."  There is a significant difference between applying mercy and granting a complete pardon.

    The motivation behind my post stemmed from observation of human nature.  Human beings are inclined to cast the first stone in strict accordance to "the law."  We are quick to rail on others, especially on internet forums where we cannot meet face-to-face.  Therefore, applying a tone of merciful kindness would be something unnaturally good for us to ponder.

    And...

    I still want to see a photo of "newer models" that "are more self-contained and feature an industrial style casing to protect sensitive calibration equipment."  :) 
  • Reply 14 of 26
    It seems to me that only Apple can validate TouchID as a good security measure for both Apple and consumers. I don't know if Apple should allow certified third-parties to be able to do that. It's true Apple may be trying to be a monopoly but I don't know enough about the liabilities if TouchID security were to be breached. I don't have a problem taking my device back to Apple because in NYC I have at least five Apple stores I can easily go to. Maybe if a person lived a hundred miles away from the nearest Apple store it could be a problem. Apple is just being Apple and I've pretty much gotten used to that fact. If I didn't like the companies policies I would simply buy my devices from another manufacturer instead of getting angry about how Apple operates. I can't believe Apple is the only company who has such tight security measures. I would figure any number of other companies would be the same way.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,463member
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    Probably already had a job lined up at Google / Samsung.
  • Reply 16 of 26
    Swami BaloneySwami Baloney Posts: 16unconfirmed, member
    Right to Repair is a fallacy.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    Right to Repair is a fallacy.
    Like most political catch phrases, it misleads more than it informs.  We already have a "right to repair" our own stuff (within certain limits).  This is more about "the right to be able to operate a business to repair other people stuff with some level of support by the manufacturer."  More accurate, less catchy, and less politically motivating.
    mike1Mikeymikedamn_its_hot
  • Reply 18 of 26
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,258member
    Right to Repair is a fallacy.
    Like most political catch phrases, it misleads more than it informs.  We already have a "right to repair" our own stuff (within certain limits).  This is more about "the right to be able to operate a business to repair other people stuff with some level of support by the manufacturer."  More accurate, less catchy, and less politically motivating.

    While I haven’t read any of the proposed laws, only what’s been offered in AI stories, I assume the Right to Repair laws are also written to allow you to get your device repaired without invalidating the entire warranty? If I get new tires on my car at an independent shop, it doesn’t invalidate the drivetrain warranty. I’m not sure what Apple’s stance on this would be, say I get a third-party screen repair and later have the Lightning port go bad; but remember these proposed laws aren’t targeted at Apple. They cover entire industries, and I see no reason why Apple should be excluded just because we like them. Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking favorites (yes, it certainly happens…but that path leads to corruption).

    It’s not as if a bunch of fly-by-night, back alley repair shops are going to spring up overnight if these laws pass. Yes, there might be a little chaos at first, but just like in the auto industry, repair shops that do a good job and earn a good reputation will succeed and those that don’t will go out of business. The auto manufacturers made all these same arguments against similar laws when they were first proposed, and I don't recall a sudden rash of car crashes after they were passed.

    It would make sense to have reasonable limits, such as items that involve security; but I shouldn’t have to ship my laptop or phone to Apple to get the battery replaced. To those who argue about Apple’s reputation would be tarnished in the event a bad battery causes a fire…isn’t that all the more reason Apple should make OEM batteries available to repair shops rather than have them use cheap knock-offs?

  • Reply 19 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 5,099member
    jdw said:
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly punished. 
    Hopefully the employee who violated an NDA to sell these is swiftly given leniency.  

    Why?  Apple founder Steve Jobs once said this, "it's better to be a pirate than join the navy."  Remember the pirate flag flown proudly at Apple HQ?  Remember the illegal blue boxes he and Woz made and SOLD?  Now consider that Mr. Jobs is very much at the heart of every Apple product you and I use.  Even though he passed away back in 2011 his heart lives on at Apple.  Most of us brush off the past of Steve Jobs by saying, "that was a long time ago and a different era."  But that is "leniency"!  :-)

    While I am not a proponent of "anything goes" and while rules do need to be enforced to some degree (meaning, enforcement coupled with mercy), I also feel that the same level of severity we so easily cast at others will eventually come back our way.  Better to be easy on others so when our day comes someone in charge will be easy on us.  Let us therefore promote freedom over legalism where possible.

    With that said, I would prefer to see a photo of the newest machine, rather than this older model machine.  In any case, this thing is far too sophisticated for anyone to build "in their back yard."
    Jobs was against software piracy, so you really can't extrapolate much from the techniques he used to motivate the original ragtag mac team. 
  • Reply 20 of 26
    tommikeletommikele Posts: 239member
    lkrupp said:
    Question for the ‘right to repair’ supporters? Should Apple be forced to sell these machines, or lease them, to third party repair shops? Should the price or leases of these machines be regulated by the government so as to promote ‘fairness’?
    Absolutely not. It's a proprietary device. If you want to allow third parties to repair let those third parties develop there own tools. I know you just asked a question so not jumping on you, but I find the notion Apple could be required to sell proprietary tools to third parties absurd. All kinds of industries have proprietary tools/machines, etc. for products others work on and those people get there own tools in the after market or create them themselves.
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