Apple's Self Service Repair unlikely to impact iPhone upgrade cycle, study finds

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2021
A study published on Thursday takes a closer look at the impact Apple's new Self Service Repair might have on iPhone's average lifecycle.


Opening an iPhone SE (Source: iFixit)
Opening an iPhone SE (Source: iFixit)

Apple this week announced the Self Service Repair program, an initiative that will allow customers access to parts and tools to perform common iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 repairs like display, battery and camera replacements. The company plans to expand support to M1 Macs at a later date.

It was a surprising about-face for the tech giant, which for years has railed against the right-to-repair movement citing consumer safety and security risks.

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners delved into the implications of Apple's repair policy reversal, with a focus on how access to parts might impact sales of new iPhones. Specifically, the study takes a look at aggregate screen and battery conditions as predictors of demand for Self Service Repair, which in turn offers an indication of potential upgrade cycle disruptions.

Pulling from a survey of 2,000 U.S. Apple customers who purchased an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple Watch during the 12-month period ending in September, the research firm concludes that only a "small fraction" of users will use Self Service Repair to postpone a new iPhone purchase.

CIRP


"Based on what consumers say about the condition of the old iPhones they are retiring, it seems that relatively few owners would use the Self Service Repair program to postpone their next iPhone purchase," said Josh Lowitz, CIRP Partner and Co-Founder. "Clearly, Apple's ongoing efforts to improve display durability and battery quality have paid off, even though consumers continue to complain, especially about battery life. Based on what consumers say about the condition of their old iPhones, most new iPhone buyers have more than adequately useable phones."

Some 6% of respondents said their iPhone screen was cracked and unusable, a condition that would necessitate replacement or repair, while 12% reported a cracked but usable display. Battery life was a more pressing issue, with 14% of owners surveyed saying their battery was depleted to the point where they needed to charge every couple of hours.

Aside from relatively long-lasting hardware, CIRP points out that iPhone owners have a number of reasons to upgrade from current hardware. Each successive iPhone iteration brings processor and camera improvements, while recent updates like iPhone 13 have increased internal storage capacities to a maximum of 1TB with iPhone 13 Pro.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,856member
    I remember this with Macs and other computers. There was a lot of talk about upgradability, A lot of people here and on other sites saying how critical it was to be able to add RAM, or replace drives, and such. But the fact was they were the minority. Most people would buy a computer, use it until it didn't do what they wanted any more, and then replace it. I suspect most people upgrade their phone, not because they have to, but because they want to. They don't want to repair their phones any more than they want to repair their car, or their furnace, or put new shingles on their roof. 
    baconstanglkruppwilliamlondonmaximaradewmeDetnator
  • Reply 2 of 20
    Agree with @DAlseth. This will delight a very small number of dedicated DIY folks, but won't make any significant real-world difference for the same reason that having wrenches and pipes at Home Depot doesn't threaten plumbers.

    I'm an engineer and I absolutely don't want to fix my own phone, car, dishwasher or laptop, etc. That doesn't sound like fun, and the time alone negates any value.
    chaickalkruppbaconstangDAalsethwilliamlondondewmeDnykjpRfC6fnBs
  • Reply 3 of 20
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    What kind of study could they have done in a day? I took longer to write a HS research paper and that was mostly regurgitating other people's research (with citations, of course).
    darkvader
  • Reply 4 of 20
    I'm on my 5th iPhone.  I started with a 4s and now have a 12 mini.
    I have never needed to repair or replace anything on any of them.
    So, I'm pretty indifferent about the repair thing on iPhones.
    I have, however, added RAM to to my iMacs. 
    The money I saved buying the minimum amount of RAM and upgrading later, allowed me to max the CPU and GPU.
    edited November 2021 MplsP
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Agree with @DAlseth. This will delight a very small number of dedicated DIY folks, but won't make any significant real-world difference for the same reason that having wrenches and pipes at Home Depot doesn't threaten plumbers.

    I'm an engineer and I absolutely don't want to fix my own phone, car, dishwasher or laptop, etc. That doesn't sound like fun, and the time alone negates any value.
    Agrees. In >2 decades of using MacBook+iMac to iPhones+iPads, I have not find the need to even upgrade the specs I purchased for those models in last decade. In fact, I have been trimming the specs of MacBooks and iMacs purchased in recent years after finding the higher specs (more RAM and SSD capacity) served no meaningful needs at all.

    I am an engineer myself and used to repair laptops/desktops >2 decades ago as my job back then. Nowadays, I no longer find the needs to do so meaningfully. Devices lasted as long as its intended lifecycles (3 years for iPhones, 5 years for iPads, 5-7 years for MacBook & iMac subjected to new work requirements or use cases).
    maximara
  • Reply 6 of 20
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    I agree fully with the article and @DAalseth. Apple threw the vocal minority a small bone to chew on. This will not affect the upgrade cycle one bit. And the post before mine is hilarious in thinking Apple will start selling parts for 5 and 6 year old devices.

    By the way, can users buy OEM parts from Samsung, HTC, Google, etc.?
    edited November 2021 williamlondongenovelle
  • Reply 7 of 20
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member
    I think their implementation solves their biggest concerns. 3rd parties doing crappy repairs with fake parts. It also keeps companies that would not qualify for certification from gaining access to parts and possibly selling them on the black market. Now everyone of these that goes out is linked to a real customer for a specific device. 
  • Reply 8 of 20
    lkrupp said:
    And the post before mine is hilarious in thinking Apple will start selling parts for 5 and 6 year old devices.

    Why is that hilarious to you? There are lot of poorer nations where a five and six-year-old device is what they can afford, especially in Africa and South Asia. You take the used iPhones in North America, Europe, South Korea, and Japan and you refurbish them and then sell them in Africa and South Asia.
    baconstangMplsPdarkvader
  • Reply 9 of 20
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    Blizzard said:
    lkrupp said:
    And the post before mine is hilarious in thinking Apple will start selling parts for 5 and 6 year old devices.
    Why is that hilarious to you? There are lot of poorer nations where a five and six-year-old device is what they can afford, especially in Africa and South Asia. You take the used iPhones in North America, Europe, South Korea, and Japan and you refurbish them and then sell them in Africa and South Asia.
    And Apple sells older gen iPhones as new devices at discounted prices. And on top of that, Apple is the only company that still supports their devices in HW and SW many years after they've been on the market when other vendors just push you to trash it and buy a new one.
    MplsP
  • Reply 10 of 20
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member
    I'm on my 5th iPhone.  I started with a 4s and now have a 12 mini.
    I have never needed to repair or replace anything on any of them.
    So, I'm pretty indifferent about the repair thing on iPhones.
    I have, however, added RAM to to my iMacs. 
    The money I saved buying the minimum amount of RAM and upgrading later, allowed me to max the CPU and GPU.
    I bought a 2020 iMac. 10-core i9 w/8TB SSD.  Had it upgraded to 128GB of OWC RAM by the reseller before I ever took possession of it and therein started my 3-month journey from hell.  iMac could not be used more than 10 minutes of decent video encoding before crashing to the point it was almost unusable.  It was past the 2-week return window. 

    After three months, multiple visits with iMac to Genius Bar (they found nothing wrong), the problem was the 128GB RAM sticks.  They passed memory checks, but when I installed 128GB of Micron RAM (via Crucial), machine worked perfectly from that point forward.  Thankfully, the reseller accepted return of the bad memory.  Many others on Apple's support forums experienced the exact same problem with OWC RAM.

    That was three months of pure stress and anguish with such an expensive machine.  

    After that experience, I can understand now why the memory can't be upgraded on the new Macs.  OWC left a really bad taste in my mouth and even though I'm sure Apple will charge a premium on ASi's with extra RAM, I would not ever want to go through those three months again.  Those memory suppliers can't get their acts together.

    maximara
  • Reply 11 of 20
    sflocal said:
    I'm on my 5th iPhone.  I started with a 4s and now have a 12 mini.
    I have never needed to repair or replace anything on any of them.
    So, I'm pretty indifferent about the repair thing on iPhones.
    I have, however, added RAM to to my iMacs. 
    The money I saved buying the minimum amount of RAM and upgrading later, allowed me to max the CPU and GPU.
    I bought a 2020 iMac. 10-core i9 w/8TB SSD.  Had it upgraded to 128GB of OWC RAM by the reseller before I ever took possession of it and therein started my 3-month journey from hell.  iMac could not be used more than 10 minutes of decent video encoding before crashing to the point it was almost unusable.  It was past the 2-week return window. 

    After three months, multiple visits with iMac to Genius Bar (they found nothing wrong), the problem was the 128GB RAM sticks.  They passed memory checks, but when I installed 128GB of Micron RAM (via Crucial), machine worked perfectly from that point forward.  Thankfully, the reseller accepted return of the bad memory.  Many others on Apple's support forums experienced the exact same problem with OWC RAM.

    That was three months of pure stress and anguish with such an expensive machine.  

    After that experience, I can understand now why the memory can't be upgraded on the new Macs.  OWC left a really bad taste in my mouth and even though I'm sure Apple will charge a premium on ASi's with extra RAM, I would not ever want to go through those three months again.  Those memory suppliers can't get their acts together.

    Sorry to hear of your experience.  However, YMMV.

    I've installed OWC memory in 2 iMacs and a Macbook.  Never had a problem.  Generally I run Geekbench on devices before and after hardware or OS installations and nothing has ever been amiss.
    darkvader
  • Reply 12 of 20
    For a company that solders SSD’s to the motherboard and creates SoC’s where all components are combined and integrated, this move is just for optics and defuse any legal complaints.
    I guess AppleInsider fans are having a field day.
    darkvader
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Xed said:
    Blizzard said:
    lkrupp said:
    And the post before mine is hilarious in thinking Apple will start selling parts for 5 and 6 year old devices.
    Why is that hilarious to you? There are lot of poorer nations where a five and six-year-old device is what they can afford, especially in Africa and South Asia. You take the used iPhones in North America, Europe, South Korea, and Japan and you refurbish them and then sell them in Africa and South Asia.
    And Apple sells older gen iPhones as new devices at discounted prices. And on top of that, Apple is the only company that still supports their devices in HW and SW many years after they've been on the market when other vendors just push you to trash it and buy a new one.
    It doesn’t matter. I can also buy any older Gen brand phone on pretty much dozens of online retailers for huge discounted prices. 
    The net result to the consumer is the same.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Agree with @DAlseth. This will delight a very small number of dedicated DIY folks, but won't make any significant real-world difference for the same reason that having wrenches and pipes at Home Depot doesn't threaten plumbers.

    I'm an engineer and I absolutely don't want to fix my own phone, car, dishwasher or laptop, etc. That doesn't sound like fun, and the time alone negates any value.
    Agree with you and  DAalseth I have need or desire to repair my iPhone or MBP. Now I have an old 2006 17”MBP that I’ll tinker around with from time to time still. We all upgraded to iPhone 13 Pro Max. It will be my last iPhone (terminal cancer) and my wife and daughter will get new ones every 3 years maybe 4 years. They don’t want to open an iPhone maybe screw it up worse and still have to have Apple fix it anyway at a higher cost because of making things worse. 
  • Reply 15 of 20
    I've always fixed my computers and iPhones for friends/family. It's not rocked science, but I stopped repairing iPhones a few years ago, because they made it so hard to get good parts. I do believe the study is accurate, but maybe the data it's a bit off, because I doubt I'm the only one with this view.
    And no, you're actually not allowed to buy/use Apple Care where I live and authorized resellers have ridiculous repair prices.
    edited November 2021
  • Reply 16 of 20
    Xed said:
    And Apple sells older gen iPhones as new devices at discounted prices.

    Not as cheap as the used iPhones that are refurbished.
    Xed said:
    And on top of that, Apple is the only company that still supports their devices in HW and SW many years after they've been on the market when other vendors just push you to trash it and buy a new one.

    Gee.....it's almost like you are proving my point here and not realizing it.
    darkvader
  • Reply 17 of 20
    XedXed Posts: 2,703member
    Blizzard said:
    Xed said:
    And Apple sells older gen iPhones as new devices at discounted prices.

    Not as cheap as the used iPhones that are refurbished.
    Xed said:
    And on top of that, Apple is the only company that still supports their devices in HW and SW many years after they've been on the market when other vendors just push you to trash it and buy a new one.

    Gee.....it's almost like you are proving my point here and not realizing it.
    It's almost like you don't realize that I was agreeing with your post and then adding to it in your reply to Lkrupp.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,966member
    DAalseth said:
    I remember this with Macs and other computers. There was a lot of talk about upgradability, A lot of people here and on other sites saying how critical it was to be able to add RAM, or replace drives, and such. But the fact was they were the minority. Most people would buy a computer, use it until it didn't do what they wanted any more, and then replace it. I suspect most people upgrade their phone, not because they have to, but because they want to. They don't want to repair their phones any more than they want to repair their car, or their furnace, or put new shingles on their roof. 
    The same can be said about a lot of features with Apple products. How many people need an HDMI port? How many people need 4 TB4 ports? How many people need a headphone jack? Part of the equation is how does a feature affect those who don't use it? If the feature benefits some users but harms others, then you have to weigh relative benefit/harm. If a feature benefits some users and as neutral to the rest then the "few people use it" argument becomes much weaker or even irrelevant. The other consideration is that even if the users themselves didn't do upgrading, they could bring it to a service center to do the upgrade.

    Historically, memory and hard drives are the two components that users need to upgrade. Apple traditionally overcharges for both, the prices of both tend to drop over time and the OS usage of both tends to increase with successive versions. All three of these lead to the need to upgrade them. I'm not sure if the unified memory architecture even allows for memory upgrades, but I can't think of many people who wouldn't appreciate the ability upgrade their hard drive.
    edited November 2021 williamlondondarkvadermuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 20
    DAalseth said:
    I remember this with Macs and other computers. There was a lot of talk about upgradability, A lot of people here and on other sites saying how critical it was to be able to add RAM, or replace drives, and such. But the fact was they were the minority. Most people would buy a computer, use it until it didn't do what they wanted any more, and then replace it.

    Except that's not even remotely close to true.  Back when you could upgrade RAM and hard drives on Macs, the VAST majority of people bought the minimum configuration and either upgraded immediately or a few years later when RAM and HD prices dropped.

    Apple knew this, and that's why the RAM and SSDs are soldered now.  There is NO valid technical reason for it.  It's purely a cash grab by Apple.  Any performance gains are trivial, whole system reliability goes through the floor and TCO goes through the roof with soldered SSDs.
    muthuk_vanalingam
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