Apple iOS 15 remains a dumpster fire. It launched full of bugs, has left zero-day hacks unpatched and introduces several serious privacy concerns. Now iOS 15 is taking a positive step forward, but it will come at a cost for millions of users.
A new Apple support page has confirmed that iOS 15.2, the next version of iOS 15 due for release next week, will introduce an “iPhone parts and service history”. This will monitor major iPhone components and issue warnings about any third party parts used in a repair. This level of transparency is welcome but, at a stroke, it will also wipe out the cheaper aftermarket industry and increase repair prices.
Breaking down the new feature, Apple explains which phones and which parts will be monitored in iOS 15.2:
- For iPhone XR, XS, XS Max, and later, including iPhone SE (2nd generation), you can see if the battery has been replaced.
- For iPhone 11 models, iPhone 12 models, and iPhone 13 models, you can see if the battery or display have been replaced.
- For iPhone 12 models and iPhone 13 models, you can see if the battery, display, or camera have been replaced.
“Genuine Apple Part” will be displayed beside each official component, with “Unknown part” and a warning symbol flagging anything from a third party. Though it’s not quite that simple.
Good In Theory, Some Concerns In Practice
First, Apple plans to use this data. The company says “Information about parts and service history is collected by Apple and stored as part of the device information maintained for your iPhone. This information is used for service needs, safety analysis, and to improve future products.”
Second, Apple has a track record of hostile behaviour towards even its own official parts if they are not fitted by an Apple authorized technician. Notably, the iPhone 13 range introduced a new microcontroller which would disable Face ID on the phones if the technician did not use Apple Services Toolkit 2’ (AST2), an expensive proprietary service which requires consent and certification from Apple.
Popular repairer iFixit called it “completely unprecedented” saying “Screen replacement is incredibly common. Tens of thousands of repair shops around the world support their communities by replacing screens for customers at competitive prices. And Apple is, with one fell swoop, seemingly cutting the industry off at the knees.”
Apple subsequently U-turned on this and promised to open repairs up to end users, but the company has a track record of making similar repair blocking moves with Touch ID, iPhone batteries and cameras.
Third, costs will go up. It is clear that anyone buying a second-hand iPhone from now on will request the parts history of the device. Given Apple’s history of blocking or flagging even official parts when replaced by any technician not signed up to AST2, a fear of false positives is likely to see many iPhone users head to Apple itself to avoid potential stains on their device’s parts history.
As such, while I broadly support Apple’s decision to introduce this feature in iOS 15.2, I can also see how it could be exploited and create a sense of anxiety for owners about repairs, which will result in higher repair costs moving forward. The end game? I suspect Apple will sell even more AppleCare+ insurance packages at circa $200pa.
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