hile the standard iPhone 14 doesn’t appear like a substantial upgrade from its predecessor — without the camera, processor or display improvements seen on the Pro version — it’s improved in one significant way that you won’t be able to see immediately.
According to website iFixIt in its latest product teardown, the iPhone 14 is the easiest Apple handset to repair since the iPhone 7, launched all the way back in 2016.
Despite Apple being notoriously tricky to repair in an effort to encourage customers to use their own teams, a bold new internal design remarkably has made repairing the devices easier without changing the durability or external appearance.
“This is such a big deal that it should have been Apple’s big announcement — the iPhone has been redesigned from the inside out to make it easier to repair,” writes iFixIt CEO Kyle Wiens.
The key difference ushering in the change is that the 14 opens from both the front and the back, making both the screen easy to replace and other internals easy to access.
That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is: handsets typically pick one or the other, with recent iPhones choosing the front and Android devices the back.
Both have their pros and cons: screen swaps are tricky on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S22, but other fixes are easier, while getting to the internals on the iPhone 13 was extremely difficult.
This new design offers the best of both worlds, and it’s been no small undertaking, requiring a new internal design to incorporate a metal medframe as well as other changes.
“In other words, Apple has gone back to the drawing board and reworked the iPhone’s internals to make repair easier,” Wiens writes — and all without the world noticing.
If repairing the upcoming models really is easier, then smashing your phone might not always cost you the eye-watering £316.44 that it does now (for the iPhone 13 Pro Max). Easier repairs mean more third-party options on the market, bringing costs down for consumers.
However, Behind The Screen recently reported a 43 per cent increase in the cost of battery-replacement services from Apple in the US. In the UK, even higher increases can be found via Apple’s ‘Get An Estimate’ tool, increasing from £69 to £105 between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 models, an increase of 65 per cent.
Apple’s support page also states that an iPhone’s warranty doesn’t cover batteries that wear down from normal use. However, customers with Apple Care Plus can still have their battery replaced for free so long as it holds less than 8 per cent of its original capacity.
With these higher costs in mind, it’s debatable whether the iPhone 14 range will be cheaper to maintain overall.
What’s more, despite the innovation around easy-access repairs, iFixIt still only gives the iPhone 14 a repairability score of 7/10.
That’s because Apple reportedly persists with some very anti-consumer moves to block third-party repairs, requiring parts to be activated by Apple in order to function. “You really shouldn’t need Apple’s permission to install a sheet of glass on a phone that you already own,” Wiens argues.
All the same, it’s a positive step in the right direction, and Wiens thinks it’s something that Apple should be shouting about from the rooftops. “Why isn’t Tim Cook bragging about repairability?” he asks. “We had no idea this was coming, because Apple didn’t mention it — at all.”
One possible reason is that the Pro models — the ones that Apple seems to be making a concerted effort to upsell to its fans — don’t benefit from these repairability improvements.
They still have the same hard-to-teardown design of their recent relatives, and while iFixIt has yet to publish an overall score, that probably means it’ll be close to the iPhone 13 Pro’s less impressive 6/10 verdict.
Still, you can’t imagine that Apple would invest so much in the R&D of this invisible new repairability solution if it weren’t eventually going to be introduced across the board. Hopefully, this means that the iPhone 15 Pro will be built the same way — minus the need for Apple to activate replacement parts, of course.