Roughly half of Australian smartphone users are iPhone owners and if you’re one of them there’s a fair chance you’ve also broken one of the phones at some point or another, but Apple is now making it easier and cheaper to get your phone or computer fixed without dealing with the world’s most valuable company directly.
Apple announced on Tuesday it would expand its “Independent Repair Provider” (IRP) program to a further 200 countries, including Australia, giving you another option to repair your iPhone or Mac computer.
The program was first launched in the US in 2019 and expanded to the European Union and Canada last year.
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It allows your average neighbourhood repairer to take a few online courses and pass exams to become a certified repairer, giving them access to the tools, instructions, diagnostics and parts they need to fix the devices when they’re out of or not covered by warranty – saving you having to book in with an Apple “genius” at one of the company’s 22 Australian stores.
IRPs are also able to give customers the option of using Apple approved third-party products, which could bring down the price of repairs too, although unspecified fines apply to repairers caught using non-approved or “counterfeit” products.
Using third-party products won’t void the warranty but damage caused by the repairer won’t be covered.
That’s the key difference between an IRP and an “Apple Authorised Service Provider” (AASP), who are only allowed to use Apple parts.
You can verify that a repairer is certified through Apple’s support website, which will become populated with Australian repairers as they achieve certification in the newly launched program.
It’s free for repairers and individual technicians to be certified through the online courses, but they need to be established businesses with a walk-in commercial location.
One repairer told news.com.au they were a “bit surprised” to learn about the new program because it “doesn’t really sound like Apple”, but they welcomed the news.
“They do design their things to only work with their products, which I kind of get, but it’s good they’re not trying to cut the small guys out anymore,” the repairer said.
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Australia fights for the right to repair
The introduction of the program comes on the back of long-running discussions about the “right to repair” in recent years that have also seen the cost of fixing an iPhone increase significantly too (through the addition of high-tech sensors for things like Face ID being crammed into the phone displays).
Right to repair is currently the subject of an inquiry from the Productivity Commission.
The Commission released an issues paper in December focusing on consumer ability to repair faulty products themselves or access repair services at a competitive price.
The inquiry is also looking at ways to reduce electronic waste and combating planned obsolescence.
Apple also has plans to refurbish faulty parts or recycle them through part of a broader plan to eventually use recycled materials to make the phones themselves.