New videos show flaws with Apple’s self-service repair program

The news: Shipments of parts and tools from Apple’s new self-service repair program are showing up at doorsteps…but reception is mixed.

  • The parts you order, like displays or batteries, are top-notch and indistinguishable from original Apple parts…but they’re pricey and make justifying the self-repair more challenging
  • I wound up paying about $7 more to repair my iPhone 12 Pro display myself instead of taking it to the Genius Bar and paying Apple to fix it (and it took me ~5 hours of labor)
  • The tools are a completely different story: while they are built well, they are absolutely overkill for many repairs, only obfuscating and confusing a process that could be made much simpler (ex. iFixit)
  • That’s not to mention the essential tools that Apple doesn’t send you, including cut-resistant gloves, heat-resistant gloves, and an ESD-safe mat, bracelet and tweezers

Sam’s take: This was—and I’m being serious—one of the most daunting and painful projects I have ever worked on. Not only were the instructions unchanged from those made for trained Genius Bar employees, not only did key tools like gloves and tweezers not ship in the repair kit, not only did the heavy-duty tools not function as they should…there were numerous errors and other challenges that I encountered along the way. There is literally no way I could have done this without Luke Miani at my side, and even he was flabbergasted at countless points throughout the repair. I agree with the thesis of his video: Apple’s self-service repair program was designed to fail (for most people).

New video goes hands-on with Apple’s self-service repair program

The news: Parts and tools have begun shipping out for Apple’s repair program, and the contents are intense.

  • While the actual parts for your iPhone repair ship in a small cardboard box…renting the tools is a different story
  • Apple’s $49 tool kit rental, which you get for a week, ships to your door in 2 separate pelican cases…which includes screen and battery presses, a heated display pocket and fixture, screwdrivers and more

Sam’s take: I genuinely could not believe that 3 boxes showed up at my door…2 of which were giant plastic crates that looked like they fell off of a cargo plane. Not only is this incredibly intimidating, it’s a lot of stuff Apple will be shipping each customer to facilitate a repair as simple as a screen replacement. I’m going to do the actual repair later today and see how things go, but I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting to get what is essentially the Genius Bar in the mail.

You’ll be able to subscribe to an iPhone (like you do for Apple Music) later this year

The rumor: Before the end of 2022, you might be able to subscribe to an iPhone the way you do Apple Music, according to Mark Gurman (86.4% accurate, via Bloomberg).

  • “The idea is to make the process of buying an iPhone or iPad on par with paying for iCloud storage or an Apple Music subscription each month. Apple is planning to let customers subscribe to hardware with the same Apple ID and App Store account they use to buy apps and subscribe to services today,” Gurman says
  • Rather than an installment plan, this new subscription service will be a set price each month that will allow you to upgrade to new hardware as soon as products release
  • There could be further integration with existing Apple One or AppleCare subscriptions, too
  • Apple’s new subscription service is rumored to launch at the end of 2022, but could slip until 2023

Sam’s take: This is an interesting idea that I never thought about before…and it just seems like a lot of overhead for Apple (who already seems to be doing quite well with the current pay full cost system). But access wise, this could unlock a whole new sector of people who were previously priced out of Apple products: and I think that’s a good thing. Looking forward to seeing what Apple’s pricing on an iPhone subscription month-to-month would be, though.

There might not be a SIM card slot on the 2023 iPhones

The rumor: Apple could remove the physical SIM tray from some iPhones in 2023, according to Blog do iPhone (not yet tracked).

  • According to this unverified source, Apple plans to remove the physical SIM tray from the higher-end iPhone Pro models in 2023, meaning that only a dual-eSIM would allow you to connect to cellular networks
  • Apple’s 2023 iPhone models are shaping up to be their most transformative ever, with a true all-screen design with under-display Touch ID and periscope camera lens

Our take: Considering that this is the first rumors I’ve ever seen from Blog do iPhone, I’m treating this purely as speculation. That being said, I don’t think a portless iPhone is anything too out there at this point…so removing the SIM tray would just be part of that transition. Next year seems too early, but 2023 sounds about right to me.

New report says Apple plans to scan your iPhone for images of child abuse

The rumor: Apple is working on new software to scan your photo library for images of child abuse, according to the Financial Times (not yet tracked).

  • The upcoming tool, dubbed neuralMatch “would proactively alert a team of human reviewers if it believes illegal imagery is detected, who would then contact law enforcement if the material can be verified. The scheme will initially roll out only in the US…Apple’s neuralMatch algorithm will continuously scan photos that are stored on a US user’s iPhone and have also been uploaded to its iCloud back-up system. Users’ photos, converted into a string of numbers through a process known as ‘hashing’, will be compared with those on a database of known images of child sexual abuse” FT explains
  • Numerous security researchers, while supportive of ideas to help stop child exploitation, have voiced grave concerns with the means to justify the ends and how this could be exploited in malicious ways by governmental entities in the future

Our take: I don’t think there’s a single rational person who think that less child abuse imagery in the world is a bad thing. But how Apple plans to get there is concerning.

Apple has publicly shown their dedication to privacy and security time and time again, but this move jeopardizes that in a way we haven’t seen before. We’ll have to wait for the official word from Apple before making a final decision, but those who study this kind of a thing for a living don’t seem to think it’s a good precedent to set in any way.

Another report says LiDAR remaining exclusive to iPhone 13 Pro models

The rumor: Only Pro iPhones in 2021 will feature the LiDAR sensor, according to dylandkt (81.3% accurate).

  • Only iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max will include the LiDAR sensor, which makes augmented reality tasks significantly more accurate and assists with focus in low-light
  • A previous report from January suggested LiDAR would make its way to all 2021 iPhones

Our take: Frankly, I don’t think non-Pro users are missing out on much of anything here. The LiDAR sensor is nice, but it is by no means a significant feature in its current state.

Leaked iPhone 12s cases visualize significantly larger camera modules

The leak: New photos of iPhone 12s cases showing sizing changes have surfaced, as spotted first by DuanRui on Twitter.

Our take: I didn’t realize how much bigger than camera modules were getting until I saw these photos…wow. Definitely seems like the cameras will be a larger focus than normal this year.

All 2022 iPhones could get 120Hz-capable LTPO displays

The rumor: All 2022 iPhones will be getting low-temperature polycrystalline oxide (LTPO) displays capable of varying refresh rates, according to The Elec (75% accurate, source).

  • A new supplier, potentially LG, will have a new production line capable of making LTPO displays ready for Apple’s lower-end 2022 iPhone models
  • Later this year, LTPO displays enabling a 120Hz refresh rate are coming to only the iPhones Pro

Our take: This sounds unlikely considering that 120Hz is the definition of a premium feature, but The Elec has a solid track record for these sorts of details. But I’m not convinced yet. For example, the Apple Watch Series 4 had an LTPO display, capable of always-on functionality, but Apple didn’t enable the future until a year later on Apple Watch Series 5.

2021 iPhone will be called ‘iPhone 13,’ according to least accurate source of all-time

The rumor: This year’s iPhone will be called “iPhone 13,” according to Economic Daily News (EDN) (38.6% accurate, source).

  • The new report says the 5.4, 6.1 and 6.7-inch iPhone models will be called “iPhone 13 mini,” “iPhone 13,” “iPhone 13 Pro,” and “iPhone 13 Pro Max” respectively
  • EDN is the weakest source on the AppleTrack leaderboard, and has been sine the site’s inception in May 2020

Our take: Sure, the 2021 iPhones could be called iPhone 13. But for that to be the case, the following had to be true: 1) a weak supply chain source has months-early access to highly protected marketing information 2) Apple will break the naming tradition they’ve followed for the past 5+ years and 3) the upgrades would have to be much more significant than we’re hearing about now. So yeah, I’m skeptical.

2022 iPhone lineup to consist of multiple 6.7-inch ‘Max’ models, under-display Touch ID also coming

The rumor: Apple is planning to revamp the sizing for the 2022 iPhones, according to Ming-Chi Kuo (76.6% accurate).

  • According to Kuo’s latest investor note, Apple is planning to eliminate the mini iPhone and do essentially the following lineup:
    • 6.1-inch iPhone
    • 6.7-inch iPhone Max
    • 6.1-inch iPhone Pro
    • 6.7-inch iPhone Pro Max
  • The lower-end 6.7-inch iPhone is predicted to start at under $900
  • Under-display Touch ID has also been rumored again, but is also supposed to happen on the new iPhones coming later this year

Our take: This is huge news, as the market demand for sub-$900 6.7-inch iPhone would be wild. The plus-to-max sized iPhones have always been Apple’s most expensive, but this shift to a lower-end big iPhone is something that a lot of people have been asking for. Good riddance to the mini iPhone in 2022.