While the standard iPhone 14 doesn’t look like a significant upgrade from its predecessor – with no camera, processor or display improvements seen on the Pro version – it’s improved in a significant way that you won’t be able to see immediately.
According to the website I’ll fix it In its latest product breakdown, the iPhone 14 is the easiest Apple handset to repair since the iPhone 7, which launched way back in 2016.
Despite Apple being notoriously difficult to repair in an effort to encourage customers to use its own teams, a bold new internal design has remarkably made repairing the devices easier without changing their durability or 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 most important difference that initiates the change is that the 14 opens both from the front and from the back, which makes both the screen easy to change and other internal parts easily accessible.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is: handsets usually choose one or the other, with newer iPhones opting for the front and Android devices for the back.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages: screen replacement is difficult on flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S22, but other repairs are easier, while it was extremely difficult to get to the internals on the iPhone 13.
This new design offers the best of both worlds, and it has been no small task, requiring a new internal design to include a metal frame in addition to other changes.
“In other words, Apple has gone back to the drawing board and reworked the iPhone’s insides to make repair easier,” Wiens writes – and all without the world noticing.
If it really is easier to repair the upcoming models, maybe breaking your phone won’t always cost you the eye-popping £316.44 it does now (for the iPhone 13 Pro Max). Easier repairs mean more third-party options on the market, reducing costs for consumers.
However, Behind The Screen recently reported a 43 percent increase in the cost of Apple battery replacement services in the US. In the UK, even higher increases can be found via Apple’s ‘Get An Estimate’ tool, which increases from £69 to £105 between iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 models, a 65 per cent increase.
Apple’s support page also states that an iPhone’s warranty does not cover batteries that wear down with normal use. However, customers with Apple Care Plus can still have the battery replaced for free as long as it has less than 8 percent of its original capacity.
With these higher costs in mind, it’s debatable whether the iPhone 14 series will be cheaper to maintain overall.
Also, despite the innovation around easily accessible repairs, iFixIt still only gives the iPhone 14 a repair score of 7/10.
That’s because Apple is reportedly going ahead with some very anti-consumer moves to block third-party repairs, which require parts to be activated by Apple to work. “You really shouldn’t need Apple’s permission to install a glass panel on a phone you already own,” Wiens claims.
Still, it’s a positive step in the right direction, and Wiens believes it’s something Apple should shout about from the rooftops. “Why doesn’t Tim Cook brag 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 Apple seems to be making a concerted effort to sell to fans — don’t benefit from these repair improvements.
They still have the same hard-to-tear-down design of their recent relatives, and while iFixIt hasn’t yet published an overall score, that likely means it’ll be close to the iPhone 13 Pro’s less impressive 6/10 judgment.
Still, you can’t imagine Apple would invest so much in research and development of this invisible new repair solution if it wasn’t eventually introduced across the board. Hopefully this means the iPhone 15 Pro will be built the same way – minus the need for Apple to activate replacement parts, of course.