A damaged screen is one of (if not the) most common gadget disasters that can befall a smartphone owner. A single drop or slip and tiny shards of display glass usually mean not-so-tiny repair expenses.
It's even worse with an iPhone because of the screen's tendency to shatter when it lands on its edge. If you don't have Apple Care or phone insurance, this means you'll have to shell out big money from your own pocket to cover the screen replacement. Taking it to an official Apple Store also means, more often than not, long waiting times for a screen repair.
Note: The Samsung Galaxy S8 was also found to be extremely susceptible to screen cracking. Clicking here to find out why.
Of course, you can take your shattered iPhone to a third-party repair shop or, if you're bold and handy enough, repair it yourself. But the procedure can be tricky and may lead to further damage, typically to the fingerprint sensor.
Apple reportedly uses a proprietary tool called the "Horizon Machine" to repair broken iPhone screens in its retail stores and for mailed repairs. The tech giant has always kept this machine's design a secret and has never shared it with others... until now.
To reduce the long wait times for iPhone repairs at Apple Stores, reports are saying that the Horizon Machine, which calibrates the screen and pairs a fingerprint sensor to a specific iPhone, will be made available to around 400 authorized third-party repair shops in 25 countries by the end of 2017.
Best Buy's repair centers were among the first to use these machines, with one already situated in a Miami and another coming soon to a store in Sunnyvale, California.
The initial rollout will involve around 200 authorized repair shops globally over the next few months but Apple is planning to double that number by the end of the year.
Aside from the Best Buy in Miami, Horizon Machines are already installed in third-party iPhone repair shops in San Francisco, London, Shanghai and Singapore.
Although Apple denies that legislative pressure has anything to do with it, the timing of this policy change coincides with the launching of "right to repair" bills in eight U.S. states. It also comes after the Supreme Court handed down its decision on refurbished printer cartridges, reinforcing a consumer's "right to tinker."
Right to repair
These "right to repair" bills, which aim to protect small repair shops and do-it-yourself hobbyists, are being introduced in New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming.
The bills propose to require manufacturers to supply repair manuals, tools, and first-party replacement parts at reasonable prices to the general public including third party shops.
Apple has already sold more than a billion iPhones globally but a huge chunk of its customers do not have easy access to an Apple Store or an authorized repair center. These iPhone owners usually turn to small repair shops and independent service centers and it's a booming business. Cellphone repair reportedly generates about $4 billion in revenue per year.
With this new policy, we are hoping that quality iPhone screen repair costs will finally go down.
What do you think? Is Apple's sharing of its iPhone repair technology a good thing for the tech industry? Drop us a comment!