If you've cracked your iPhone screen and are dreading the wait to get it fixed, things might be looking up.
By the end of the year, Apple will nearly double the locations around the world that use its closely guarded screen fixing technology, according to Reuters.
The iPhone maker will sell 400 of its proprietary screen repair machines to third-party authorized service providers, which include chains like Best Buy and smaller independent shops, in 25 countries. Reuters reports that the machines, which Apple calls "Horizon Machines," are "gray metal boxes the size of a microwave with a swing-out windowed door" and that they take between 10 and 12 minutes to repair a cracked screen without much human involvement.
Distributing these repair machines to third-party shops is a shift in strategy: Apple has largely controlled the processes and technology involved in repairing iPhones. If you brought your phone to one of Apple's authorized third-party service providers in the past, the shop didn't actually repair it itself. Until now, these third-party stores would mail iPhones to Apple stores or repair centers for certain repairs, including screens.
Apple is initially rolling out 200 machines to some of Apple's 4,800 authorized third-party service providers in Miami, the San Francisco Bay Area, London, Shanghai, Singapore, and other places.
There are currently about 500 screen fixing machines in the wild, almost all of them operating behind the scenes at Apple's own retail stores or the company's mail-in repair centers, according to Reuters.
The motivation for the distribution, Apple told BuzzFeed News, is twofold: meeting increasing demand for same-day repairs, especially in places without Apple stores, and relieving pressure on Apple stores, which are facing rising wait times as more people buy iPhones.
Estimates peg phone repair as a $4 billion business worldwide. Apple previously charged $99 for a screen repair if you had Apple Care (which cost $99 or $129 per year, depending on the size of your phone); now the price for a screen repair if you pay for Apple Care has dropped to $29.
Some independent, unauthorized repair shops say they'll fix a phone for as little as $10. But you'll void your warranty and Apple Care if these unapproved smartphone mechanics damage your device in any way. Apple also told Reuters that the Horizon Machine is the only thing that can fix a phone that needs more complex repairs, like if its touch sensor needs replacing.
The announcement comes as eight states are considering "right to repair" bills.
The legislation would require tech companies to make individual parts, diagnostic tests, and repair manuals available to consumers and third-party retailers, something Apple has refused to do since the iPhone debuted a decade ago. iPhones aren't the only target of the bills though: Farming equipment is high on the list, too.
Apple has lobbied against the bills, saying that these laws would open up the nearly 1 billion iPhones worldwide to hacking and that it won't be able to ensure that third-party repairs meet quality standards. The company wouldn't comment on whether it will continue to lobby against these bills.
Apple told Reuters that the legislation — introduced in New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming — had nothing to do with the timing of its plan to give third-party repair shops the ability to repair iPhone screens on their own.
Blake Montgomery is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Blake Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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