It took several months, but Apple's Self Service Repair program is now available in the US. If you have an iPhone 12, iPhone 13 or third-generation iPhone SE, you can buy key parts (such as batteries, cameras and displays) from a dedicated store and consult official repair manuals as you fix a device yourself. You can even spend $49 to rent a toolkit for a week if you'd rather not buy tools you're unlikely to use often.
The program will expand to other countries later this year, starting with Europe. You'll also have to wait until later to obtain parts, manuals and tools for Macs. Those kits will be limited to Macs with Apple silicon, so you'll be out of luck if you want to repair an Intel-based computer.
The debut comes alongside a white paper detailing Apple's expanding service strategy. The company claimed that it had "nearly doubled" the size of its repair network, and that eight out of 10 of its American customers lived within 20 minutes of an authorized repair provider. It also outlined the rationales behind design and repair decisions, including its emphasis on using official parts (to protect privacy and security) and the lack of schematics for board-level repairs. Board fixes are "best performed" by technicians who can offer high-quality, consistent results, Apple said.
The Self Service initiative is a clear response to mounting pressure to adopt Right to Repair policies. In the US, both federal- and state-level officials have either enacted or proposed Right to Repair rules. There's also growing advocacy from everyday customers, and leaked emails have suggested that Apple itself has held debates over its sometimes difficult-to-fix products. The program theoretically reduces the incentive to pass repair-friendly legislation, and might soften overall public criticism.
As it is, the fix-it-yourself landscape has changed. Google and Samsung are launching their own self-repair offerings, and companies like Valve are already designing products with repair (if not always by customers) in mind. So long as you're technically inclined, there's a real chance you may not have to trust someone else with future repairs.