Repairability and upgradability for smartphones is a load of crap.

The Verge Says:

Why Apple and other tech companies are fighting to keep devices hard to repair
A new report says the tech industry is using its outsized influence to combat environmental product standards

This is bullshit.

Yes it’s true companies could make easier to repair (fatter, less waterproof) phones, but people don’t want to buy them. Every attempt at an upgradable phone has failed miserably in the market. There have been dozens of Android phones launched with HUGE fanfare because you could upgrade/swap memory and batteries and they’ve all failed.

Because in order to do that you need to add more hardware, which makes the phone bigger/heavier/more cumbersome, more expensive to make, & less waterproof.

We get new phones because of new features not because the old one is dead, and those geeks who got ‘upgradable’ phones found out pretty quickly that whatever they wanted to upgrade (CPU, Memory, OS) turned out not to be as upgradable as they thought since phones are such a new/immature market.

The Verge goes on to say:

The company makes it difficult to repair its products by using proprietary screws, unibody enclosures, and other manufacturing and design techniques that make it so only Apple or computer repair experts can easily take them apart. The company also makes it notoriously difficult to replace its batteries, by gluing them to other components and burying them beneath layers of complex, sensitive parts.

Putting aside the whole “people don’t care” and “all this extra work/cost/environmental impact will only give you an extra year or so at best, lets keep in mind that:

  1. People CAN pay $30 to get their screen fixed when in warrantee or get the battery replaced for $100 (less if they do it themselves), but *so few* people choose to. Max just got a 3rd party battery case for his iPhone 4s for $20… much cheaper than replacing the battery. Certainly not the “end of the world” that this article implies. Probably more environmentally friendly than if EVERY iPhone 4s was big and clunky with a removable (non-waterproof) battery. And so *now* his phone is fat and runs fine.
  2. What about desktops? I mean think about how many environmentally unsound things are in a desktop computer vs your phone. And how much more packaging it takes. And how much fuel to ship it from China. Phones are probably some of the MOST environmentally friendly computers EVER. Sure they’re being used at a greater scale than desktops ever were… but you could probably throw out your phone every 12 months and still make less impact on the environment than your 6-year-old desktop computer sucking down electricity and taking up space.
  3. Apple is hands down one of the most environmentally conscious companies ever. For years when Steve Jobs was running it they just “did the right thing” and got slammed every year. They were ranked behind companies like Dell by Greenpeace and others because while they *were* more environmentally friendly, they didn’t make promises they couldn’t keep about how they’d do in the future like most other tech companies.
  4. Apple has also consistently for the past 20 years made machines that stay in use 20-50% longer than their peers, and the iPhone isn’t any different.

Hopefully in 5 years when the technology becomes commoditized and stops changing every year we’ll also have some new battery technologies that bring us up to an easy 4 year shelf-life for a phone… but the whole planned obsolescence thing?

I call bullshit.

You can read the whole Verge article here, but if you do please take it with a gallon of salt… 🙂