Apple blocking user access to iPhone with special screws | iLounge News


Apple blocking user access to iPhone with special screws


Apple is beginning to use specialized screws to seal the outside case of the iPhone 4, according to a new report. Arguing that the move represents an effort by Apple to keep users from being able to repair their own phones, iFixIt reports that Apple is using a new five-point “Pentalobe” screw, for which there are no readily available screwdrivers. According to the report, Apple has used three different sizes of the screw, first using it to secure the battery of the mid-2009 MacBook Pro, then using an extremely small variant on some iPhone 4 units, and employing yet another size to lock users out of the new MacBook Air. In addition, the report claims that should a user bring in for repair an iPhone 4 with standard Phillips screws on the exterior, Apple will replace them with the new, tamper-resistant Pentalobe screws without notifying the customer of the change. As a remedy, iFixIt is offering a $10 “iPhone 4 Liberation Kit,” which includes a five-point screwdriver—good for removing the Pentalobe screws but not recommended for repeated use—along with two Phillips replacement screws and a #00 Phillips screwdriver for future servicing.

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I was planning on stocking up on spare batteries from iFixIt anyway.  Not that I would ever take any of my JB’n and unlocked iPhones in for repair, but thanks for the warning about them replacing the stock screws.  The iPhones that I have now will be the last items I ever purchase from crApple…

Posted by The Digital Alchemist on January 20, 2011 at 2:34 PM (CST)


Surprised they didn’t make a screw head with a tiny Apple logo!

Posted by BrennerM on January 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM (CST)


@2: They probably thought about it, but the lack of radial symmetry would have slowed down their Chinese labor a few seconds per unit.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 20, 2011 at 5:00 PM (CST)


they could have used the “Arthur Spooner” screw driver with corresponding “A” hole  

(King of Queens reference)

Posted by scottrey on January 20, 2011 at 6:53 PM (CST)


I wonder what the ACTUAL reason for this is, rather than the fantasy that Apple is evil and wants to steal all the fun and kittens in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re sick of giving out free phones to hackers/modders who screw up and expect a free iPhone.

Posted by Shawn on January 21, 2011 at 4:29 AM (CST)


If an Apple employee TAKES the screws out of an iphone that a customer owns, isn’t that considered theft? If the customer wasn’t consulted and didn’t give permission for the needless switch, it would seem to be theft to me. Why doesn’t someone call them on this?

Posted by gear on January 21, 2011 at 6:18 AM (CST)


I can’t believe I’m posting this, but don’t you guys have better things to complain about?

Posted by DP on January 21, 2011 at 10:31 AM (CST)


Fisher price and TinyLove have been doing this with kid’s toys for ages - using triangular screw heads for which no screwdriver is commonly available.  They get away with it for “safety” reasons, since the screws are tamper-proof (if your kid happens to find a screwdriver lying around the house).

Posted by Dopial on January 21, 2011 at 10:58 AM (CST)


I dont have any great problem with this, my guess is that Apple want to stop people opening up their devices and causing problems. And maybe they also want to protect their technology.

Torx and other similar fixings were secure initially now anyone can buy them.

Finally, I think the comment on limited use is relevant, if the pentalobe is not durable over multiple uses, then this is another way of highlighting devices that have been opened up.

Posted by Cyberman on January 21, 2011 at 1:01 PM (CST)


Here’s the only reasonable criticism of it I can make:

To increase their profits by a few million a year, in 2007 Apple dropped the very cheap circuitry required to still allow charging via the firewire pin (we’re talking a few cents per unit). This move on their part indirectly cost consumers many millions of dollars to replace now-defunct chargers, docks, speaker units, car units, etc.. Apple made an extra nickel, if that, off of me, but I had to spend $20 to replace my car charger and my $130 iHome unit no longer charges, greatly reducing its usefulness to me, and that’s just me. This cost penalty was imposed to tens of millions of consumers just so Apple could make a few more pennies per unit.

For whatever reason, whether it’s to potentially reduce warranty costs to users who bork up something in their Apple electronics, or just a general sense of thwarting people from snooping in “their” goods, Apple’s now making some sort of proprietary screw versus using an off the shelf screw. Sure, spread out over the number of devices Apple makes, I’m sure the costs of this change are negligible, but then so weren’t the costs to keep firewire pin based charging functional.

And for what? The three months of time it will take for sets of these pentalobe screw drivers to show up on eBay for $5 shipped?

No, it’s hardly worth getting in a lather over, but is interesting enough to note as part of a continued pattern of behavior in regards to the end consumer.

Posted by Code Monkey on January 22, 2011 at 9:01 AM (CST)


“I dont have any great problem with this, my guess is that Apple want to stop people opening up their devices and causing problems.”

Are you kidding??  “Apple wants to stop people from opening up THEIR devices and causing problems”?

Man, you fan bois really fall into line don’t you?  The only reason Apple is doing this is to further clamp down on their closed system and prevent people who BOUGHT and OWN their iPhone from being able to change their battery.  It is the same reason Apple added a chip and rendred most after-market product useless unless they first paid a fee to Apple.

Unbelievable how many posts here demonstrate how people are so willing to bow down to the Apple god and still sing hosannas.  Wow.

Posted by Obadiah on January 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM (CST)


To be honest I think most manufacturers would rather people did not open their electronic devices. Microsoft and Sony don’t want people modding their consoles, and most devices have voided warranties if opened.
I work for a major building controls manufacturer, and if anyone opens up our kit and alters it then then guess what, no warranty and no support.

And in general I agree with this, why would I want to open my iPod, iPad, Xbox, Wii or Panasonic breadmaker? If they break under warranty I’ll get them replaced, otherwise if its financially sensible I’ll get them repaired. Very few of these devices would I attempt to repair myself, and I think many people would feel the same.

I have never felt the need to jailbreak or modify my devices, but appreciate some people enjoy this.
But, I guess if people want to open their devices just to look inside or tinker then thats their decision, i just don’t think manufacturers need to agree to this or make it easy.

Posted by Cyberman on January 24, 2011 at 4:30 PM (CST)


“If an Apple employee TAKES the screws out of an iphone that a customer owns, isn’t that considered theft? If the customer wasn’t consulted and didn’t give permission for the needless switch, it would seem to be theft to me. Why doesn’t someone call them on this?”

Generally when you bring your iPhone in to an Apple Store for repair, Apple actually just swaps it out for an entirely new unit, which of course will likely have the new screws.  This is true even in the case of relatively basic repairs like glass damage; Apple Stores simply don’t have the resources to repair iPhones (or iPods) on-site, so they swap them out for a new or refurbished unit and send the damaged unit back for repairs (which then becomes a refurbished unit that is swapped out for somebody else’s warranty repair).

Posted by Jesse Hollington on January 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM (CST)

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