Thus, this year’s maintainability scores reflect some incremental improvements in the repair process itself, but some scores have been lowered due to aggressive politicking by companies behind the scenes. Apple’s iPhone jumped from last year’s “F” to “D” rating. The Google Pixel phones retained their “D” score but received a slight boost in the score. Samsung has consistently remained in the “C” category for its phones. Microsoft laptops still get an overall “D” rating, but this year their lead is much closer to the “C” rating. Nearly all laptop manufacturers, with the exception of Lenovo, scored higher, with HP, Dell, Asus, and Acer receiving a “B”.
However, even though Apple has improved the overall repairability of the iPhone, US PIRG claims that its parts are still too expensive. And Apple Mac laptops still get an “F” because they are “twice as difficult to open and repair as Dell laptops.” Samsung phones are still too hard to take apart compared to Motorola phones. Motorola phones were identified as the most repairable of the four manufacturers, but lost points due to poor parts availability.
US PIRG said that Apple lost the most points due to the company’s heavy lobbying for repairs. And while Microsoft is not part of TechNet, one of the major trade groups involved in such lobbying, Microsoft is a member of the Consumer Technology Association and has lobbied against California’s SB 983.
Those who oppose right-to-repair legislation often point to concerns that making it easier to repair products will compromise the safety of devices, although repair advocates ridicule these arguments and accuse the tech industry of fueling fear. TechNet, a trade organization representing much of the industry including Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, HP, AirBnB, Uber and Lyft, reaffirmed its position in a statement to WIRED that the Right to Repair Act as proposed in present time. will threaten the privacy and security of personal technical devices.
“Current repair bills in states across the country require digital electronics manufacturers to provide confidential diagnostic information and trade secrets to unverified third parties without requiring any of the critical consumer protection provided by authorized service networks,” David Edmonson, TechNet Vice President. for public policy and government relations, the email said. “Instead of government orders and a patchwork of universal repair rules that create more problems than they answer, let the market continue to react.”
The market did react—to a certain extent. A few years ago, Apple began actively expanding its Independent Repair Provider Program, which allows independent repair shops to be certified to repair Apple products using genuine Apple parts. Then, in November 2021, under pressure to improve maintainability, Apple announced a self-repair program that made parts, tools, and manuals for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 available directly to customers. Samsung followed suit: in August 2022, it began providing customers with DIY repair tools for the Galaxy S20 and S21 smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tab S7+.
In April 2022, Google said it was partnering with self-repair firm iFixit to make Google Pixel phones more repairable. Microsoft said late last year that it would make parts for Surface laptops available to consumers in 2023.
Proponents of the refurbishment still see the moves as an attempt to preempt legislation, as is the case with the recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) that John Deere signed with the national agricultural group. John Deere has in theory agreed to make tractor repairs more affordable for farmers, although the MoU is not legally enforceable. Part of the agreement required the American Federation of Farm Bureaus to “refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state right-to-repair legislation.”