Not really, anyway: The software updates are administered by Apple, and if you break your touchscreen, the company does everything in its power to make sure you have to visit Apple's licensed stores to fix it. Each little screw holding the device together is a special, proprietary design you won't find in any standard toolbox. When you power on, you're doing so at Apple's mercy--no matter how many hundreds of dollars you paid for your iPhone. Your gadget's on borrowed time. It's just inevitable, at this point, that the device will be laid out by some future iOS update, or a touchscreen that short circuits after taking a spill on your bathroom tile.
My co-worker, Tracey, held her iPhone like a baby bird with a bent wing. I stared at the dark screen. The device was still on, but stuck between the worlds of being living technology, and a busted iPhone. She explained that while making a phone call shortly after having third-party iPhone screen repair company iCracked replace her shattered iPhone 6 screen, the device made a popping sound, and got really hot in one corner. Then, her screen cracked, and burnt her ear.
Third-party repair stores are a common option if you drop or break your smartphone, but Apple is reportedly not a fan of these alternative repair options. Apple is one of several high-profile companies that have been lobbying against a New York state bill that would make it easier to independent stores and users to repair devices. According to Motherboard, the Fair Repair Act would have companies sell replacement parts and tools to everyone, bans software locks that would limit repairs and, in some cases, have companies provide repair guides publicly. However, Apple and other companies have come out aggressively against the proposed legislation. Along with Apple, other companies who have lobbied against the Fair Repair Act include Toyota, Caterpillar and Verizon.
Apple is planning to oppose a "Right to Repair" legislation introduced last month in the Nebraska legislature, Motherboard reported Wednesday, citing an unnamed source within the legislature. The bill for the Fair Repair Act is aimed at ending the manufacturers' aftermarket monopoly, wherein only authorized service providers are allowed to carry out repairs. However, the right to repair movement, which has also gained cachet in the states of Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, Kansas, Wyoming, Illinois and Tennessee -- has faced vehement opposition not just from Apple, but also from tractor manufacturer John Deere. The company argued in 2015 that allowing people to tinker with their software -- even if it's for the purpose of repair -- would "make it possible for pirates, third-party software developers, and less innovative competitors to free-ride off the creativity, unique expression and ingenuity of vehicle software designed by leading vehicle manufacturers." When the Nebraska bill is tabled for a hearing on March 9, Apple -- which has successfully lobbied against similar bills in other states -- is expected to argue, among other things, that allowing customers or independent mechanics to repair their own phones could cause the devices' lithium-ion batteries to catch fire.
The fight for our right to repair the stuff we own has suffered a huge setback. As anyone who repairs electronics knows, keeping a device in working order often means fixing both its hardware and software. But a big California farmers' lobbying group just blithely signed away farmers' right to access or modify the source code of any farm equipment software. As an organization representing 2.5 million California agriculture jobs, the California Farm Bureau gave up the right to purchase repair parts without going through a dealer. Farmers can't change engine settings, can't retrofit old equipment with new features, and can't modify their tractors to meet new environmental standards on their own.