Apple is reportedly looking to install its proprietary "Horizon" machines in about 400 external repair centers across 25 countries by the end of the year in order to reduce waiting times for iPhone screen replacements and other related issues. This means you’ll be able to get an Apple-sanctioned repair for a broken iPhone screen at retailers like Best Buy and other authorized repair centers.
The move is a major shift for Apple, which earlier this year opposed new 'Right to Repair' legislation that would require them and other electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts to consumers and independent repair shops, and require them to make diagnostic and service manuals available to the public.
Apple told Reuters that legislative pressure was not a factor in its decision to share its technology. Instead, the company says that repair wait times have grown at some of their busiest retail stores, and that they are trying to expand their reach. Pilot testing started over a year ago and there are already a few machines operating at third-party repair centers in the Bay Area, London, Shanghai and Singapore.
This will be especially welcome in countries where Apple doesn’t have an official retail presence, and authorized resellers sometimes have to ship units back to the U.S. for the trickiest fixes such as problems related to technologies like 3D Touch and the Touch ID sensor. As Reuters explains, for security reasons only Apple’s machine can tell the iPhone's processor to recognize a replacement sensor, without it things like unlocking with your fingerprint and authenticating Apple Pay purchases just wouldn’t work.
While this is good news for consumers, another less optimist theory going around is that Apple is anticipating the rumored glass sandwich design of the next iPhone to break more easily. As noted in our recent review, the Galaxy S8 also features a glass sandwich design, and repair shops are calling it the most fragile phone ever made — not that they don’t welcome the extra business.
A few days ago we also reported that Apple is making its 3D Touch calibration tool available to third party repair shops, although at the time this was believed to be in its early stages and only available to three shops. Nevertheless the changes are a boon for the repair industry.