Apple reverses stance on iPhone repairs and will supply parts to independent shops for the first time

Key Points
  • Apple is launching a new program that will give independent repair shops access to parts for common out-of-warranty repairs.
  • The move represents an about-face for Apple, which typically encourages any repairs to be made by its authorized service providers.
  • The program is launching in the U.S. before rolling out to more countries.
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Apple said on Thursday it will start offering independent repair shops parts, tools and guides to help fix broken iPhones.

The new repair program allows big and small repair outfits to sign up and get access to parts for common out-of-warranty repairs, something that was previously restricted to Apple's network of authorized service providers.

The move represents an about-face for Apple, which typically encourages any repairs to be made by its authorized service providers and makes it difficult for users to replace aging or broken parts themselves. Additionally, the company has fought California's proposed right-to-repair bill, which would require companies such as Apple to make repair information and parts available to both device owners and independent repair shops.

Apple said the new program is free to join but that shops will be required to have an Apple-certified technician who has taken a preparatory course provided by the company. Repairs will not be covered by Apple's warranty, and independent providers will have to offer their own warranties for service, an Apple spokesperson told CNBC.

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To start, Apple is launching the program in the U.S. before rolling it out to more countries. The company said it has already conducted successful trials of the program with 20 independent repair businesses in North America, Europe and Asia.

"When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right," Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested."

Apple has received criticism from users and right-to-repair advocates who say the company should make it easier for them to repair their own devices. Most recently, the company faced an uproar after repair experts discovered it was issuing iPhone service alerts when users attempted to swap out their battery for a new one.

The company has taken some steps to change its stance on the matter. In June, Apple announced it would allow all U.S. Best Buy stores to handle some repairs.

-- Kif Leswing contributed to this story.

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