February 21, 2024

To my surprise, the last step was the most infuriating. When we turned the phone on again, a warning message said the battery and screen had been replaced by unknown parts. This is annoying because the battery is a genuine part ordered from Apple. The screen is also real because it’s from another iPhone.

To complete the repair, however, Apple requires anyone using a self-repair program to run a “system configuration,” which involves calling a remote customer support representative to confirm the part’s serial number and pair it with the phone. Only then did the repair pass authentication, making the warning message go away.

Apple’s self-repair website directed me to an online app to chat with a representative. There, a staff member named Carlos asked me to plug in the phone and hold down three buttons to enter diagnostic mode.

I tried this step several times. It’s okay.

Carlos pasted the same instructions with the button. I tried it again. Then again. I was only able to start diagnostic mode after consulting online forums where someone posted the different steps.

After 30+ minutes, we were done. The warning message about the unknown battery disappeared.

Apple says it welcomes feedback as it continues to develop a self-healing program. So this is mine. Like any new tech gizmo, this app is a fledgling product with pros and cons and the potential to get better.

There are some benefits that lead to higher quality, cheaper repairs for everyone. Apple’s tools are now available to all independent repair technicians, including Mr. Taiyab. (He said he might buy a sealed iPhone from Apple.) Now everyone can read the official instructions on how to do the repair, which takes the guesswork out of it.

But the whole experience was far from simple, and even for those who tried it, Apple exerted too much control by requiring its repairs to be approved. If we install Apple parts, like a working screen from another iPhone, they should work — period.

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