Justice

The Way Companies Force You to Constantly Buy a New Phone

What's the only thing more annoying than cracking your iPhone screen? Probably the inconvenience and high cost to fix or replace it, which, it turns out, is not an accident. You can blame Apple.

If it feels like Apple is making it hard to fix your phone on purpose, you may be on to something.

The Huffington Post took a deep dive last week into Apple's history of lobbying against laws that would make it easier to fix broken phone screens, replace batteries, and make other repairs.

Huffington Post editor Damon Beres and reporter Andy Campbell explained:

"Right to repair amendments would require device manufacturers like Apple or Microsoft to make repair information and associated software updates available to independent businesses or individuals. Currently they provide this only to select businesses. Essentially, such legislation would free you from needing to mail your busted tablet back to the manufacturer for repairs because a shop down the street would have access to the information needed to fix the device, likely at a reduced cost. (There’s a precedent for this in an automotive right to repair bill passed in Massachusetts in 2014.)

"A vote for right to repair measures is also a vote for good recycling practices. If Apple were legally bound to release its schematics, for instance, repair shops and recyclers alike would be able to utilize every piece of a gadget and reuse them in refurbished products."

Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts, and New York have considered amending laws to include the “right to repair” devices, but Apple has historically opposed such legislation.

"It has certainly come to my attention that Apple is opposed to this bill," Massachusetts state Rep. Claire D. Cronin, a "right to repair" advocate, told The Huffington Post.

Apple told the The Huffington Post it would not comment on pending legislation. The Consumer Technology Association, a trade organization to which Apple belongs, reportedly voiced its opposition to the Minnesota bill in a 2015 statement. The CTA argued that the bills would allow repair shops to make counterfeit devices.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, the executive director of the Repair Association, which supports the bill, didn't find this concern particularly valid.

“Repair is not modification of copyrighted software — it is physical repair of physical problems using physical tools,” he said in an email to The Huffington Post.

If you think that's bad, wait until you hear where your old phone may be headed.

A broken phone doesn't just diminish your bank account and leave you off the grid, it also creates electronic waste that harms the environment. And much electronic waste is illegally shipped overseas and handled in sweat shops that employ children, the Basel Action Network said in a May report based on a two-year study that tracked electronic waste.

"Of major concern was evidence that some of this e-waste made its way to rudimentary workshops in developing countries where it was disassembled by low-paid workers, sometimes children," Techly reported.

You can view the phones tracked in the BAN study in an MIT interactive map and read the full report on Apple's lobbying efforts and the fight for the "right to repair" on The Huffington Post.

ATTN: has reached out to Apple for a response to this story. We'll add their comment when we get it.

[h/t The Huffington Post]