Have you ever gotten a flat tire on your car, and instead of just fixing it, or getting a new tire you just go buy a new car? I didn’t think so…because most people have the money to get a tire fixed, or a new one put on, but not everyone has the funds to just go purchase a new car. The same can be said of your technology.
In recent years a movement has started called Right to Repair, which essentially offers you the ability to either repair the device yourself, or take it to a technician to have it repaired without much difficulty. Several manufacturers have made it difficult to do this, and instead are making it near impossible to get parts for your device, or even making the devices dangerous to repair, to ward off technicians with advance technical knowledge. Additionally, with Right to Repair parts are generally sourced, recycled, refurbished, and rebuilt to be reused in other devices, driving down what’s known as e-waste. E-waste is simply a pile of old smartphones, computers, tablets, and whatever else that are broken in some fashion and are just thrown away. That being said there are manufacturers in the industry that are beginning to build their platforms around right to repair, and are gaining traction amongst tech focused people, and DIYers who are fed up with paying for that expensive Apple or Samsung extended warranty.
Recently Linus Sebastian, a popular Youtuber who runs the channel Linus Tech Tips, introduced the world to a product that hadn’t gained wide notoriety, and explained the ins and outs of this product. This product is a laptop, with fully modular components, that are easy to repair, and replace, clearly labelled, and even include slide out components, and high quality elements, such as a mechanical keyboard, an HD display and more. While most computers are already fairly repairable, this is a huge departure from machines that are simply put together by manufacturers, thrown in a box, and shipped to your nearest Best Buy, and an even bigger departure from Apple’s Macbook Series laptops. This wonderful machine is called the Framework Laptop. Now the laptop comes in a couple of different models one that comes pre-built and another that comes as a DIY edition. Personally going through the laptop building process on the website, it’s clear to see that everything is crazy customizable. You can pick your processor, you can choose whether or not you want a pre-installed Operating System, and you can pick the components that are your “ports” on the laptop. The selection with this product is amazing, and quite frankly, if you’re in the market for a new laptop, you should definitely consider this one.
All things being equal however, laptops aren’t the only area that is impacted by a lack of Right to Repair. It used to be a fairly simple process to pop open your iPhone 5C and swap out the battery, camera, home button, or replace a screen if you wanted to. Nowadays, it’s become nearly impossible to even put a new battery in your phone without having to break out some kind of heat gun, or hot plate. As we know, phones come standard with Lithium Ion batteries, which will over time, inevitably fail. Batteries do have a shelf life, and Lithium Ion batteries are no exception. Ever since starting my business, I have heard countless customers tell me “I wish phones were still easy to swap a battery on, you used to be able to just pop the back cover, and put a new one in.” While this is true of Android phones, it hasn’t ever really been the case for iPhone users. Well…believe it or not, there’s now also a right to repair cell phone, that makes it simple to replace components to a certain point as well.
This phone is called the Fairphone, and while it’s not widely available in the US, time should fix that. While you will sacrifice some features such as wireless charging, you can interchange most components on the phone without any issues. For example, right now I’m having to resort to only wireless charging my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 5G, simply because the charge port has failed. No liquid damage, and I haven’t been hard on the phone. I could send the phone in for warranty repair, but that would mean wiping my phone, sending it in, waiting two weeks until it’s done, getting it back, and then setting it all up again. To me…that process wasn’t worthwhile, simply because it takes away my ability to use everything I need to, and it’s annoying. However, if I had the Fairphone, I could have easily ordered a new USB-C charge port, popped off the back cover, and had a new one in it within about 15 minutes. These are the kinds of situations that make owning a device from a company that believes in right to repair, worthwhile.
As a repair guy in the tech industry, I love seeing devices that are possible to repair, but that is trending downward as we move forward into the future. If you’re interested in fixing some of your own devices, or are tech focused, and want to learn, iFixit is a website that encourages repair of different devices, and has a tear down guide, for several popular devices. iFixit also provides repairability scores, and difficulty ratings so you can see just how tough it could be to repair your device. If you’re loyal to Apple, and you’re debating getting a new machine, I would strongly advise you to move toward that AppleCare plan they’re trying to sell. Every apple device has proprietary(built and manufactured by Apple) components, that you likely won’t be able to get elsewhere, and it will save you the hassle of paying for expensive parts.
Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated with any of the products listed above. The views and opinions expressed are solely the views of Brandon Gordon the owner of BG Tech Repair, and no funds or incentives were exchanged as a result of this article.