The makers of electronics devices, such as smartphones, laptops and tablets are launching the latest range of hi-tech gadgets to make life more entertaining, easier, and safer. However, the downside of buying these gadgets is most products are difficult to repair.
Simply put, top electronics brands make it extremely difficult to fix their devices by adding proprietary regulations. In most cases, consumers have no option but to get a new device than repair the existing one.
Consumers often notice their device starts slowing down, screens are getting stuck, and more. It is because the makers stop updating the software of relatively older models to bring the focus on their latest ones.
This practice by manufacturers costs consumers a lot of money and the planet plenty of carbon footprints. A report by PIRG shows that Americans spend nearly $40 billion every year for not being able to repair their devices.
Consumers could save $330 per year by repairing their electronics on their own or going to independent repair shops.
Anyone who uses a smartphone can recall how easy it is to replace a device, but not so much when it comes to repairing it.
Consumers have encountered the industry practice of glueing the components together. Also, design complexities have made modern electronic devices harder to repair.
In the case of smartphones, more than 70 per cent have batteries that are nearly impossible or difficult to remove due to the use of adhesives and multiple screws.
For example, devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S8 smartphone and Apple’s MacBook Pro have batteries permanently attached to their device panels, and the only way to repair them is to replace them altogether.
The US lawmakers will soon introduce the “Right to Repair” legislation for consumers. This law will allow consumers to repair electronic devices, vehicles, and agriculture equipment at independent repair shops.
In the US, the authorities will roll out the "Right to Repair" bill in more than 30 states. Advocates of this legislation hope that this law will remove the challenges consumers are facing regarding fixing their devices.
Some manufacturers such as HP and Dell have already started making their devices easily repairable by increasing the availability of their repair manuals and spare parts.
Google has an in-store repair program for Pixel phones. The company offers support options for in- or out-of-warranty damage.
The availability of the repair option will depend on the warranty status of the customers’ phones and location.
To get their Pixel phones fixed, customers can either visit the nearest authorised service provider or mail the device.
After inspecting the device, the service will ask for final approval from the customer before they start the repair.
Cosmetic damages like scratches are not repairable. If the service provider finds that a device has only cosmetic damages, they will return it to the customer unrepaired.
Although Samsung devices are not easy to repair for customers, the manufacturer offers service packs that come with genuine parts. These packs allow customers to fix certain components of their Samsung smartphones.
Let’s assume you drop your phone and the screen cracks. Samsung says that a screen replacement may cost between $165 and $510 depending on the phone model. For the fold or flip models in the Z Series, the cost of repair could be up to $800 at an authorised Samsung Service Centre.
Another option is buying a Samsung Service Pack that might cost around $255. After buying the service pack, either you can repair the device yourself or give it to an independent repair shop, as they will have access to genuine parts instead of substitutes, which are not as good as the real ones.
HP has already taken a big step to help its customers troubleshoot issues or repair their devices. On the online HP Parts store, customers can find the exact part they require for their devices, such as batteries, power cords, AC adaptors, print heads, and fusers.
The company has also made free repair documentation accessible to customers. There are also a series of HP Support videos available on YouTube, which show the steps to remove and replace parts of desktops and laptops.
Recently, Dell has introduced a prototype design concept named Luna that helps to reduce the size and number of components on a computer. The display shows only a few layers. For example, the motherboard of a computer takes up the maximum energy to manufacture. With Luna, it is now 75 per cent smaller with fewer parts.
Also, accessing the inside of a computer needs removing only four screws instead of many. The keyboard comes out easily, if only the keyboard needs repair.
Recently, Microsoft has agreed to enable its customers to get their devices repaired independently. The company has stated that they will review the benefits of the right to repair and work further on the findings. They have also come up with a video that shows how to open their Surface Laptop SE and replace its key parts, including the battery and speaker.
Other than Microsoft, Apple also announced the option of self-service repair late last year. Before this, only technicians within Apple’s network were authorised to repair its devices. Now, the self-service option will enable consumers to get genuine Apple spare parts and tools, so they can fix their devices themselves.
It means sometime in 2022, Apple customers can access spare parts for iPhone 12 and iPhone 13, such as the battery, the iPhone display, and camera. Additional repairs are likely to be available at a later date.
Despite all these encouraging updates, it is ideal for consumers to invest in durable electronic products that will not make you shell out large amounts for repair down the line.