You can now pore over repairability scores for Apple iPhones and MacBooks on Apple’s site. Couple of problems, though. They’re self-reported and still quite mysterious – they’ve been published in line with France’s new repairability rating law – they’re a bit complicated with five categories and plenty of sub-categories. Oh, and, on Apple’s site at least, it’s all in French.
Despite all that, it does give a sense of how Apple rates the repairability of its own products. The scorecards even allow us to rank all currently available iPhones and MacBooks based on their overall repair friendliness. We haven’t included AirPods, the Apple Watch or any manner of other computers and accessories as France’s Repairability Index doesn’t include those products. (The problems with the repairability of AirPods, in particular, have been well documented).
The system, at launch, only requires companies who make five types of products to submit scores: smartphones, laptops, TVs, washing machines and lawnmowers. Products are given a total score out of 10 with 6 out of 10 or higher earning the device a light green icon. You won’t find detailed guidance on replacing a display or battery, for example, but the scores do give you a sense of how easy and affordable it is to either repair the device yourself or pay for parts to be replaced. Google, Samsung and Microsoft have also joined the scheme, making comparisons, limited as they are by some lack of detail, possible.
“Without seeing the companies’ original, detailed score submissions, it can be tricky to figure out how some of the scores come together,” says Kevin Purdy, a writer at the repair guide site iFixit, which consulted on France’s repair index – do read his detailed analysis of Apple’s scores.
“Why does the iPhone 11 have a 0 out of 20 in spare parts pricing, but the iPhone 12 gets 12 out of 20?” he says. “At the least, a zero in any category should be investigated when it comes to the company’s commitment to making a repairable device.”
Long term, iFixit would like to see the index expanded to include more products, but in the shorter term, Purdy wants to push for more transparency on the scores which companies submit about their own products. “It’s hard to believe that the price of a replacement screen for a smartphone is a trade secret,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to find these things, once you know where to look. And we’d like to know if all the points in the replacement parts categories are available to individuals and independent technicians, not just authorised or in-house repair techs.”
iPhone 7: 6.7 out of 10
Finally it’s the iPhone 7’s time to shine. The oldest iPhone covered by the repair index scores the highest overall, earning a light green badge. With identical scores to the 7 Plus and iPhone 8 (below) on documentation, availability of spare parts, the price of spare parts and “critere spécifique” or product-specific criteria (remote support, resets etc), the iPhone 7 pips them on the disassembly score (5.1, which is actually lower than the iPhone 12’s 5.9), specifically the ease of dismantling the three-to-five most common parts that break/break down i.e. how many steps it takes.
iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus: 6.6 out of 10
Another nice light green repairs score for the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. So the iPhone 8, say, is rated higher for the price of spare parts (as in the price-of-parts-to-phone-ratio is lower) – receiving 20 points versus the iPhone 12’s 12 points in this category. The iPhone 12 does get a higher disassembly/ease of repairs rating, though.
iPhone SE (2020): 6.2 out of 10
All of Apple’s 2020 iPhones are self-rated 6 out of 10 or higher – light green wrench icon unlocked – which should come as no surprise. The budget iPhone SE (2020) comes out just on top, purely down to the price ratio of spare parts to the phone itself. Like the iPhone 7, the second gen SE scores lower on ease of disassembly than the flagship model – 4.3 points versus 5.9 for the iPhone 12.
iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro and Pro Max: 6 out of 10
The iPhone 12 range doesn’t come out on top overall, then, but it does have one of the highest disassembly scores of the iPhone models included in the index. Apple shouldn’t sit on its laurels with this 6 score, though. For comparison, the extremely sustainability minded Fairphone 3+phone received an 8.7 out of 10 (not quite enough to get the highest dark green badge), and even Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 scored 8 as its main rating.
“There are some score points specific to Apple and Samsung’s product builds: proprietary screws, number of steps to access certain components,” says Purdy, who points out that Samsung has taken some “repair-friendly steps” in France, such as publishing a free repair manual online.
iPhone X and XS: 4.8 and 4.7 out of 10
The remainder of Apple’s iPhones scores are between 4.5 and 4.8 with the iPhone X top of the pile with 4.8 – all these scores earn Apple a visually irksome yellow badge in France’s repair index.
iPhone 11, 11 Pro and XS Max: 4.6 out of 10
The iPhone 11 receives identical scores to the iPhone 12 in documentation, the availability of spare parts and product-specific assets. Where it falls down is that 0 out of 20 score for the pricing of spare parts. It has also been dinged some points on the number of steps needed during disassembly of the most common components (0.8 points vs 2.5, which Purdy speculates could be battery replacement specifically), though it matches the iPhone 12 on the scores for the kinds of tools and fasteners that are needed.
iPhone XR and 11 Pro Max: 4.5 out of 10
Officially the least repair-friendly iPhones! According to Apple, at least. The iPhone XR gets one of the lowest disassembly scores – 3.4 out of 10 – and matches the iPhone 11 with a 0/20 score on spare parts pricing. The 11 Pro Max goes further, managing a 0/10 score for ease of disassembly versus the 0.8 for the iPhone 11 Pro. Still yellow badges, though, as only an overall rating of 0.5-2 out of 10 on the repair index gets a don’t-buy-this red icon.
MacBook Air 13 (2017): 7 out of 10
As with the iPhones, it’s the oldest MacBook of the lot with the highest score here of 7/10 overall, ahead even of the iPhone 7’s rating. The 2017 MacBook Air achieves 11.3 out of 20 for disassembly, with 6/10s for the number of steps and tools needed. Now, 11.3 out of 20 isn’t what you’d want to see on your Zoom homework, but in the context of the rest of the MacBook cohort, it’s worth pointing out as something of a win. The four-year-old Air does lose points across most of the other categories.
MacBook Air 13 M1 and MBA (2019): 6.5 out of 10
Apple’s newest, shiniest MacBook Air, which runs on its M1 chip, gets a 6.5 out of 10 and a light green badge of approval, too. It currently performs worse than its 2017 ancestor on disassembly (on all three points), availability of spare parts and very slightly on spare parts pricing. If you’re looking for a quick comparison, Microsoft has published its scoresfor a range of its Surface laptops and tablet hybrids – no product scores higher than the 4.1 out of 10 for the Surface Laptop 3 and 4.
MacBook Air 13: 6.4 out of 10
The Intel-powered MacBook Air 13 sits just below the M1 Air with identical scores aside from the ease of disassembly rating. The M1 MBA scores 3.3 out of 10 over the Intel MBA’s 2.7 rating, possibly due to fewer steps as a result of Apple ditching the fan between models.
MacBook Pro 16: 6.3 out of 10
The biggest, beefiest MacBook Pro is one of the Apple products with the longest hoped-for lifespans given the initial investment. The 16-inch MacBook Pro slots in the middle of the pack for MacBook repairs with an uninspiring 5.3 out of 20 for disassembly, but a pretty good score of 16 for the price ratio of repair components.
MacBook Pro 13 (2018): 6.2 out of 10
The highest rated MacBook Pro featured in the repair index is the 2018 model. It beats the M1 MacBook Pro (below) specifically on the pricing of spare parts (15 points versus 9 points), a noticeable trend between Apple’s current-gen tech and its previous models in this scoring system.
MacBook Pro 13: 5.7 out of 10
Next up in the MacBook ranking is Apple’s Intel MacBook Pro 13, again trailing the equivalent current-gen Air. It loses points across the board (apart from the product specific criteria section) but particularly on disassembly and the price ratio of components.
MacBook Pro 13 M1 and MBP 2019: 5.6 out of 10
The M1 MacBook Pro doesn’t fare quite as well as the M1 Air with 5.6 out of 10, joint lowest with the 2019 model. It underperforms the Air in ease of disassembly (across number of steps, tools and fasteners), availability and pricing of spare parts. A disappointing yellow badge here, then. There are some ‘easy points’ to be gained in categories like documentation, though, if Apple will bite.
Remember that, while useful, these aren’t the only repairs scores around with differing priorities depending on who you ask. “The French index does reward companies that only provide parts, manuals, and necessary tools to their authorised repair network are not companies we would reward,” says Purdy. “We’re also looking at devices as they sit in front of us on our teardown table whereas France’s scores incorporate all the things that make a company responsive to a circular economy.”
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