The Right To Device Repairability: Do We Really Need It?
Whether we'd like to admit it or not, we've become dependent on our smartphones to the point that it's safe to say that our smartphones ...
23:03 28 July 2019
... have become extensions of our bodies. Not a single day passes by that we do not hold our phone. It's often the first thing we check in the morning and the last thing we check before we go to sleep. But when our smartphones are this important to us, why is it then that over the course of recent years, smartphones have become increasingly difficult to repair?
Based on the premise that we need our smartphones, wouldn't it make perfect sense to design them in such a way that repair would be easy? Yet, phone manufacturers seem to think otherwise, especially with design elements like metal-and-glass mergers, all-screen front panels, bezels as thin as they can possibly be, motorized cameras, indiscernible points of access, and non-swappable batteries.
Yes, smartphones are sleeker than ever and they pack a lot of power; some flagships are even just as powerful or even more powerful than laptops. But is all of that really worth sacrificing durability, longevity, and repairability for? It's because of these design choices that we might as well also consider our smartphones as jewelry. Because these design choices mostly serve to make the smartphone look good. They don't exactly add any more functionality to our smartphones.
The Rationale Behind The Right To Repair
With smartphones as fragile as they are right now, wouldn't it make perfect sense to balance this out by making them easy to repair?
Unfortunately, that's not the case. The worst part of it all is that smartphones also cost a lot to repair. Just take a look at how much it costs to have an iPhone screen replaced.
Most people would say that these prices are extortion and that the only reason why smartphones are that expensive to repair is because of how they're designed. Some would even go as far as to say that this is planned obsolescence at work.
But, There's A Good Reason Why You Shouldn't Be Able To Fix Your Smartphone Yourself
While it's easy to secure online components for most electronics, the difficulty — and sometimes danger — lies in the execution of repairs as well as the compatibility of replacement parts.
And while we can say that the reason why smartphones are difficult to repair in the first place is because of their complex design, the complex design is a necessary evil. It is a measure that helps combat counterfeiting. These complex designs are difficult to mimic and it's easy to tell apart fakes from phones that are genuine.
Can you imagine if every phone looked the same, to the point where it would be difficult to discern replicas from the original phone?
Now consider paying full retail price for a counterfeit phone because the design was indiscernible from that of an authentic product. Wouldn't that be a scary thought?
And even as we complain about how smartphones are difficult to repair, we need to consider the fact that we don't really have better alternatives. As previously mentioned, it's a necessary evil and the main thing to do here is to learn to take care of our phones, these little treasures we have.