Apple Providing Select Repair Shops With iPhone Calibration Machine For Quicker Turnaround

Getting an iPhone repaired at select Apple-authorized repair shops is about to get a lot faster for customers.

Apple's proprietary iPhone calibration machine via Motherboard

ComputerCare, a computer repair shop in Santa Clara, California, today announced that it has been selected as one of only three Apple Authorized Service Providers in the United States to participate in a new pilot program that will allow it to manage iPhone repair and calibration completely onsite.

As part of this pilot program, ComputerCare and two other yet to be named repair shops have received a specialized and proprietary calibration machine from Apple to ensure that iPhone repairs are fully compliant with Apple's specifications and security requirements for features such as Touch ID and Multi-Touch.

ComputerCare said the calibration machine is compatible with the iPhone 6s and newer, although Apple has been using the machines since as early as 2013. The calibration process is said to take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

With an in-house calibration machine, ComputerCare said it will be able to drastically speed up repair times for its customers, as it will no longer need to ship repaired iPhones to Apple for final testing and calibration.
"We already manage iPhone repairs at our facilities, but because of the devices' specialized security features, the current process requires them to be shipped to Apple for final testing and calibration before being returned to customers," said Georgia Rittenberg, President of ComputerCare. "Having a calibration machine onsite helps us to remove that extra step in the process and dramatically reduces turnaround times."
Apple already has iPhone calibration machines in the back of every Apple Store, enabling Genius Bar employees to perform same-day repairs for most issues. But, not every customer lives near an Apple Store, so expanding the machines to select third-party repair shops is convenient.

If the pilot program is successful, Apple will presumably consider providing a larger number of Apple Authorized Service Providers with calibration machines in the future. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tag: AASP

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Apple Offering Free Smart Keyboard Repairs Under New 3-Year Policy

Apple has initiated a new three-year service policy for the Smart Keyboard for both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.


Apple has determined that some Smart Keyboards may experience "functional issues" during use, such as the Smart Connector not working or certain keys sticking, repeating, or not responding, according to an internal memo distributed to Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers last week.

Apple says it will service any qualifying Smart Keyboard free of charge within three years of the date it was originally purchased.

We recommend affected customers call an Apple Store to schedule a Genius Bar appointment or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to initiate the repair process. Affected customers can also contact Apple support by phone, online chat, or email by selecting iPad > iPad Accessories on this page.

Due to the newness of this service policy, some Apple support employees may be unfamiliar with its existence, in which case we recommend escalating your request to a senior AppleCare advisor.


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Apple May Replace Your Broken Fourth-Gen iPad With an iPad Air 2 When Necessary

Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers now have the option of replacing a customer's broken fourth-generation iPad with an iPad Air 2, according to an internal memo distributed by Apple last week.


An excerpt of the memo obtained by MacRumors:
Starting March 30, iPad 4th generation whole unit repairs may be substituted to iPad Air 2 models. Apple's repair and order management tool will indicate for each repair if a substitution will take place. Please note the substitute part’s color and capacity to ensure the customer understands what their replacement iPad whole unit will be.
The fourth-generation iPad was released in November 2012, so when a customer needs a replacement model, it's likely easier now for Apple to just give them a newer and more widely available iPad Air 2 in most cases.

Not every broken fourth-generation iPad will be replaced with an iPad Air 2. The decision will ultimately be decided on a case-by-case basis, likely depending upon availability of each tablet in the affected customer's region.

Tag: AASP

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Apple Says Third-Party iPhone Screen Repairs No Longer Fully Void Your Warranty

iPhones that have undergone any third-party screen repair now qualify for warranty coverage, as long as the issue being fixed does not relate to the display itself, according to an internal memo distributed by Apple today. MacRumors confirmed the memo's authenticity with multiple sources.


Previously, an iPhone with a third-party display was not eligible for any authorized repairs under warranty.

When a customer with an iPhone that has a third-party display seeks a repair for a non-display issue, Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers have been advised to inspect the device for any fraud or tampering, and then swap out the device or replace the broken part based on Apple's in-warranty pricing.

iPhones with third-party displays must still be within their warranty coverage period, whether it be Apple's standard 1-year manufacturer's warranty or extended AppleCare coverage, in order for warranty service to be honored.

If the iPhone is out of warranty, or the repair involves a display-related issue, customers will be offered the option to pay Apple's flat rate out-of-warranty pricing. If a customer declines this out-of-warranty pricing, then Apple Authorized Service Providers are instructed to decline service altogether.

If the presence of any third-party part causes the repair to be unsuccessful or breaks the iPhone, Apple said customers will be required to pay the out-of-warranty cost to replace the third-party part, or the entire device if necessary, in order to resolve the issue that the iPhone was initially brought in for.

If a customer wants to pay for an Apple genuine display to replace their third-party display, Apple Authorized Service Providers have been instructed to quote the typical out-of-warranty price for a new display. Apple said AppleCare+ will not cover third-party display or battery repairs.

Apple Authorized Service Providers are still instructed to decline service for any iPhone with a functional failure related to a third-party aluminum enclosure, logic board, battery, Lightning connector, headphone jack, volume buttons, mute switch, sleep/wake button, and certain microphones.

MacRumors has confirmed that the policy applies to repairs in the United States and Canada, while other regions are likely included.

Tags: warranty, AASP

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Apple Resellers and Service Providers Speak Out Following Simply Mac Closures

GameStop last week announced it is closing a number of non-productive Simply Mac locations throughout the United States, less than four years after acquiring and expanding the Apple Authorized Reseller and Service Provider, which effectively serves as a third-party Apple Store in smaller markets.

apple_premium_reseller
Following the reports, we received a tip from a disgruntled Apple Authorized Service Provider owner who said the underlying issues prompting Simply Mac's downsizing are "far deeper" than it would seem. He noted his own AASP is closing because Apple has "slowly strangled" him on margins and with "free labor" demands.

Another longtime Apple Authorized Dealer and Service Provider told us that AASPs have been "under siege" for years. The person, who wishes to remain anonymous, said profit margins are "appallingly low" and that Apple views its authorized service partners as "nothing more than glorified TV repairmen."

"I am sad to say that I do not see this changing," the person said. "Apple is highly aware of our concerns and do not seem to care. As an Apple reseller for over 20 years, I thought that when Apple became successful we would participate in that success, but we did not," the person added.

Given the polarizing comments from a few, we decided to reach out to a number of Apple's authorized sales and service partners in the United States and Canada to see if there is any validity to the claims.

A number of the Apple Authorized Resellers and Service Providers we spoke to refuted the allegations, noting they are stable if not growing, but we did learn that Apple has made one adjustment in particular that might explain the pressure felt by some sales and service partners—especially smaller ones with fewer sales.

Since August 2015, Apple has lowered its profit margins for resellers, requiring them to pay more upfront for products. Apple then rebates the difference as part of the monthly Business Development Funds checks it sends to resellers, but this method requires resellers to wait longer to be fully paid.

In other words, while the margins did not change overall, resellers are now forced to pay more upfront for Apple products to sell, which restricts cash flow that could otherwise be used for day-to-day operations, employee wages, and other expenses. For smaller resellers, the change can be particularly burdensome.

Meanwhile, one reseller believes Apple's arguably lackluster 2016 was a contributing factor to its own year-over-year sales decline.

On the service side, one person told us they "don't know that there is any truth" to the statement about Apple demanding "free labor," which a separate source said is likely an exaggeration for certain items that Apple used to compensate resellers for but now considers "non-revenue repair."

"I would not say that Apple has been demanding any kind of free labor," a service manager told MacRumors. "However, they are increasingly sending customers to us for iPhone repairs, which do not pay very well. We get paid more for a ten minute Mac repair than we do for an hour-long iPhone one."

"I am pleased to say that Apple really values their service partners and has increased our compensation for warranty work," another reseller said. "If you can achieve Premium Service Provider status, you get some nice perks along with higher compensation. While not perfect, Apple service really seems to care about us and is constantly trying to make things better for us."

MacMedics, an Apple Authorized Premium Service Provider with two locations in Maryland in Severna Park and Lanham, and another in Philadelphia, agreed to comment on the record to shine positive light on Apple.

"We're doing very well, we've expanded, and we opened a new pure retail location in 2015. Apple give us great support and guidance," said Dana Stibolt, President of MacMedics. "We're very encouraged by the upward trends over the last year, and in fact we're hiring more staff for all locations for both in-lab and on-site."

The other sources asked not to be identified. Apple and GameStop did not respond to requests for comment.


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