Getting your iPhone or your MacBook repaired wasn’t always straightforward. I worked in a phone shop before. The biggest problem we had was customers sending phones for repair with Find My iPhone enabled. It completely blocked the repair process. For security reasons. Today, Apple has made “efforts” to make repair easier. Not by choice though. Right to Repair is a massive step forward for tech and customers being able to fix their own complex devices. But Apple is still finding ways to hamper customer rights.
What is Right to Repair?
Right to Repair is a movement that advocates for consumers to have the right to repair their own products. It mainly focused on devices like phones and laptops. One of the key elements is that by repairing your own device, or through an independent repair shop, you shouldn’t lose your warranty.
Ultimately, this should also reduce waste and save consumers money, along with promoting a more sustainable approach to product ownership. The movement’s ambition is to increase the lifespan of a device by 10 years, ultimately reducing e-waste.
In practice, Right to Repair requires manufacturers to provide repair information, tools, and spare parts to the general public to make all of this possible. The movement is currently gaining momentum, with some countries and states proposing and passing legislation to ensure that consumers have the right to repair their products.
Apple’s T2 Chips
Apple’s latest MacBooks launched with the T2 chip. The T2 chip was launched in 2018 and is a custom Apple security chip providing several key functions, including:
- Secure Boot where the chip verifies that the Mac’s operating system and bootloader are genuine and have not been tampered with. This helps to prevent malicious software from infecting the Mac.
- The T2 chip encrypts the Mac’s storage and protects sensitive data, even if the Mac is lost or stolen.
These two particular specs have been positioned as security features. However, they also massively impact upon the refurbished market going against the ethos of reducing electrical waste in the world.
T2 Chips and Refurbished MacBooks
While the T2 chip launched in 2018, it’s only now that these devices are entering the refurbished market en masse. The T2 chips make it impossible for refurbishers to return the device to its original factory settings. This hinders its reselling potential within the digital circular economy. The result is a massive number of MacBooks being disposed of as waste or sold for a low price as scrap, contributing to the growing problem of electronic waste around the world.
Peter Windischhofer, co-founder of Refurbed, believes the use of T2 Chips “further highlights Apple’s disregard for the refurbishment market and the efforts that are going towards the right-to-repair movement”.
There’s a balance that needs to be struck here. Security is obviously important, but so too is the circular economy. In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in “trade-in” offers at phone launches. The reason for this, in my eyes, is removing phones from the secondary market to increase need to purchase. It’s just not sustainable and so things like this need to be addressed.
As a consumer, there is one thing you can do. Don’t buy an Apple T2 MacBook. There are plenty of adequate devices out there that mean you don’t need to buy and Apple product. At least until they sort this issue.