Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

Summary:Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw to discourage end users and third party services from opening its devices.

Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw to discourage end users and third party services from opening its devices.

iFixIt notes that, although it looks similar, it's not a standard Torx screw. Worse, there are no readily available screwdrivers that can remove it. Even iFitIt's own 54-bit driver kit doesn't have the pentalobe-head screwdriver, adding to the frustration.

Pentalobular screws first appeared in the mid-2009 MacBook Pro to prevent you from replacing the the battery and Apple is using a similar screw on the outer case of the current MacBook Air (the primary reason the iFixIt awarded the 11-inch MacBook Air a worst-in-class repairability score of 4 out of 10).

Hackers and modders have resorted to using a 5-pointed philips head driver as a stop-gap measure to remove the pesky pentalobe screws, . It's available (along with replacement philips head screws, natch) iFixIt's $9.99 iPhone 4 liberation kit. (I also recommend iFixIt's iPhone 4 5-point screwdriver ($9.95) and MacBook Air 5-point pentalobe  screwdriver ($12.95) if you like to tinker).

Obviously, it's Apple perogative to do as they choose, but it's like DRM and copy-protection before that, it's not going to stop a determined individual. So, what's the point?

Instead of switching unsuspecting customer's screws, Apple should be focusing on its GSM+CDMA and 4G antennea for the iPhone 5. June is coming up fast and Android has already leapfrogged the iPhone for the #2 spot in mobile market share, behind RIM.

Apple's Diabolical Plan to Screw your iPhone from iFixit on Vimeo.

What's your take on Apple's attempt to restrict access to hardware that you already own?

Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility


Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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