Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

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.

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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

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74 comments
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  • Typical

    Apple has a history of discouraging its customers from working on their own devices. It's stupid, senseless, and only serves to reduce Apple's warranty expenses by giving them a reason to deny warranty service when someone inevitably gets around it.

    Stupid.
    use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @macadam <br><br>You said it!
      wjohnatty@...
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @macadam So you are saying that Apple should not void the warranty when somebody opens up their iPhone? How is it any different when another company voids their warranty when the product was open? Is it simply that it's Apple that you have a problem with? I have had more than a few computers over the years that had sticker on them that if removed or torn (required to open the case) then the warranty was voided. Where was your outrage then? Was that not an issue but different screws are?
      non-biased
  • It didn't stop from taking a part a Bondi iMac

    Way back when we had the kids radio show we disassembled a factory fresh iMac that Apple PR mailed us. They made it hard to take apart but that didn't stop us - we modified a few tools. Of course being read the riot act weeks later by Apple PR wasn't fun but it was worth it.
    pcookcapecod
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @pcookcapecod

      Hey Peter... Great story. Kind of harkens back to the original 128k/512/Plus/SE toaster enclosures which had to be cracked with a special "case cracking" tool. Looked like something you'd use to break into a car!

      Good times!

      - Jason
      Jason D. O'Grady
  • Control freaks at Apple

    Talk about crazy control freak(s)! And so very eco-friendly, too. Don't repair, just throw it away and buy a new one.

    If Jobs weren't filthy rich, he'd be in a straightjacket.
    Ronny102
    • He is in a straightjacket

      @Ronny102 ....it called liver failure
      amasys
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @Ronny102 How exactly is this eco-friendly or not? Is your Apple hate so strong that you don't have the common sense to realize that the screws can be removed, repair done and screws replaced? Sure, if you don't go to Apple for the repair or get the special tool somewhere then the screws will possibly be ruined and need to be replaced but not the device. Take the hatred blinders off and get a clue before responding next time.
      non-biased
      • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

        @non-biased, have you say anything except targeting people as "haters"? I wonder if you're "Genius" making extra hours or jobless transversite outsourced by jobs over-seas.
        mic602
  • Meh.

    So you'll have to buy a new screwdriver. No big deal. It'll be like when torx was first being used. Many manufactuers use special tools (just check out the Ducati catalog), they just want to deter casual fiddlers.
    lostarchitect
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @lostarchitect No. It will just come with the battery, or whatever else mod or replacement part you buy. This is just like plastic pry tools and cheap phillips that come with everything you buy now. Stupid pretty well sums this up.
      blueskip
  • Hit Whore Headline

    Hack journalism strikes again. As a ZD contributor I doubt that Mr. O'Grady has an inside track to Apple. You play freely with your journalistic license sir, perhaps it should be pulled. Is egomania required to work for ZD, it would seam so.
    thomcarl
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      [i]Is egomania required to work for ZD, it would seam so.[/i]

      Speaking of egomania...
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • Lack of intelligence show tinfoil mentality

    Anybody even bothered to check if this type of screw is lighter while providing structurally strength? <br><br>Ever wonder why aerospace industry rarely uses plain old phillips head screws?
    wackoae
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @wackoae Yeah because your iPhone is going to take off on rocket boosters and .0001G is going to make a difference. Rationalizing it that way makes no sense. Especially because pentalobe screws, which are a less generic part, and thus made in lower quantities cost more. Apple service personnel have also been directed to replace existing philips screws with pentalobe screws when servicing equipment without the user's consent.
      snoop0x7b
      • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

        @snoop0x7b

        You beat me to it. There is NO rationalization for this because it's irrelevant. Apple's products are not going to fly in the air, magically or otherwise. The aerospace industry is so grossly irrelevant that it's laughable to read.

        Anybody looking at Apple's prices for RAM, then looking at everyone else's, and noting Apple uses the same off-the-shelf PC compatible hardware -- it's about vendor lock-in and Apple's upgrade prices, for a Mac Pro or MacBook Pro, redefine "obscene".

        I'm giving up OS X. Software compatibility issues (e.g. Bryce 7 crashing in OS x when rendering yet the same file renders without a single hiccup in Windows 7 64-bit) alone was bad enough, but this form of hardware lock-in, over GENERIC off-the-shelf parts, just to spruce up their bottom line, ranks up there fairly high in the "unethical" category.
        HypnoToad72
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @wackoae

      Have you ever worked in the aerospace industry? I have. I have also installed and removed uncounted Phillips head screws from various aircraft, from general aviation to military aircraft.

      Know what you're talking about before, erm, talking about it. Kthxbai.
      M.R. Kennedy
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @wackoae the single slot screws were replaced by philips and then torx for their better handling characteristics. try to tighten slot screw with power driver, then try to do the same with phillips in hard to reach spot. you'll screw the screws with the bit. but if you try it with torx, the bit remains well seated in his groove.
      pentalobe? this one is designed for one reason. to tell you: "screw yourself"
      mic602
  • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

    No matter what they do, Apple cannot stop people from opening up their devices. The devices no longer belong to Apple once sold, and at least here in America, people can do whatever they want to with their own property. Apple is the true "Evil Empire" in corporate America.
    bionicbub
    • RE: Apple switching screws to thwart third parties, tinkerers

      @bionicbub - I never thought I'd say anybody could outdo Microsoft. Apple (and arguably Google) both take Microsoft's place, with ease.

      I remember a cool commercial, about a little guy fighting a big pushy company. The year was 1984... oh dear, it was an Apple commercial...
      HypnoToad72