Samsung Embraces DIY Phone Repairs With iFixit Collaboration

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Many consumer electronics makers have started chanting the sustainability mantra over the past few years. People are more aware of the long-term negative impacts these products can have on the environment and are demanding companies be more responsible for safeguarding the future. After all, these same companies won't be able to make a profit if our entire planet burns in the process. 

As the world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung also has one of the heaviest burdens in reducing the amount of e-waste and carbon emissions its business produces. The company recently revealed such measures, including the use of recycled fishing nets for some of its plastics, but its efforts won't end there. Now the other shoe has dropped, and Samsung is shocking the smartphone market with the announcement that it won't just allow people to repair their own phones, but it will even sell them the replacement parts and tools to make that possible.

Right to repair

This announcement is a huge deal, especially for the "Right to Repair" movement. Sustainability, after all, isn't just about using recycled or recyclable materials, but also about prolonging the life of a product beyond advertised or guaranteed periods, which in the case of electronics, involves being able to repair devices, especially on your own.

Unfortunately, it seems businesses are set up to profit from making phones difficult to repair. From ending support after just two years to expensive first-party or authorized repair services, this "planned obsolescence" has been criticized not just by consumers and advocates but even by lawmakers across different countries. Samsung has started to take big steps away from that status quo by, for example, extending its software support up to four years or so, but this is perhaps its biggest and riskiest step yet.

According to the announcement, owners of certain Samsung phones and tablets in the US will be able to repair those devices on their own. Of course, that would mean nothing if consumers don't have access to the right tools and replacement parts, so Samsung will be providing those, too. Even better, the company will encourage owners to return those used parts so that they can be disposed of responsibly or recycled if possible.

Samsung options

Samsung is the second big smartphone maker to announce such a strong stance on self-repair, with Apple making the first bold statement last November. Samsung's self-repair program hasn't launched yet, but neither has Apple's. The one difference that could go in Samsung's favor is that it has partnered with iFixit to make this happen, and iFixit is one of the biggest and most vocal proponents of the Right to Repair movement, so it will be able to keep Samsung in check.

The catch is that not all devices will be part of this upcoming program. So far, only the Galaxy S20 and S21 phones, as well as the Galaxy Tab S7+, have been named. Hopefully there will be more to come, but the full details on this official self-repair service won't be available until later this summer.

In the meantime, Samsung also reminds its customers that there are a variety of servicing options available to them if they don't have the heart to repair their phones on their own, including having an authorized crew visit them at home.