A German repair shop repaired a sensor on an Apple MacBook that managed to bypass protections put in place by the company to prevent unauthorized third parties from performing such repairs.
Forbes reports that the NotebookNerds team (in Dortmund, Germany) accomplished the feat using a tool (called ‘Nerd.Tool.1’) designed specifically to facilitate a single MacBook repair. That is, the lid sensor (on MacBook Pro and Air) that detects if the laptop is closed.
If that lid sensor fails, the MacBook owner will have to suffer with a laptop that no longer detects that the lid is closed (and therefore stays on, without turning off the screen and wasting battery, when it should be conserving power). .
Although a duff sensor can be cured by removing, for example, corrosion, if corrosion is present, the sensor may need to be replaced. The problem is that it is not as simple as removing the sensor that does not work and installing a new one.
Even if you are able to perform that repair, Apple has a system whereby some components (like this sensor) are paired to the logic board and require a special calibration tool to ensure the new sensor is accepted (or works). . completely (it may work at first glance, but certain features don’t). Apple uses that tool, of course, and provides it to certified repair shops, but beyond that, third-party repair teams don’t have access to it.
Basically, NotebookNerds has created their own version of this tool which, according to the report, works to enable lid sensor replacement. Although it must be said, experts are surprised that this solution can be applied.
Forbes spoke with Ricky Panesar, founder of iCorrect (a repair company), who said of the manipulated tool: “We all thought that [lid angle sensor] “It was paired with the logic board in a way that you couldn’t copy the data… but it was able to copy that data, which is cool.”
Note that it only works for this repair, but there is a possibility that the concept could be extended to cover other components that need similar authentication when replaced to function properly.
Analysis: A fairer and more affordable price for repairs?
This is a big problem. Because? Because if tricks and tools like this come into play and actually work to give a replacement part full functionality inside the MacBook, many more repair shops will be able to repair Apple laptops.
And those third-party repair teams that can then step in can save consumers a good amount of money with the prices they offer (which are notoriously high for Apple). And with increased competition for repair work, prices will naturally drop, of course.
However, Apple will not allow this to happen. It will be? Well, the company could certainly take steps to prevent these types of alternative tools in the future. As Ricky Panesar also told Forbes, such tools wouldn’t work with the iPhone 15 because it uses deeper encryption than the MacBook, so Apple could also go that route with its laptops, perhaps.
We can’t imagine Apple will be happy with this development, but on the other hand, the company has relaxed its attitude towards repairs a bit. As Forbes points out, the replaced selfie cameras on iPhones recently brought back some features that were previously disabled. Additionally, in the United States we have seen Apple pledge its support for the right to repair bill in California.
Those kinds of moves could possibly be happening because Apple has received quite a bit of criticism for what it sees as consumer-unfriendly policies in this area (not to mention environmentally unfriendly), and is trying to undo the damage.
As iFixit, another big name in the repair community, recently put it: “Based on how Apple designs their products and the relentless, unparalleled focus on user experience, they could easily be leaders in creating the best self-repair experience in technology.” . However, we don’t see that. Apple needs to do better.”
Well, it is possible that now steps to improve are beginning to filter out, little by little, we hope so. Although Apple’s reaction to this episode could be quite telling in terms of how far we can expect the MacBook maker to go in terms of changing its repair policies.