Written By: Cassandra Bondie

The war between Android and Apple users has been ongoing for more than a decade. Both companies, however, are guilty of manufacturing cell phones that are nearly impossible for consumers or third-party repair shops to fix without the proper tools.

This year, Apple has taken new preventative steps. According to lobbying records in the state of New York, Apple has openly opposed a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair electronics devices.

Like other businesses responsible for developing and selling electronics such as lawn mowers, tablets, or automobiles, cell phone companies encourage or require their customers to buy into strict warranties. These warranties bar users from having their phones repaired on their own time. Instead, they must return to an Android or Apple store.

For iPhone users, the problem has become more frustrating as new phones are introduced to the market. In some states, designated iPhone repair shops are hours away from consumers’ homes. The trip can cost a significant amount of time, money, and effort – all of which could be avoided if users had the right (and the necessary tools) to repair their phones at home or in third-party shops.

Unfortunately, attempting to repair a smartphone in either of these venues while under warranty could result in a warranty lapse. This means your phone will no longer be eligible for replacement or repair, should something go seriously wrong. That includes manufacturing problems beyond your control.

Lawmakers are currently attempting to pass a bill called the “Fair Repair Act.” This law would require electronic device manufacturers to sell replacement parts and tools to the public, in addition to prohibiting software locks that restrict repairs.

Records show that companies and organizations spent more than three hundred and fifty thousand dollars to obtain lobbyists in New York. These lobbyists are expected to fight the legislation and were hired by companies like Lexmark, Verizon, Toyota, Caterpillar, Asurion, Medtronic, and Apple.

On the flip side, just over five thousand dollars have been allocated by the Digital Right to Repair Coalition for lobbyists in favor of the bill.

It doesn’t help that CTIA (Consumer Technology Association), a representative of U.S. wireless communications, is also lobbying against the Fair Repair Act. CTIA serves as a voice for thousands of electronics manufacturers and is responsible for an annual cell phone industry convention at which small vendors are required to pay nearly five thousand dollars per booth to hold an exhibit.

This open refusal to share information, technology, and knowledge is disheartening for consumers and small repair shops alike. Consumers are forced to violate their warranties for convenient repairs – or else required to pay hundreds of dollars for a repair that would cost dozens at a third-party shop.

Lawmakers will continue to fight for consumers’ right to repair their own electronic devices without penalty or financial hardship. They believe purchasing a smartphone shouldn’t serve as a commitment to a brand or company, and many consumers agree.
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