Someone Uploaded What Look to Be Apple’s Internal iPhone Repair Videos

What appear to be 11 Apple videos describe repair procedures, show special tools, and reference specific material.

|
Jul 23 2018, 3:19pm

Apple doesn’t want its customers to repair their own devices. Its phones and laptops require specialty tools to open and repair and sometimes pushes software updates that disable features on phones repaired with aftermarket parts. So it’s probably not going to like that someone has uploaded what appear to be 11 of its internal repair videos to YouTube.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but two sources in the repair community familiar with Apple’s repair policies told Motherboard these are indeed genuine Apple how-to videos. The videos themselves have an Apple copyright on them, the host references internal Apple documentation and diagnostic tests, and, most importantly, the videos use proprietary Apple disassembly and repair tools that Motherboard has previously confirmed are manufactured by and are exclusive to Apple.

Arman Haji, who uploaded the videos to his YouTube channel, told Motherboard he initially saw them posted to Twitter. "When I saw these videos I downloaded them out of curiosity, and when his account got suspended, I wanted people to still see them, so I uploaded them to YouTube," Haji told Motherboard in an email.

The videos on how to open an iPhone X and replace its battery are particularly interesting, and show that the DIY repair community has gotten extremely good at reverse-engineering Apple’s official procedures. The instructor walks the repair tech through the process of opening the case on the iPhone X in a way that closely mirrors the process that sites such as iFixit have been doing for a few years now. The video starts by instructing the tech to remove the screws near the lighting port, then inserting the iPhone X into a device that uses suction cups to pry the screen away from the body while the tech uses a small tool to cut the adhesive along the seams at the edge of the device. Apple’s suction cup tool looks like a bulkier version of iFixit’s iSclack tool—a suction cup device that customers can use to disassemble and repair their own device.

The video about replacing the Iphone X’s battery is remarkably similar to the iFixit video of the same procedure. In both videos, the tech pulls the adhesive tabs away from the battery and uses tweezers to roll the adhesive while gently pulling. The Apple video emphasizes the importance of the roll and tug technique by repeating it several times. iFixit’s video emphasizes this by calling it the “pull and twist” and comments on the specific sound it should be making. Apple’s internal video plays the distinct stretching sound loudly over footage of the pull and twist to ensure the repair tech knows what to listen for.

What’s incredible here is not that Apple’s internal videos leaked, but that the third-party repair teams have done such an incredible job replicating its procedures without having seen these videos or having access to Apple’s tools. Sites such as iFixit have effectively reverse-engineered many of Apple’s techniques without ever laying eyes on this kind of documentation.