I Tried Apple’s Self-Repair Program With My iPhone. Disaster Ensued.

To my surprise, the final steps were the most infuriating. When we powered on the phone again, a warning message said the battery and screen had been replaced with unknown parts. This was annoying because the battery was a genuine part ordered from Apple. The screen was also authentic, because it came from another iPhone.

Yet to finish the repair, Apple requires anyone who uses the self-repair program to run a “system configuration,” which involves calling a remote customer support representative to confirm the serial number of the part and pair it with the phone. Only then is the repair authenticated, which makes the warning message disappear.

Apple’s self-repair website directed me to an online app to chat with a representative. There, a worker named Carlos asked me to plug in the phone and press and hold three buttons to go into a diagnostics mode.

I tried this step several times. Nothing happened.

Carlos pasted the same instruction with the buttons. I tried again. Then again. Only after consulting an online forum where someone had published a different step was I able to start diagnostics mode.

More than 30 minutes later, we were done. The warning message about the unknown battery went away.

Apple said it welcomed feedback as it continued evolving the self-repair program. So here’s mine. Like any new tech gizmo, this program is a fledgling product with pros and cons and the potential to be much better.

There are some benefits that will lead to higher-quality, cheaper repairs for everyone. Now all independent repair technicians, including Mr. Taiyab, have access to Apple’s tools. (He said he would probably buy Apple’s press for sealing up iPhones.) And everyone can now read the official instructions on how to do repairs, which eliminates guesswork.

But the entire experience was far from simple, and even for those who try, Apple exerts too much control by requiring approval of its repairs. If we install Apple parts, like a working screen taken from another iPhone, they should work — period.

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