An all-too-common occurrence for smartphone owners, or any electronic device for that matter, is breakage. This is why we see so many cases made available to protect items that cost several hundred dollars. Despite efforts to avoid damage it seems inevitable and when it happens, device owners are not left with many choices when it comes to repairs. Like other industries, smartphone manufacturers work hard to steer owners to their own repair facilities where then can charge considerable fees or encourage users to upgrade to a newer device. In California, legislation has been introduced that follows the example of several other states to create a “right to repair” that is meant to create more options for consumers when it comes time for a repair.
Currently, owners typically have two choices when it comes to repairing a broken device. They can send in to a manufacturer or the original retailer for repairs in a process that is likely expensive and slow. Another choice is to used an unauthorized third party which typically means no recourse if things go from bad to worse. For a small segment, do-it-yourself may also be an option if parts and tools can be obtained.
The legislation in California would require official repair parts be made available directly to consumers or to third-party repair sources. Similarly, manufacturers would have to make available diagnostic information and any specific unique tools that someone would need when making repair.
Sources like the Electronic Frontier Foundation who support the legislation note that it will help people “understand and fix their own property.” They also suggest that making tools available for individuals to tinker with their devices could spark some innovation that could benefit the whole industry.
Some have wryly noted that this “right to repair” legislation has been submitted in the home state of many of the industry’s tech giants.