iFixit is a company that creates outstanding, free, instruction manuals for repairing computers, mobile phones, and other consumer electronics. I've used iFixit manuals to upgrade the hard drives on my Mac laptops.
Kyle Wiens, the CEO of iFixit, sent me the news that Apple has started using a tamper-resistant screw on its iPhones and some of its laptops, which of course makes it more difficult to repair the stuff you own.
But read on; Kyle has a solution.
Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw across their product line. It is not a standard Torx, and there are no readily available screwdrivers that can remove it. They chose this "Pentalobe" fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive. The iPhone 4 originally shipped with Phillips screws, but Apple has transitioned completely to this new security screw. Shame on them.
This screw head clearly has one purpose: to keep you out. Otherwise, Apple would use it throughout each device. Instead, they only use it at the bulwark -- on the outside case of your iPhone and MacBook Air, and protecting the battery on the MacBook Pro --so they can keep you out of your own hardware.
That's bad enough on its own, but Apple's latest policy will make your blood boil: If you take your iPhone 4 into Apple for any kind of service, they will sabotage it by replacing your Phillips screws with the new tamper-resistant screws! We've spoken with the Apple Store geniuses tasked with carrying out this policy, and they are ashamed of the practice.
iFixit's solution: Liberate your iPhone! We have sourced a screwdriver that works for the 5-point "Pentalobe" fasteners on the iPhone 4 case. We're selling the screwdriver along with replacement Phillips screws so you can restore your iPhone 4 to its original, serviceable state.
Rid your phone of those terrible Pentalobe screws forever. The $9.95 iPhone Liberation Kit includes a Pentalobe driver, two replacement Phillips screws, and a regular #00 Phillips screwdriver. This move is a part of Apple's strategic plan to increase the rate of obsolescence of their hardware. I'll post another story examining Apple's tactics later today on iFixit's blog.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.