Apple is changing the Philips screws on the iPhone 4 to something called a “Pentalobe” screw to prevent people from opening it.
In line with its notorious stand of maintaining absolute control over its products, sources said U.S. Apple stores are replacing screws on iPhone 4 units that are brought for servicing with tamper-proof ones to prevent anyone from opening it.
Kyle Wiens, chief executive of iFixit, a famous Apple repair shop and parts supplier, said the purpose of these screws is to keep people from opening the iPhone and replacing the battery. He said he noticed in November that screws were being switched.
“If you took your car in for service and they welded your hood shut, you wouldn’t be very happy,” he said, referring to Apple keeping owners out of their iPhones.
iFixit, based in San Luis Obispo, California, has become famous in the technology world for opening up, often within hours or minutes of a new product launch, various Apple devices like the iPhone 4, 6th generation iPod Nano etc. The company has detailed guides on D.I.Y repairs on their website. They promote self-repair to cut down on electronic waste that goes to landfills.
According to two insiders with first-hand knowledge of the process, when a customer brings an iPhone 4 into a U.S. Apple store for repair, technicians swap out the stock Phillips screws and replace them with “Pentalobe” screws. Customers are not informed of this switch.
It was not clear how common these replacement screws are, but one of these people said the screw swap started in fall last year and is now standard procedure at U.S. Apple stores. This person said the iPhone 4 was even shipped with Pentalobe screws instead of the Philips screws in Japan.
Apple, well-known for discouraging individual modifications of its products, has made no comment on this.
The iPhone 4 went on sale last summer and became Apple’s fastest-selling version of the iconic device and more than 16 million iPhones have been sold.
Apple will replace iPhone batteries free if the device is under warranty, but otherwise charges US$79.
Wiens said that you could easily change the iPhone 4 battery with the old screws, but not many users knew about it. “Apple wants to be in the business of selling you the new battery,” he said.
The world’s largest technology company is lightning quick when it comes to protecting its secrets. Last year, when an iPhone 4 prototype was found by an outsider in a bar and sold to tech blog Gizmodo, Apple made an uproar and investigators raided a journalist’s house.
Pentalobe screws require a screwdriver that is not commercially available, Wiens said. The screw is similar to a commonly used Torx screw, but it has five points instead of six.
Wiens said iFixit, which sells repair kits for iPhones and other Apple products, searched high and low for a screwdriver that could be used with Pentalobe screws to no avail. Finally, they specially appointed a supplier to custom make one for them. However even that is not a perfect match, he said.
The Pentalobe screw first appeared on the battery compartment of a Macbook Pro laptop in 2009 and also on the exterior of the latest MacBook Air.
Source: Yahoo! news