Apple is gearing up to roll out its proprietary Horizon screen repair machines in hundreds of third-party repair centers by the end of the year.
The move should make it significantly easier for customers to get their broken iPhone screens fixed, and could even turn out to be cheaper. However, does this also signal that the glass iPhone 8 could be more fragile and Apple is preparing ahead of time to handle screen repairs?
iPhone 8 Prone To Damage?
The upcoming iPhone 8 is rumored to feature a sandwich design with a metal frame and glass panels on both its front and back. Apple has not launched iPhones with glass backs since the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s, as all other iPhone models to date have sported metal designs.
With glass designs now trending and a number of flagships rocking glass designs, the iPhone 8 could well join the trend especially since it's expected to support wireless charging, for which Apple should ditch the aluminum design. A glass back to complement the glass front could make the smartphone more fragile and prone to damage, since it could shatter if it takes a tougher tumble.
Apple's iPhone Screen Repair Horizon Machines
According to a new Reuters report, Apple plans to equip 400 third-party repair shops in 25 countries with proprietary iPhone screen repair machines called Horizon.
The news comes at a time when several U.S. states proposed legislation to handle the restrictive and proprietary repair practices of companies such as Apple. The "right to repair" bills target Horizon Machines and other such service procedures put in place to validate the repair. Apple has so far fitted Horizon Machines only at its own stores, but that's about to change this year.
Nevertheless, Apple says that its decision to widen the availability of its iPhone screen repair program does not stem from such legislation. Instead, it opted to expand this program because the wait times for repairs have increased at Apple stores and fitting authorized repair centers with Horizon Machines would ease some of that burden.
Apple Horizon Machines
Authorized third-party repair centers already have a green light from Apple to repair broken iPhones without voiding their warranty, but more serious cases require Horizon Machines to assess the damage and authorize the repair. For instance, if an iPhone fingerprint sensor requires replacing, only Horizon Machines can install a new sensor. With other repairs, the smartphone's processor will reject the new fingerprint sensor.
Reuters notes that a Best Buy in Minneapolis, which has been selling and repairing Apple devices for a good while, will be among the first to get a Horizon Machine. Best Buy already has a screen repair machine at a store in the Miami area, and will soon get another one in Sunnyvale, California.
ComputerCare also revealed earlier this week that it's among the lucky few to participate in a new pilot program for calibration machines and it will conduct repairs on site.
Apple will reportedly deploy Horizon Machines at roughly 200 third-party repair centers, with 200 more to follow by the end of this year.