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Apple switches to tamper-resistant screws

updated 11:55 am EST, Thu January 20, 2011

May prevent user, third-party repairs

Apple is switching to a new kind of screw across its product lines, claims iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens. The company is specifically said to be migrating to a special "Pentalobe" screw, for instance replacing the Phillips screws used in earlier shipments of the iPhone 4. This creates a serious problem, Wiens suggests, as the screwdrivers needed to remove Pentalobes are not easy to buy, effectively blocking people from doing their own repairs or having a third-party company handle it.

Wiens argues that Apple's goal is to prevent tampering with its products, also artificially inflating their rate of obsolescence. As evidence he notes that the Pentalobes are only used "at the bulwark," for example on the outside cases of the iPhone or MacBook Air, or for the battery of the MacBook Pro. Apple Store technicians are in fact said to be replacing Phillips screws with Pentalobes if a device is taken in for service, although in some cases they are allegedly "ashamed" of having to do so.

To capitalize, iFixit is selling a kit for the iPhone 4 including Pentalobe and Phillips screwdrivers as well as a set of replacement Phillips screws. Apple is known to be extremely concerned with tampering in its products. Water sensors inside its devices are, in some cases, used to deny warranty repairs.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This will drive the price of the screwdrivers down

    This will drive the price down, but what's next? The mattress label: do not remove this label? Warranty-void label like the ones found on hard drives?

  1. OtisWild

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Torx would be much better, these are just silly.

    And torx bits are easy to find in any hardware store.

  1. bobolicious

    Joined: Dec 1969


    batteries, ram & drives...

    ...should be user changeable without a $100+ service fee - including a raid option in portables - great design in my world includes making obvious upgrades & servicing easy & economical...

    ...even the downtime is a factor - something for which indy dealers excel - Apple seems to expect users to be willing to leave a computer at their store for repair a week or more ?

  1. Grendelmon

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Thx, Apple

    Brilliant move.

  1. ScottG

    Joined: Dec 1969



    And Move On. We will just have to buy another tool.

  1. malax

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Apple Way

    Apple is selling an "appliance experience." If you don't like that, don't buy these products. When's the last time you tried to open up your cell phone, clock radio, or car stereo? Or your TV? These aren't user-serviceable devices and neither are iPhone, iPods, or iPads. Factor that into your buying decision.

    This won't impact anyone who really wants to tinker or business who offer upgrades. I think they can afford to buy a new set of screwdrivers.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This is a good move

    Um, I am very glad they are moving away from philips screws.

  1. OtisWild

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It makes sense, if they feel that torx screws will offend rich islamic buyers (like saudi princes)..

  1. facebook_Cosmo

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2011


    Nice move, Apple

    Why give your customers the freedom to upgrade or repair devices they have purchased. That would be... uh, wrong.

  1. serkol

    Joined: Dec 1969


    We are screwed again...

    your comment

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