Getting an Apple product repaired often involves going directly to the (expensive) source — an Apple Store — or a big third-party firm. If you live somewhere with limited choices, Apple’s recently announced expansion of its Independent Repair Provider program might change that. The company plans to expand its repair program to “nearly every country where Apple products are sold,” meaning someone near you could soon be using official Apple parts to fix your cracked phone.
Right now, the program is only available in the US, Canada and Europe, but according to Apple’s announcement, repair providers from countries including Australia, Japan, and Korea will be able to join this week, with providers from even more countries including China joining the program later this year.
Providers have to apply to participate, but once approved, they can only buy a limited variety of first-party materials like batteries, screens, and diagnostic tools. So while your local repair person will be able to fix the most common issues with official parts, anything more more exotic will have to go through Apple, one of its authorized service providers, or risk voiding a warranty or becoming unsupported down the line.
If you actually do the hard work of repairing devices, there’s other things to be aware of, too. Joining the program comes with a contract that reportedly gives Apple the right to both inspect repair shops and fine them if it finds something amiss. Apple can charge $1,000 per transaction for any shop it catches using knockoff parts in more than two percent of repairs, according to a Motherboard report.
Apple generally only seems to be supportive of third-party repairs if it can find a way to make money off of them, and this repair program doesn’t seem to be any different. This is the company that routinely attempts to kill right-to-repair bills and has devised methods to make iPhones non-functional if they use third-party batteries, after all.
You can read the full list of participating countries and regions on Apple’s website.