Devices from companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Google have an infamy for being hard to repair. There is a long line of evidence that supports this, so it is hardly a surprise to see hardware form those companies score low on repairability again. A new report from the US Public Research Interest Group (US PIRG) Education Fund points to brands like Dell and Asus for better repairability.
The report uses data from the brands, which was given to the French government’s “repairability index” law. This is a first of its kind law that forces tech companies to highlight the repairability of their hardware.
Manufacturers of smartphones and laptops to rate each other’s products on how easy they are to repair. In other words, the companies are scoring devices from their rivals. US PIRG teamed with iFixit to take the French repair scores and building on the system across 10 US brands and 187 smartphones and laptops.
US PIRG took the French scores and expanded the system by penalizing companies that are combatting legislation to encourage independent repair. If you’re unfamiliar with US PIRG, it runs a campaign to encourage companies to use right-to-repair services on their devices. By taking the French score and adding its own penalties, the org has created a new list highlighting the fixability of devices and how companies are preventing consumers from fixing them.
“If a company actively lobbies, or is part of a coalition lobbying effort, to prevent access to parts, service information and repair tools, that indicates a hostile attitude toward repair choice,” report author Nathan Proctor, who leads US PIRG’s right-to-repair campaign, told The Verge. “If you want to ensure your product is fixable now and into the future, you should consider the manufacturer’s approach to the repair ecosystem.”
The French repairability index gives companies a score out of 10 based on availability of repair manuals, ease of disassembly, available spare parts, price of spare parts, and a category specific to the device. US PIRG creates its score by averaging the French indexes for all products by a company looking at ease of disassembly. Then a point is taken off if the company has actively lobbied against the right to repair.
Apple was bottom of the pile, which is no surprise to anyone who has even attempted to show an iPhone a screwdriver. Looking at 20 iPhones and MacBook devices, the company scores an average of 3.16/10 (MacBooks) and 2.75/10 (iPhones). Microsoft Surface is not much better, averaging 4.6/10 over nine recent Surface devices. Finally, Google’s Pixel hardware high 4.64/10.
As for rivals, Dell and Asus were the pick of the bunch. Looking at 36 Dell and 22 Asus laptops, US PIRG gave a score of 7.18/10 and 7.61/10, respectively.
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