With all the Right To Repair movements happening in the US, I thought I’d throw my two cents in.
My repair experience
I once got a free Note 3 from my dad that refused to charge up. The service representative had quoted my dad hundreds of dollars for a motherboard replacement - and he also mentioned that “normal operation of the phone wouldn’t be guaranteed” with the replacement. My dad was fed up with the repair, and just grabbed a new phone from his carrier.
Sure enough, that service representative was talking out of his ass. After buying a “for-parts” phone on Korea’s eBay equivalent, I discovered that the service guy had tried to solder the charging signal wire on the daughterboard - and failed miserably. There was no continuity on the board, and sure enough, it did not charge. So when I pulled the daughterboard from the parts phone and replaced it on my dad’s phone, the phone started charging once more.
Furthermore, the part phone came with a fully functional motherboard (and a cracked screen which I threw away after duct-taping), so if the Note 3 dies with a motherboard issue I could just swap out the motherboard and keep it running like new. And when I was going through the replacement process, I learned a lot about the phone and how the parts were organized inside the phone itself.
Contrasting two car brands
Look at this video. At the very end, the parts he scrapped from the Jaguar could be reused to fix up his own car, and could be sold as parts. Having an active community, a marketplace for where parts are exchanged, guarantees the longevity of the car, and allows repairs to be done quickly, easily, and at a fraction of the price that is quoted from the dealership.
In contrast, look at this channel that deals with Tesla car repairs. Most of the parts are extremely hard to get for the YouTuber, the software used inside is proprietary and often hinders his repair progress, and Tesla can even deem vehicles “dangerous” and not fit for the road, disabling core functions remotely. With repairs costing thousands and thousands of dollars, and no guarantee that the car itself would be fixed after the repairs, it shows why Tesla’s cars, despite being eco-friendly by using electricity, is not really appealing to the general consumer when compared to a different car brand.
Now, I’m not saying that Jaguars are better than Teslas, no. I’m saying that Tesla’s track report for consumer repair is complete shit, and that other car brands’ cars can usually be repaired with much less hassle. Even though Teslas bring ecological benefits for the driver, consumers will probably not opt to buy a car that’s not really a car - a service locked down that’s “rented” to you at a cost.
So how can I help?
Whenever something breaks, don’t just throw it away. Fix it, or failing that, salvage it and use the parts for some other project. Or maybe even sell it for parts for somebody else to take apart!
When you throw away electronics, it becomes an e-waste, and that’s harmful to the environment because of all the toxic shit inside of PCBs, chips, batteries, and other components. Mercury, lead, lithium… all of these toxic chemicals damage soil and the ocean when they’re dumped.
Before you buy a phone or a laptop or any electronic device, check iFixit. Check the rating the device has on the teardown page, and use it to determine if you could fix the device easily if it breaks in the future. As a rule of thumb, iPhones and Samsung phones are moderately hard to fix, because of their waterproofing glue. However, once you get inside, most phones have modular components and could be replaced easily. Some phones are held together by plastic clips, such as the Nexus 5X and others. These phones are less tedious to repair because you could just pop the back cover off (with your fingernails sometimes) and replace whatever you need with a standard Phillips screwdriver.
For laptops, avoid the Mac and the Surface lineup like a plague. Most Macs have soldered-on components, and with the addition of the T2 chip, most components are impossible to replace, often requiring a visit to the Apple Store for a “calibration.” For the Surface, nearly everything is glued shut and cannot be fixed. Even if you managed to pry your way inside,everything is soldered together - an impossible upgrade job. I suggest looking at ThinkPads, old Dell laptops, or maybe even HP laptops on eBay.
There’s also another way of helping the environment if you don’t know how to repair. Don’t buy the latest and greatest tech. Sure, that new AR feature looks cool, the camera can zoom to the freaking International Space Station, the speaker blows the ears away, etc. However, your old phone still works and functions as a phone. Isn’t that enough?
And if it breaks, don’t just go out and buy a new one. Try asking somebody else to repair it, and keep using it until it’s economically not viable to keep repairing and using it.
Once you do have to buy new gear, consider buying used on sites like eBay. Many phones on eBay are turnovers from owners that buy the latest and greatest tech, so most are in pristine condition. Laptops are also good value because businesses typically flood the market with used corporate devices once a tumble period comes up.
That’s pretty much it for this blog post. Save the environment. Support Right To Repair, and keep using that device you have!