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iFixit is breaking up with Samsung

iFixit and Samsung are parting ways. Two years after they teamed up on one of the first direct-to-consumer phone repair programs, iFixit CEO and co-founder Kyle Wiens tells The Verge the two companies have failed to renegotiate a contract — and says Samsung is to blame.

“Samsung does not seem interested in enabling repair at scale,” Wiens tells me, even though similar deals are going well with Google, Motorola, and HMD.

He believes dropping Samsung shouldn’t actually affect iFixit customers all that much. Instead of being Samsung’s partner on genuine parts and approved repair manuals, iFixit will simply go it alone, the same way it’s always done with Apple’s iPhones.

While Wiens wouldn’t say who technically broke up with whom, he says price is the biggest reason the Samsung deal isn’t working: Samsung’s parts are priced so high, and its phones remain so difficult to repair, that customers just aren’t buying.

Most importantly, Samsung has only ever shipped batteries to iFixit that are preglued to an entire phone screen — making consumers pay over $160 even if they just want to replace a worn-out battery pack. That’s something Samsung doesn’t do with other vendors, according to Wiens. Meanwhile, iFixit’s iPhone and Pixel batteries cost more like $50.

iFixit says the Samsung deal wouldn’t let it help local repair shops, either, because the contract artificially limited iFixit to sell no more than seven parts per customer within a three-month period. “We haven’t been able to get parts moving at the volumes needed to move the environmental needle,” says Wiens.

Last but not least, iFixit simply hasn’t been able to get official parts for the newest Samsung devices — in fact, 2022’s Galaxy S22 lineup was the last time iFixit added genuine parts for new Samsung phones. (While Samsung did add the S23, Z Flip 5, and Z Fold 5 to its self-repair program in December, that was with a different provider, Encompass; iFixit says it was left out.)

Didn’t iFixit know about those restrictions going into the deal? Yes, says Wiens — and it’s not the first time an iFixit-Samsung deal has fallen apart. He says he can’t tell me if Samsung promised things would be any different this time around.

The company still plans to stock aftermarket Samsung parts and publish repair guides, and it still has a stockpile of existing genuine parts. iFixit actually thinks it’ll sell more Samsung parts in the end. But it’ll no longer work with Samsung directly on repair manuals, and iFixit’s manuals might be less detailed as a result.

Samsung and iFixit’s partnership officially ends on June 17th, according to Wiens, and he says he doesn’t believe Samsung will be in violation of any right-to-repair laws once it’s done. In California, for example, Samsung will legally have to provide repair tools, parts, software, and documentation for seven years when the law goes into effect on July 1st, 2024, for any device it sold after July 1st, 2021.

“We’ve been the ones publishing documents for them,” says Wiens, but I can see the Samsung Self Repair Services page at Encompass already has some official repair guides, if not all. Some of those guides also mention a Samsung Self Repair Assistant app, which is weirdly not available in either Google Play or the Galaxy Store and has to be sideloaded in the US. Here’s the downloadable APK from Encompass’s website.

A snippet from Samsung’s S22 repair manual; I’ve highlighted a line about the APK.
Image: Samsung

In a blog post titled “We’re Ending Our Samsung Collaboration” that iFixit will publish today, the company stops short of suggesting that Samsung is “repairwashing” or pursuing any other sort of malicious compliance strategy.

We clearly didn’t learn our lesson the first time, and let them convince us they were serious about embracing repair.

We tried to make this work. Gosh, we tried. But with such divergent priorities, we’re no longer able to proceed.

Samsung did not reply to a request for comment for this story.

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