While Apple has made enormous strides in greening its gadget slate, it still falls short on one critical aspect of reducing e-waste: designing repairable electronics. In addition to its penchant for non-user replaceable batteries and seamless, tough-to-crack enclosures, you now can add exotic “pentalobe” screws into the mix.
It appears that Apple is very serious about keeping folks out of the iPhone 4’s internals and has leapfrogged Torx screws, settling on a variety of fastener that will even stymie do-it-yourselfers with extensive tool collections. Wiens explains the situation to Ars Technica:
“[Apple] chose this ‘pentalobe’ fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive,” Wiens explained. He also noted that the screws are only used on the exterior of the device, merely to make it difficult for end users to get inside. “Otherwise,” Wiens said, “Apple would use it throughout each device.”
…”This is terrible for consumers,” Wiens said. “Apple is taking planned obsolescence to the next level.”
You said it!
Oh, and the new screws are also bedeviling new new MacBook Air owners that might want to perform simple upgrades, like installing a higher capacity SSDs, without making a trip to the Genius Bar. Sure, it’s understandable that Apple doesn’t want users to embark on warranty-avoiding activities, but once that Apple Care coverage expires, there’s little harm in letting folks squeeze another year or two out of their gadgets. Locking down your hardware might be good for repeat sales, but it’s one heck of a way to cut a product’s lifecycle absurdly short.