Known: Those tiny Phillips screws are pretty, but they eat driver bits. Realistically, you need to buy a quality #00 to get them out without damage. $4 for a Wiha 96100 will do.
Known: Customers lie when they bring a product in for service. Dropped "my precious" in a toilet? An impending repair bill can have devastating effects on some people's morals. Part of your iPhone cost is the three water sensors assembled into it. You payed for those just to prevent you from lying to Apple and fraudulently claiming a warranty replacement.
Unknown: How many customers go exploring in their device, compromise a seal or connection, then later incur a repair? A small number to be sure, but at Apple's scale, the extra cost of an uncommon screw is zero. (the bits for assembly probably outlast Phillips bits, it might even save a tiny bit of money)
Known: A quick googling shows you can buy the uncommon pentalobe driver for $9.95 from ScrewdriversWorld, about twice the cost of a Phillips. That doesn't seem terribly well hidden or really any kind of barrier to someone that wants to install a $500-$1100 SSD upgrade.
Unknown: There are a number of different 5 lobed screw patterns. I'm not positive that one I found above is the right one.
Known: iFixit got a great PR boost. They have driven a small nerd herd to their site to buy $9.95 screwdriver sets and for this they call Apple "diabolical"? They should be sending them a fruit basket and a nice card!
 But you are a geek! Get the complete sets of the tiny ones including hex and Torx.
 Don't get me wrong, I love these guys. Ah the evenings I've spent with the iFixit site, an iBook with a bad inverter cable, my full set of Wiha screwdrivers, and 24 tiny glass bowls for the beautiful tiny screws of myriad designs from each step. The entire procedure is just slightly more complicated than replacing Spock's brain.
You make it sound like Apple is an innocent little child. It swings both ways - for every "amoral" customer you get claiming a warranty replacement, you'll have another "moral" customer getting short shrift from Apple (or company X) in terms of legitimate warranties not being honoured in a timely fashion or not following up on promises. When it actually comes to needing support, a lot of people find that Apple's slick sell doesn't flow into support - you take your chances and sometimes it really sucks.
"$500-$1100 SSD upgrade"
That's quite a tarry brush you're carrying there. A nice 120GB 2.5" SSD is all of $250 Australian dollars ($220 on newegg). A 240GB 2.5" drive is indeed $500, but I couldn't find an $1100 drive (my local may just not stock them). Regardless, you're intentionally picking the worst possible case to make your point.
What about this situation: The bottom end mac pro comes with a 250GB drive (and you can't get a 500GB one). Upgrading to a 500GB drive costs less than $100 for the parts if you buy your own drive ($89 near me). Or 750GB/1TB for $115/$185? That's a decent upgrade for you computer, and it's not ridiculously expensive like you make out.
I don't have a problem with countermeasures like water sensors, but to defend them by saying things like "what's the problem with buying a special screwdriver since anyone who's going to do so is going to install the most expensive SSD they can possibly find!" is just straight out apologism.
What are you talking about? Apple support consistently scores near the top. Have you ever dealt with Dell?
Usually a tough Allen wrench of similar size and some luck works on those oddball sized heads.
Oh, and they are also an awesome company (that certainly helps, too).
I kind of gathered the feeling there was going to be good hack to solve this, well, the article then goes on to try and sell me that very overpriced screwdriver
You see it as abuse, and I understand why, but from the perspective of a multi-billion-dollar business, this is not dissimilar from the people who think all non-GPL software is also abuse.
I am currently at a college and our PC Techs tend to get some interesting problems with PC's brought in by people who tried to repair them. It is kinda ugly.
I would not consider this cheating, or an evil way to prevent people from hacking on the items they legally own. If anything, it protects consumers from getting into things that they most certainly do not know how to fix, and even more, they don't know when they actually break the item further. Hackers that can own up to their responsibility of opening an item and accidentally damaging it will always open up and play with the internals. No one cares about that, they care about the guy that thinks he can replace parts he doesn't even know exists.
I've only "made" one watch from start to finish of which I still own. There really isn't much of a market for custom made watches. Plus all my tools are traditional hand tools so it can take a couple months to craft a single movement.
How can you "violate" a warranty. As most I think you can void it.
I don't mean that like it's a bad thing. If you've ever had to reach up behind an instrument panel and attempt to guide a #00 philips screw in to its destination, you'll quickly come to appreciate the ingenuity of these odd-ball fastener types.
Another common cause is automated assembly. Fasteners like torx screws work better with automated machinery because they don't suffer from cam-out.
What I'm getting at is that it was probably an engineering decision, not a device security decision.
At these tiny sizes torx bits end up with some very thin material at the tips of the star pattern. The pentalobe has one fewer tips and the curves are inverse, resulting in more meterial in the bit and less in the fastener head. That makes for a more durable tool at the expense of the fastener durability. These screws weren't intended for frequent removal though, so it's a good trade-off from a tooling perspective.
If they were a company that sold equipment to R&D labs only, they would have used common fasterners.
Example if your car manufacturer wouldn't allow you to go under your hood to bring to any repair shop but had to bring it to the dealership, or other electronics, you would have to go bring it to where you purchased it to replace the batteries ?
Theres been many times I wish I could have an extra battery I could swap out on my iphone, under heavy usage and not being near a charger all day. Thats why the iphone isn't right for my needs now, because theres alternatives, but I can see how this become more of a common practice based on the success of apple.
I don't find this acceptable at all. The rationale seems to be that some people will open up a device, break something, then try to get it covered by the warranty. But trying to prevent people from fixing their own hardware because some take advantage of it is the same backwards approach the music industry takes with digital restriction management: treat your customers like criminals.
If the computer is part of a workflow, it's more like needing to work on the transmission's internals, versus just dropping a new one in. Likewise, hearing people talk about the "right to work on it" seem odd and counterproductive, because it's simply not important.
Try telling a painter that he's wrong for not spending all of his free time learning how to fix and maintain a computer used to surf facebook and send an email or two.
It's as if a bunch of car racing enthusiasts were gonzo about a Prius with a welded shut hood! In my experience, while some racing fans are content with keeping the hood shut, most racers are also good mechanics. Are there other examples of experts being so willing to accept that their tools are not customizable? I think of things like low-fi music and the Holga, but even there there is a lot of modding going on.
The obvious answer is probably that 'hacker' is an applied rather than base characteristic. Rather, one can be a software hacker without caring at all about the underlying hardware. But I'm dubious: while it's certainly possible to write good software while never looking at the layers below your preferred virtual machine, I have to think that you benefit from knowing how that layer really works. And that one, and that one.
But unless you're a hardware engineer, in which case you have custom hardware anyway, you don't need to open the computer and inspect the data lines from the CPU and RAM. Just know that they're there and how they work.
In fact the only time I've ever opened this MacBook was to upgrade the hard drive, which admittedly did require a Torx, but Torx really isn't that uncommon. Plus given the low number of people (and high likelihood that anyone replacing a hard drive will have Torx) needing to replace a hard drive and known resistance to camouts makes Torx a good choice for the tiny screws that hold a computer together.
I've repaired a couple Apple products in the last year. I resoldered an IC on a friend's MacBook to get get rid of a constant reboot problem, and swapped out a broken video card from my girlfriend's desktop Mac Pro. Both were reasonably straightforward repairs, although I'm not sure what they'll gain by making it harder. I'm OK with Torx, but don't see the benefit of moving to Pentalobular.
But I'm sure I can drill them out if I really need too. :)
I could find two arguments for that being a fact in the article. The first one is that these screws are only used on the outside of the devices.
However, the screws on the outside likely also are the ones that are fastened with the most torque, and they also can the only ones connecting two particular materials.
So, it could also be that these are just the technically best choice for the application.
The second argument I could find is the claim "Apple occasionally refers to these as “Pentalobe security screws.”" however, Google didn't turn up anything for a search for 'pentalobe' on Apple.com.
Finally, Apple being Apple, these screws might even have been chosen because their color best matches the case, are the ones that could be painted white best, or to prevent cases where the alignment of visible lines with the edges of the display of a square or rectangular screw would occasionally be 'just not right'.
My opinion? Making stuff hard to open may have been an objective, but I am not convinced it was the or even the major reason for choosing these fasteners.
Apple literally advertises this as a major feature of the platform, so calling it "outrageous" is silly.
- when I exchanged the HDD for a SSD.
- when my keyboard didn't respond anymore and a strip was loose
It's just the fact that they don't let you open up your owned hardware, by deliberately placing other screws.
The minor problem is, people open Apple hardware up, violate the warranty, break the product, put it back together again, and send it back to Apple; Apple has to expend resources already to prevent that from happening (in the same fashion as all consumer electronics companies have to expend effort to detect moisture damage).
The major problem is, third party companies will open up shop performing unauthorized repairs on Apple hardware. Apple can't vouch for any of that work, many of those companies may end up damaging Apple hardware and upsetting Apple users, and Apple has a clear business interest in making it less easy for random people to enter that market.
For typical repairs, Apple offers very good warranties and one of the best return/repair services I've ever seen. It's not like you're going to save yourself a ton of time and money ordering iffy parts off eBay and tearing into the hardware yourself. If you're not doing this stuff for fun, why are you wasting your time with it in the first place?
This isn't about them trying to take away your right to modify your own hardware. There's still nothing (and likely will never be anything) stopping you from taking a hammer to it, drilling out the screws, x-raying it, or whatever. I'm sure Apple doesn't care if you want to see what's inside something you own. What they do care about is people modifying or attempting repairs and then breaking it and then trying to convince Apple it was their fault. Or passing off a broken/modified device as a legit Apple product and causing customer confusion. Or perhaps these new screws simply work better in their machines, jam up less, can be screwed in faster, whatever.
I don't know how much money you have, but the price difference between replacing my failing iPhone 3G battery myself and having Apple do it was non-trivial, and the warranty did not cover it.
However it is definitely not for everyone, and I for one would just let people know to include the battery replacement charge as part of an ownership cost of the product.
(By the way doing this myself actually made me feel sorry for the people who have to do this all day long).
If you happen to need an 11.6" Macbook Air with a 250Gb SSD rather than the max-size 128Gb one that Apple will sell you, then you need to be able to crack the case without damaging it.
(I have every intention of upping my Airbook to 250Gb in a few months, and it'd be nice not to have to worry about gotchas like this.)
While I am a 'tinkerer', it is also my professional duty to perform actions like these. The Right Way is not to find a hacky "elegant and creative way around" this issue, but to have direct access.
"Or perhaps these new screws simply work better in their machines, jam up less, can be screwed in faster, whatever."
This is... optimistic...
Yeh, people are gonna complain here - we're the people who like to break stuff open.
Now, I think that manufacturers should use open standard parts that are easy for end users to deal with, but they have every right to not honor warranty claims should you go dicking around.
BUT, "Shame on them?" Grow the fuck up.
They later toss in a remark that their mega-bit set can no longer open "Any consumer electrical device. Thanks a lot Apple!", which I assume is meant to be humorous... But it just seems to ring true. They seem bitter they can't get this open without another tiny screwdriver.
Is this kinda shitty? Well yeah. Was their reaction MASSIVELY out of proportion? Hell Yeah. Apple owe you shit all and are known for being unfriendly to those who like things modifiable. Don't fucking whinge about it, it's not like they TRICKED YOU into buying a phone with those screws.
If you're REALLY that unhappy, don't buy the fucking phone.
Nevertheless, it might be "tricking" you, but do people REALLY buy from Apple expecting to not get a tightly closed product?
"Oh, I bought this raptor, but I didn't EXPECT him to eat your son, I'm SO sorry!"
Seriously though, it's not a right to dictate the type of screws used for devices you bought on the open market.