With so many bad puns at the ready, it’s probably wise to just get to the meat of the issue and bypass a nerdy attempt at humor. There are reports that users who bring their iPhones into an Apple Store to have it fixed are having Phillips screws replaced with a rare type of screw that prevents laymen from being able to open up the device.
Apple is switching to a new type of tamper-resistant screw. This is not a standard Torx, and there are no readily available screwdrivers that can remove it. This isn’t the first time they’ve used this type of screw—it first appeared in the mid-2009 MacBook Pro to prevent you from replacing the battery—and Apple is using a similar screw on the outer case of the current MacBook Air. This screw is the primary reason the 11″ MacBook Air earned a lousy repairability score of 4 out of 10 in our teardown last October.
Apple chose this fastener specifically because it was new, guaranteeing repair tools would be both rare and expensive. Shame on them…
This screw head is new to us. In fact, there isn’t a single reputable supplier that sells exactly the same screwdrivers Apple’s technicians use—which is Apple’s point. They picked an obscure head that no one would have.
The new screw looks like a 5-sided cloverleaf which Apple refers to as a pentalobe and can already be found in products like the recent MacBook Pro battery case and the latest model of the MacBook Air. Somewhat frustratingly, authorized service technicians who want to get down and dirty with various Apple devices will now have to pay Apple a fee to gain access to a unique set of tools.
This should certainly cause some headaches for do it yourselfers who can no longer pry open their device with a basic screwdriver.