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Apple Tighten The Screw

David Gilbert


Apple Tighten The Screw

First off, apologies for the puns in the headline and summary, we promise there will be no more. Back on topic, it appears as if Apple doesn’t like people having a look around inside the iPhone 4 as they have replaced the screws on the bottom of the phone with tamper-proof ones.

The issue came to light through an American repair site, iFixit, who noticed that American iPhone users who sent their phones in for repair had their handsets returned with completely different screws on the bottom - with no prior warning. The iPhone 4 was easily disassembled when it was released in June last year entailing the removal of two Phillips #00 screws on the bottom and then sliding off the back cover.

Now however those evil geniuses in Cupertino have replaced the regular screws with something called Pentalobular screws which iFixit claim cannot be opened by any screwdriver commercially available on the market at the moment. The screw has five points, which are rounded and as you can see from the image above, is very different from security Torx screws used on other devices. This is not the first time these screws have been seen however.

When the iPhone 4 was released in Japan these Pentalobular screws where there from the off and they can also be found on the 2010 MacBook Air and in mid-2009 MacBook Pros. However the recent development of not telling the customers the screws are being replaced shows just how much Apple don’t want people messing about within its technology. Expect to see these screws on many more Apple products from now on.

Source: iFixit via The Inquirer


January 21, 2011, 8:56 pm

What are the odds on the iPhone 5 containing an explosive charge that detonates if you tamper with the hardware or software in a non-approved way? ;)


January 21, 2011, 9:46 pm

I really don't see the point in this, apart from hacking off your customers. Sure, it will keep "normal" people out, but someone will start selling suitable screwdrivers in no time, so its won't have any real impact on the likes of ifixit.


January 21, 2011, 9:49 pm

Umm, http://www.ifixit.com/Tools...

iFixIt have already found a screwdriver that they say works on the iPhone 4 screws (and there's an option for the Macbook Air as well), charge $10 and while it's not a perfect fit they claim it works perfectly. In fact the article that you link to on iFixIt's site explicitly mentions they have a solution. Surely worth putting in your news article?


January 21, 2011, 11:16 pm

@MrGodfrey: Putting the "break" in "Jailbreak" ;-P

Arctic Fox

January 22, 2011, 12:35 am

If I needed yet another reason not to buy anything from the Cupertino Cowboys this would provide it. "Petty" does not even begin to describe that.

David Horn

January 22, 2011, 1:07 am

I suspect the reason behind this is two-fold. Firstly, to stop device owners performing their own repairs (for example, battery replacements). Secondly, the lack of a perfectly fitting screwdriver means that anything that does undo the screw will leave visible damage, so even if the case is never opened Apple can tell instantly whether it's been attempted.

Just my 2p.


January 22, 2011, 4:06 am

Still love my iPhone. Still hate Apple .. now just a bit more!


January 22, 2011, 4:42 am

I like a lot of Apple products but it's at times like this that I'm not sure I want them to have more market share, because we're talking about Communist levels of 'state' dominance, control and paranoia here. Who cares if someone's already selling the right screwdriver? The fact they did this at all to literally lock down the device is, for lack of a better pun, nuts.


January 22, 2011, 5:11 am

i thought some parts in the macbooks, like the RAM and hard drive, were considered user serviceable.

I certainly remember something in my '09 instruction book about being allowed to upgrade the ram.


January 22, 2011, 5:31 am


Those parts deemed user-serviceable by our great Lord Jobs are actually under a separate panel, with different user-friendly cross-head screws.

Greg Shewan

January 22, 2011, 12:00 pm

Apple proves over and over that they are the worlds tech Nazi's.... this is so petty. I a person wants to 'screw' around with his own phone just let it be, if he/she breaks it you can always sell them another one in a year. Add some screws made of lead with a Apple logo on the head and you may finally win the battle ;)


January 22, 2011, 1:35 pm

I suspect this decision may have something to do with Apple wanting to keep John Doe from mucking about in their products. It's a lot easier for Apple if they do not have to check every RMA entry for user inflicted damage inside. How many people have tried to repair their own stuff, but messed up, broke their own equipment and then send it of for repair claiming they don't know why it doesn't work anymore.

If Apple sees tampering with the screws they can deny warranty immediately if they so choose, instead of after a lengthy investigation.

It may not feel right, Apple using custom screws, but Apple is doing it for a reason, and it's not to screw over their collective "innocent" clientele just out of a necessity for control... I mean hell, how is this any different than those stickers on pre-built computers saying "warranty void if seal is broken"?

Kashif Bhatti

January 22, 2011, 2:55 pm

Really? This is news? People (the maojrity) have opinions of what type of screws their device has? I bet this is some sort of 'closed' conspiracy as well...


January 22, 2011, 3:01 pm

@BOFH UK "In fact the article that you link to on iFixIt's site explicitly mentions they have a solution. Surely worth putting in your news article?"

It's a great advert for iFixIt.


January 22, 2011, 3:43 pm

Seems like another money making revenue for apple, sell another over priced accessory just to make your devise work (think they can call it the ISCREW) cost of development 10p charge £10. Well done Apple more marketing genius, sorry to burst the I Bubble but the hardware in you devises is nothing special it all comes out of the same factory and the technology inside was developed years ago before the iPhone came along so what is with the attempt of secrecy, If people want the choice to repair there phones themselves they should be able to easily and without barriers put in there way after all it is there product they paid for it.


January 22, 2011, 5:01 pm

Personally I'd be happy for my customers to open up their gizmos and invalidate their warranties.


January 22, 2011, 6:14 pm

Already on sale on ebay as well. Totally pointess exercise for Apple as a previous poster has commented.



January 22, 2011, 7:07 pm

Apple really need to lower their prices, its overpriced and there are better smartphone at a better price.


January 22, 2011, 7:15 pm


It's different because those stickers give you an explicit choice of whether or not to void your warranty. It's your property, you have every right to fiddle around with it if you so wish to.


January 22, 2011, 9:27 pm

@Ahlan, you're joking right?

iPhones are selling like hotcakes. They'd be mad to lower the price and reduce their revenues/profits.


January 22, 2011, 10:26 pm

I'm just bored with Apple these days.



January 22, 2011, 10:56 pm

Does this really matter? People don't exactly buy Apple products because they want to tinker with the hardware. It takes a rather special sort of person to tinker with Apple hardware (they don't exactly make it easy), and the sort of people who want to do that aren't exactly going to be stopped by an unusual screw. I suspect Apple's purpose is simply to make it easier to deter and detect (and hence refuse to repair under warranty) panicky attempts to self-repair by less clued-up people or by dodgy side-street mobile phone repairmen. After all, they have a history of adding stuff to their products to make it easier to detect warranty breaches like that famous spill detector.


January 23, 2011, 12:30 am

I suspect your average punter ( ipod/pad/phone 'er mac owner) will just go to the store where they bought it and say " its broke - fix it"

Those like me that want to repair their istuff have just got the screwdriver here. When a new screw appears so will the screwdriver from the ever enterprising Far East ( where the dang things are made anyway!)

Apart from that who gives a rat arse as this aint *news*


January 23, 2011, 8:25 pm

Are you kidding me? Since when is this news? Everyone has been doing this ever since Mercedes-Benz introduced special screws in late '60 (may not be the first one but i don't know any earlier example).

Greg Shewan

January 23, 2011, 10:44 pm

@K.B and Sleeper... apparently so, see how many hits this one frivolous article generated? It's our fault though. Look I just helped again! *Sigh*

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