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1/24/2011
08:24 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Apple Puts The Screws To iPhone Users

Today if you want to remove the back of your iPhone you need a simple Phillips head screw driver found in any hardware store, or most kitchen drawers for that matter. Soon though that won't be an option. Apple has devised a proprietary screw head that will be very difficult to remove with out a specialized tool.

Today if you want to remove the back of your iPhone you need a simple Phillips head screw driver found in any hardware store, or most kitchen drawers for that matter. Soon though that won't be an option. Apple has devised a proprietary screw head that will be very difficult to remove with out a specialized tool.iFixIt is a web site that posts manuals and repair tips for Apple users and has the info on the new screw head. Apple is calling them Pentalobular screws. The head has five (penta) lobes so typical screw drivers with slotted, Phillips, Torx and Robertson heads won't work. Seeing it reminded me of some of the odd heads found in some lug nuts that make it difficult for thieves to quickly make off with valuable rims on your car. The iFixIt site has an graphic showing the head.

Don't think you can just go online and find a screw driver for it either. According to iFixIt, no reputable suppliers sell it. Only authorized Apple technicians have access to them.

Expect the next generation iPhone to have them as well as new iPhone 4s that are part of a recent production run. If you take your iPhone in for service, any kind of service, your local Apple Genius may replace the screws in your phone with the Pentalobular head.

While the iPhone isn't designed to be repaired or tinkered with by anyone but Apple technicians, some users are comfortable doing minor repairs. You can replace batteries, the back cover, docking port, cameras, displays and more without having an engineering degree from MIT, but first, you've got to get that case off. Apple is out to eliminate that. This is like DRM for your phone. You can play with the phone and use it only for Apple's intended purpose, but if you try to do anything else, you'll be foiled when you try to remove the cover.

If you really want to get in there, iFixIt does sell an iPhone liberation kit for $9.95 which comes with a star-shaped screw driver head that can remove the screws, but it tears up the screw heads at the same time. That's ok because the kit comes with a set of classic Phillips head screws. Just don't take it to a Genius or they may put the Pentalobular heads back.

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