Right to Repair has been a hot topic for some years and there has been a growing push in the past decade for “fair repair” legislation as it applies to consumer electronics. In the simplest of terms, Right to Repair gives consumers and independent repair shops access to OEM parts, manuals, diagrams and diagnostics for the purpose of repairing or replacing parts. While anyone can technically repair their own smartphone or other electronics devices, manufacturers aren’t in the habit of making it easy.
Often, you will have to purchase the parts third-party and usually, find a how-to video on YouTube to walk you through the repairs process. Not an impassible barrier but the other problem lies in the fact that this more often than not will void any factory warranty on the device you’re fixing. It wasn’t until recent years that companies such as Apple and Samsung began providing authorized parts and manuals that consumers and repair shops can use to repair devices. Even then, it is the exception, not the rule.
Last year, Google hopped on the DIY bandwagon by partnering up with iFixit to offer OEM-direct parts for Pixel phones all the way back to the Pixel 2 and including every Pixel Phone launched to date. With the iFixit parts, you know you’re getting genuine Pixel parts from Google along with all the tools you need for the repair. Of course, iFixit offers guides and how-tos for all the repairs for which they sell parts. It was a huge step in the right direction especially considering the fact that Google has been notoriously bad about hardware support for many of its devices.
Fixing a standard Pixel phone may not be a huge task for those of you that have been fixing your own devices for years. A foldable, however, is an entirely different animal. To date, no OEM that has a foldable here in the US has ever offered DIY repair parts. Granted, Samsung makes the only foldables that retail here in the states but still. Given the infancy and niche market of foldable smartphones, I honestly would never have expected to see a manufacturer offering DIY for such expensive, intricately designed hardware.
I would have been wrong. According to 9to5Google, a Google spokesperson confirmed that the DIY repair offered through iFixit will extend to the upcoming Pixel Fold. Users will be able to purchase “genuine spare parts” for the Fold and options will be available to fix “batteries, screens, [and] charging assemblies.” 9to5Google was also able to confirm that the DIY repair will include the inner folding display. Good thing, too. As Ron Amadeo reported on ArsTechnica, the inner screen on his review unit failed after just a few days of use.
While I am sincerely hoping that Google’s new Pixel Fold will prove itself to be a solid, reliable device, it’s good to know that Google is taking steps to make it a bit easier to repair. That said, I don’t know that I’d drive into cracking one open unless I was 100% confident in my own skills. It’s tough enough to put a standard smartphone back together and make sure that it’s sealed properly and everything is in place. I can’t imagine fixing a foldable device. But, you have at it if the need should arise.