iPhone 15 Pro Max teardown reveals a mixed bag for repairability

‘It won't be any fun for your local repair tech.’


Repairability website iFixit has published its teardown of the iPhone 15 Pro Max, and the results are a mixed bag. Local repair shops still have to deal with the company's software-restricted “parts pairing” requirement, which means they need to order official components directly from Apple and get on the phone with a company employee before iOS will accept individual part replacements.

On the positive side, iFixit praised Apple for returning to a “dual-entry” removable glass back cover with the iPhone 15 Pro models — a feature that debuted with the standard iPhone 14 line last year. “This is a win for consumers as back glass repairs have been outrageously expensive on the high-end models until now, costing as much as $550,” iFixit said in its teardown video.

iFixit also examined the phone’s titanium frame and came away less than impressed. While noting that titanium is dirtier to produce than stainless steel and aluminum (mocking Apple’s “Mother Nature” skit in its launch event), the site also said the material scratches easily. “Unfortunately for the cool factor, we found that the color on the titanium shell scratches easily, a process that is only satisfying under the magnificent magnification of the microscope,” the teardown video said. “I could scratch this thing up all day.”

Elsewhere, iFixit found that the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s logic board appears to be the same as the one in the iPhone 15 Pro, and you have to remove the speaker and Taptic Engine to access the battery-removal tabs. Interestingly, the website also noted that the main and wide camera sensors on the iPhone 15 Pro Max appear identical to those on the iPhone 14 Pro Max, suggesting the “Tetraprism” periscope lens, which enables 5x optical zoom, is the only hardware-based camera update this year. “Any improvement in image quality has more to do with a new A17 SoC than the camera hardware itself,” iFixit said.

Dinging Apple for parts pairing appears primed to stand as a primary focus of iFixit’s Apple teardowns from now on. The repair advocacy website views it as significant enough of a problem to have lowered the iPhone 14’s repairability score from 7 out of 10 to 4 out of 10 nearly a year after launch because of it. “And as we’ve now come to expect, each year brings new parts pairing issues and bugs,” the video said. “This year’s edition is the LiDAR sensor, which now crashes if the sensor is swapped out. Calibration issue or not, these bugs need to be fixed, or else they might as well be paired with the logic board with a tiny Apple warning saying, ‘Hey, this phone is property of Apple.’”

Due to the parts pairing requirement, iFixit gave the iPhone 15 Pro Max a mere 4 out of 10 repairability score. “This phone won't accept salvaged parts, it complicates at-home repair, and it won't be any fun for your local repair tech,” the website said.