iFixit is breaking up with Samsung

iFixit and Samsung part ways. Two years after collaborating on one of the first direct-to-consumer phone repair programs, Kyle Wiens, CEO and co-founder of iFixit, said: The edge the two companies have failed to renegotiate a contract – and claim Samsung is to blame.

“Samsung doesn’t seem interested in enabling large-scale repair,” Wiens tells me, even though similar deals are going well with Google, Motorola and HMD.

He thinks Samsung’s abandonment shouldn’t really affect iFixit’s customers. Instead of being Samsung’s partner for genuine parts and approved repair manuals, iFixit will simply go it alone, the same way it always does with Apple iPhones.

Although Wiens would not say who technically Who he broke up with, he says price is the main reason the Samsung deal isn’t working: Samsung’s parts are so expensive and its phones remain so difficult to repair that customers simply won’t buy not.

More importantly, Samsung has only ever shipped batteries pre-glued to a phone’s entire screen to iFixit, charging consumers more than $160 even if they just want to replace a worn-out battery. This is something Samsung doesn’t do with other vendors, according to Wiens. Meanwhile, iFixit’s iPhone and Pixel batteries cost over $50.

iFixit claims that the deal with Samsung would also not allow it to help local repair shops, because the contract artificially limited iFixit to selling no more than seven parts per customer in a three-month period. “We haven’t been able to circulate parts in the volumes necessary to move the environmental needle,” says Wiens.

Last but not least, iFixit simply hasn’t been able to get official parts for the latest Samsung devices – in fact, 2022’s Galaxy S22 lineup was the last time iFixit added genuine parts for new Samsung phones. (Although Samsung added the S23, Z Flip 5, and Z Fold 5 to its self-repair program in December, it was with another vendor, Encompass; iFixit says it was left out. )

Was iFixit unaware of these restrictions before the deal? Yes, says Wiens – and this isn’t the first time an iFixit-Samsung deal has fallen through. He says he can’t tell me if Samsung promised things would be different this time.

The company still plans to stock Samsung replacement parts and publish repair guides, and it still has a stock of existing original parts. iFixit actually thinks it will sell more Samsung parts in the end. But it will no longer work with Samsung directly on repair manuals, and so iFixit’s manuals might be less detailed.

Samsung’s partnership with iFixit officially ends on June 17, according to Wiens, and he says he doesn’t think Samsung will violate right-to-repair laws once it does. In California, for example, Samsung will legally have to provide repair tools, parts, software and documentation for seven years when the law takes effect on July 1, 2024, for any device sold after July 1, 2021.

“We’re the ones who publish documents for them,” says Wiens, but I can see that Encompass’s Samsung Self Repair Services page already has some, if not all, official repair guides. Some of these guides also mention a Samsung Self Repair Assistant app, which is strangely not available on either Google Play or the Galaxy Store and must be downloaded in the US. Here is the APK downloadable from the Encompass website.

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In a blog post titled “We are ending our collaboration with Samsung” that iFixit will publish today, the company is not suggesting that Samsung perform a “fixer” or pursue any other sort of malicious compliance strategy.

We clearly didn’t learn our lesson the first time and let them convince us that they were seriously considering getting into the repair business.

We tried to make it work. My goodness, we tried. But with such divergent priorities, we can no longer move forward.

Samsung did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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