When the iPhone 13 launched earlier this year, iFixit called the device “a new low for repairability.” citing its aggressive anti-repair safeguards. A similar safeguard makes an appearance in the new Pixel 6, but much to Google’s credit, it serves a clear purpose and does not prevent at-home or “unauthorized” repairs.
In case you missed it, the iPhone 13’s Face ID functionality breaks when you replace the device’s screen without help from an “authorized” technician. While the Pixel 6 doesn’t have Face ID (or any Face Unlock functionality, for that matter), iFixit found that its fingerprint reader will stop working if you replace its display. (If your fingerprint reader isn’t working right now, Google has a few quick fixes.)
But unlike Apple, which provides no reasoning for its iPhone 13 repair safeguards, Google is surprisingly transparent here—performing repairs or part replacements could make your fingerprint sensor less accurate, so you need to calibrate it after certain repairs. Google provides a free tool to calibrate your fingerprint sensor at home, and this tool launched with the Pixel 6.
There’s one major footnote to this story. Apple recently told The Verge that it will remove the iPhone 13’s anti-repair safeguards in a future software update. While I wish that we could turn around and say “the iPhone 13 is more repairable than the Pixel 6 now,” that’s technically not true. The Pixel 6 repair process looks quite simple in iFixit’s short teardown video, and you can even replace its display without using adhesive.
And from a customers’ standpoint, it’s frustrating to see Apple abandon its anti-repair safeguards without ever explaining why these safeguards exist. The company has done this two years in a row, by the way—it went through this exact same process when the iPhone 12 launched.