The Eternal Dilemma: Balancing iPhone’s Durability with Repairability

Apple’s arguably the smartphone company that moves the flat-plate dial furthest towards infinity each year with every iteration of the iPhone. But even Apple can’t deny that as mobile devices become more and more complex, the ultimate goal of a fail-safe device is in deep tension with the realities of make-it-repairable. This dialogue is broader – it gets at the intersection of environmental issues and the future of smartphone technology.

APPLE’S Ultimate Goal: A Fail-Proof iPhone

Apple’s ostensible mission is simple: build a phone that never fails. By making everything last longer and reducing the number of replacements and repairs, the company would achieve obvious goals such as customer satisfaction and less environmental damage. But as Ternus points out, it’s not that simple, especially when it comes to determining the battery life for an iPhone, or, as in the case of the iPhone 7, figuring out how to make the phone completely waterproof.

The Battery Predicament: Longevity vs. Repairability

Most importantly, at the heart of any smartphone – including the iPhone – is the battery. Lithium-ion batteries have an average lifespan, and so, when they start to degrade, the user either has to buy a new phone or just a new battery. Apple does provide a battery-replacement service, but only after going through a few hoops – including the increasingly common hoop of waterproofing. There’s been a lot of scrutiny of this lately, with Apple’s own iPhones now achieving the IP68 rating, and the resultant total encasing of phones in rigorous sealing and glue (as with the iPhone 15 series, for example). While not requiring any specific kind of battery, this waterproofing comes at the cost of repairability – especially when it comes to replacing the battery.

The IP68 Paradox: Waterproof Yet Hard to Repair

An IP68 rating is no small feat. It shows that the iPhone can be immersed in water, a real advance in improving durability. however, the waterproofing required a sealed iPhone that makes it harder (or more expensive) to replace the battery, and so to maintain it over its life. This is the IP68 paradox: work to extend the life of the device (by making it waterproof) shortens its life (by making it harder to repair, particularly in relation to the battery).

Exploring Alternatives: The Potential of Solar Power

This is brought into the conversation with Ternus, where we consider alternative energy, including Powerfoyle, a light-harvesting material with low toxicity. Although Apple has experimented with solar power before; multiple patents from 2011 talk about ways to integrate this technology into their products, none of this has come to bear fruit in an iPhone. The question then becomes: would solar be a viable alternative to current battery technology in our phones?

Apple’s Patent Moves: A Glimpse into the Future?

In fact, Apple’s recent patent application for a detachable battery system was filed just last year, suggesting the tech giant might be turning a corner. Patents don’t always predict future products, of course. But after a decade of such ‘feature leakage’, Apple’s move is interesting, especially as it relates to the links that have been drawn between battery recycling, device repairability, and longevity.

Striking the Balance: Durability vs. Eco-Friendly Repair

The quest for the perfect iPhone – and the problems it brings to Apple – are not just driven by a relentless desire to innovate. A waterproof, indestructible iPhone that never breaks is certainly appealing. But if it’s as difficult to repair as an iPhone 6, and requires replacing the battery as often, then perhaps it’s not even remotely greener.


Apple Inc. is an innovative technology company that has been on the cutting edge of technological development, design and environmental sustainability for many years. The corporation was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in a small garage in California. Since then, Apple has grown to be one of the largest tech companies in the world. Apparel and peripherals of Apple Inc. The company’s product line, including its iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, iMacs and iPads, is extensive. Some of them release dozens of new designs every year. Apple’s products are always on the cutting edge of technological developments that combine the consumer demand with environmental stewardship.

Jun 02, 2024
<< Go Back