Apple would really like you to stop opening your hardware

January 20th, 2011 at 9:39 AM  1 Comment


Apple makes some beautifully engineered hardware, both on the outside and the inside. But Steve would really prefer you admire the exterior only, and Apple has started putting a special kind of security screw on your phone to keep all the amateurs out.

Not content with using your normal torx security screw, Apple has chosen a design that prohibits nearly every single readily available screw bit from being able to turn it. Say hello to the “pentalobe” bit.

The bit has appeared on the bottom of recently repaired iPhones returning from Apple, as well as MacBook’s made after 2009. Other Apple devices around the world have slowly started to come with the new pentalobe screw  as standard.

While it obviously doesn’t make it impossible to open an Apple device on your own, it makes it impractical for many. It also puts a road block in the way of independent repair shops, or even your IT department, from doing any type of repairs on your Apple hardware. With the iPhone or iPad, this isn’t as huge issue because legitimate users will rarely have a need to open up the case, but with the MacBook, the ability to upgrade RAM or change out a failed hard drive is now a lot more difficult.

Repair shop iFixit has pentalobe bits available for sale, both in iPhone and MacBook sized models. Their “iPhone Liberation Kit” runs for $9.95, while the MacBook Air version will cost you $12.95, and the one sized for your MacBook Pro is $14.95.

It’s nice that iFixit has these bits available, but Apple owners who want to open their devices may find that of little comfort when they don’t have them in their hands at the time they need to perform hardware repairs, and can’t run down to the Home Depot to get the driver they need.