Samsung, the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, announced Thursday that it will begin selling specific smartphone parts directly to customers so they can repair their own devices, mirroring similar announcements made by Apple and Microsoft.
The announcement is another sign that the right-to-repair movement is gaining steam, and that manufacturers see the status quo—where they have worked to secure repair monopolies over their devices—as perhaps politically untenable. President Biden in recent months has made right-to-repair one of his administration’s priorities, directing the Federal Trade Commission to determine whether the repair policies of major electronics and agricultural manufacturers are illegal.
Since the Biden administration has taken this position, Microsoft and Apple have both announced that they would begin selling certain parts to customers. On Thursday, Samsung announced “Galaxy device owners will be able to take product repair into their own hands for Samsung’s most popular models, the Galaxy S20 and S21 family of products, and the Galaxy Tab S7+ beginning this summer. Samsung said it was partnering with iFixit on the program and would also be providing customers with “genuine device parts, repair tools, and intuitive, visual, step-by-step repair guides.”
Samsung said it would make screens, back glass, and charging parts available to customers, and said that “in the future, Samsung plans to expand self-repair to more devices and repairs from our extensive product portfolio.”
Though Apple’s iPhones are the most popular smartphone in the United States, Samsung is still the world’s most popular smartphone manufacturer; an estimated 20 percent of all smartphones in the world are Samsung; Apple’s marketshare is around 17 percent, according to Business Standard.
This is a huge step forward for the electronics industry and more evidence that right-to-repair is succeeding as a political movement. It’s not quite as strong as a law that enshrines right-to-repair, however, which is what proponents in the movement are pushing for. Right now, we’re still relying on manufacturers to make moves like this based on public opinion and political pressure rather than force of law, and the vast majority of device manufacturers still do not sell repair parts to the public.