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Apple Switches iPhone Screws, Screws Modders

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Remember when legal purchases meant you officially owned a product? Do you recall when, after buying an item, you could do pretty much whatever you wanted with it? Take it apart, modify it, use it to prop up a table, if need be.

Ever since the RIAA forbade us from making personal copies of legally owned albums, manufacturers have infiltrated our private lives and tried to exert more control over how we use our property. Digital music came loaded with DRM, DVDs were copyright protected, video games wouldn't work unless it first logs into a private server, and mobile devices refused to run if the user unlocked it to install unapproved software.

Along with Sony, Motorola, and every major movie studio, Apple ranks as one of the worst offenders of controlling its products after they've been purchased. DRM still plagues iTunes video, Apple TV's USB port ships inoperable, and you're in for a big headache if you need to change the battery on an iPhone or iPod.

And now, that headache is about to turn into a migraine.

Apple is quietly swapping out the Phillips screws in the iPhone 4 assembly for a style that few users even knew existed. Courtesy of Gizmodo:

They're called "pentalobe security screws." And you thought finding an Allen wrench was a pain. Try looking for a tiny drill bit that would fit those.

These screws are popping up in more Apple products, like the new MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. They're meant to keep users from repairing or modifying Apple products -- devices they legally own -- by themselves. Rather, they're an extra incentive for customers to bring their devices to Apple Stores.

Which, of course, means extra money to Cupertino.

But you can never keep the modding community down. Covering Apple's diabolical scheme in a video, ifixit is selling a screwdriver kit which will work with these newfangled screws. The kit isn't exactly a steal at $9.95, but compared to an out-of-warranty repair from Apple, it's certainly more cost-effective.

Apple's Diabolical Plan to Screw your iPhone from iFixit on Vimeo.

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