It can be hard to predict what will happen when you visit an Apple Store to get your iPhone repaired.
Apple’s warranty for most products covers eligible repairs for its products, including the iPhone, for a year after purchase.
But what’s an eligible repair? Damages specifically not covered include anything stemming from “accident, disassembly, unauthorized service, and unauthorized modifications.”
A 22-page document recently leaked on Dropbox shows how Apple instructs its technicians and authorized service partners to inspect iPhones for repair and determine whether they are eligible for an in-warranty repair (inexpensive) or an out-of-warranty repair (more expensive) – or if it’s a problem Apple can’t fix (you need a new phone).
The document seen by Business Insider, called the “Visual/Mechanical Inspection Guide,” is dated March 3, 2017, and covers the iPhone 6, 6S, and 7, as well as the associated Plus models. Apple technicians called Geniuses call it a “VMI.”
“We have one just like that for all of the products,” one Apple retail technician told Business Insider. “Used more for the physical inspection and how to determine cost for damage. That’s basically half the training for iPhone techs.”
VMIs are “something we use, but we don’t refer to it all that often unless we get some oddball issue,” another Apple technician told Business Insider. “We can normally pick out abnormal issues without using it.”
So what does the VMI look like? This chart provides an overview, with photos, about common issues that are covered:
Most of this should not be a surprise if you’re a longtime Apple user. If your iPhone has water damage, you’ll have to pay.
The guide includes which questions a technician should ask if they think a phone has water damage and shows that they must take apart the phone before denying warranty coverage.
However, it is worth noting that a single hairline crack is covered under warranty, which appears to be a change since 2014. (Older versions of the guide are available online.) And if you’re seeing dead pixels on your screen, you have to specifically ask for them to be fixed.
Other parts of the guide focus on identifying an iPhone’s internals and whether any parts have been swapped. Any device with a non-Apple battery or missing parts is ineligible for service.
Another thing Apple won’t fix is cosmetic damage:
If you have a problem not covered in this guide, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a repair under warranty.
An Apple retail employee told Business Insider that the VMI wasn’t the last word on whether a repair is covered – at least unofficially.
“There are always those one-off issues that the phone is technically not covered under warranty but we swap the phone anyways under warranty,” an Apple technician said.
Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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