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Best Buy stores could soon be home to Apple's secret screen-repair machines

Apple is giving its repair machines to third-party companies for the first times.

A cracked screen is seemingly a rite of passage for iPhone users, but for years Apple has kept access to its screen repair machines jealously guarded.

The tech giant insisted that owners requiring use of its so-called "Horizon Machine" needed to go to one of its 500 Apple stores, or by sending it to mail-in repair centers.

But Apple is changing tack, and Reuters reported earlier this week that it's going to give 400 of its repair machines to authorized third-party retailers in 25 countries by the end of the year – and one of them is Richfield-based Best Buy.

A Best Buy spokesman confirmed to GoMN that the first screen-repair machine is already in one of its stores in Miami, Florida, with the second coming soon to a store in Sunnyvale, California.

"We expect to have the machines in more stores in coming months," he added, "but we cannot provide details on store count and timing yet."

Reuters notes that waiting times for repairs at some of Apple's busier stores is one of the main reasons behind the expansion.

Move comes amid 'right to repair' fight

The move from Apple also comes after "right to repair" bills have appeared in at least eight U.S. states, including Minnesota. These bills are aimed at giving independent repair companies the authorization to fix Apple products and other high-tech gadgets.

This hasn't stopped small repair firms from offering to fix your iPhone, but Consumerist points out you won't get the same level of service as the Apple repair facilities.

For example, replacing a phone's fingerprint sensor damaged when the screen cracked can leave a phone "inoperable" if it's not repaired using the Horizon Machine.

And the risk of getting a repair from one of these vendors is that it can void your Apple warranty if they cause more damage to the phone.

It's been previously reported that many independent cellphone repair companies "exist in limbo" as they don't have access to official phone repair equipment, instead relying on supplies from Chinese grey markets that include salvaged parts from recycled devices to carry out their services.

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