Pentalobe Screws from Apple Likely Adult-Proof, But Are They Childproof, Too?

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Apple is trying to prevent users from tampering with their new products, but have they met today's tech-savvy kids?

Apple stores in the United States are replacing the screws on iPhones that are brought in for servicing with a type of screw that is intended to prevent users from opening their own phones.

The idea is that laypeople shouldn’t try to replace their own batteries, and that the new Pentalobe screws will help them achieve a more Fort Knox-like seal on the iPhones. Phones under warranty by Apple receive free batteries if necessary, but otherwise there is a $79 charge for new batteries. Understandably, Apple would like to be the recipient of its customers’ $79 when a new battery is needed.

While I have no doubt that I’m enough of an idiot to not figure out how to open an iPhone or any other Apple device with the Pentalobe screw, or figure out how to obtain a Pentalobe screwdriver, which is not commercially available, I also have little doubt that my 2-year-old doesn’t need a user’s manual or a screwdriver to figure out how to unscrew a Pentalobe. She can get into anything, and routinely does.

I actually appreciate the effort by Apple to try and prevent me from harming my computer products (other Apple products have had the new screws for a few years). Of course I can harm then without unscrewing anything, like dropping my computer from the bed to the floor (Tuesday), or spilling a glass of water on my keyboard (March ’09). My daughter wreaks havoc on my laptop daily, as she’s figured out how to actually remove the Shift button. She thinks it makes a good piano in her dollhouse.

Kids seem scarily adept these days at all things technical. My 10-year-old nephew does things with wires that frighten me, but I’m guessing the local electrician would be impressed. I’m not sure there’s anything new about children being more technologically advanced than their elders; my parents still save any phone, DVD or other minor electrical installations for when I come to visit. The only difference is now I call anyone I know under the age of 18 for a consultation before I make any mistakes. My daughter is well on her way to surpassing any knowledge I have, although considering I have next to none, I suppose that won’t be such an amazing feat.

But Apple is correct to install new screws on their products, because I really have no business trying to unscrew anything, and considering my MacBook needs only a nickel to unscrew the battery, I’ll definitely be better off when I don’t attempt to solve any computer problems by taking out my battery to inspect it. I’m as well-equipped to deal with a computer or phone malfunction as I am to diagnose a knocking noise in the engine of my car. My daughter, on the other hand, will probably be able to figure out both before she turns three.

Are your kids tech-savvy?

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