We Put Our Genius Theory to the Test

I didn’t grow up taking things apart. I don’t have a degree in electrical engineering. And before I started working at iFixit, I’d never tinkered with electronics. I remember stumbling on the iFixit listing for my job and thinking, “Dang, that looks sweet, but I’m completely unqualified.” So I shut my browser and tried to forget about it.

But I couldn’t forget. I was so enchanted by iFixit’s mission that I became borderline obsessed with the company and applied anyways. In my interview, I was super forthcoming about my technical ineptitude—and I’ll never forget what the CEO said in response: “I don’t care about what you don’t know. If you’re willing to learn, I will teach you the rest.”

✓: iPhone screen replacement

At that point, I thought this dude was either crazy naïve, or I’d just gotten away with highway robbery. But he was right—I did learn. And since then, I’ve replaced dozens of iPhone batteries, swapped a couple iPhone screens, and replaced the battery and upper case assembly in my 2012 MacBook Pro.

Looking back, it makes me sad to think about how fearful I was to try my hand at repair. But that fear was real—and now I know that’s exactly how big device manufacturers wanted me to feel.

I hate that. And I hate that I’m not the only one afraid. The fear of fixing has become so deeply ingrained in our society that we believe that only a Geek or a Genius can fix our stuff. But you don’t need to be a member of tech’s elite to repair your own things. I’m proof. And if you don’t believe me, we ran a little experiment to prove our point.

We asked four people who had never tried electronics repair before to try fixing a device using our parts, tools, and guides. None of our participants had a formal engineering degree, and they came from completely different professional backgrounds:

Genius #1: Katie
Occupation: Brewery Tap Room Manager
Repair: MacBook Pro battery replacement and RAM upgrade

Genius #2: Toni
Occupation: Substitute Teacher/Track Coach
Repair: Replacing a cracked iPhone screen

Genius #3: Marina
Occupation: Respiratory Care Practitioner
Repair: Replacing a dying iPhone battery

Genius #4: Michael
Occupation: Full-Time Student
Repair: Replacing the battery in his iPhone

So how did they do? See for yourself:

The best way to overcome our fear of repair is to just start fixing. Help us prove that there are repair geniuses who don’t sit behind the Genius Bar and empower others to stop fearing and start fixing by sharing a photo of your next repair with the hashtag #ImAGenius.