[Editor’s Note: Several commenters have pointed out that the 5-point Torx screw is not unique to Apple gear, and although they are somewhat more difficult to work with than 6-point Torx or conventional screws, tools are readily available to remove them if needed. The actual ‘tamper resistant’ Torx TR screws have a center pin designed to prevent the use of alternative tools, which these screws do not have.
The question of whether the Torx replacements are primarily for mechanical or security reasons is not yet completely resolved. It is possible that the screw change has nothing to do with device security, but if it were simply a manufacturing change there is no reason Apple could not use 6-lobe Torx instead, which will work with the more common driver heads.
Finally, the original version of this post credited Cult of Mac for both the story and the accompanying image; we have since learned that the actual source was 9to5 Mac, and that CoM used the picture without crediting the site correctly. Our apologies.]
Apple has begun retro-fitting iPhone 4s brought in for service with
proprietary torx screws, meant to keep customers out. Similar to those used to keep the new MacBook Air sealed, these screws are of Apple’s own design and send a clear message: Do not enter.
What would prompt such a move? No doubt the cottage industry of after-market conversion kits of white casing parts has something to do with it. The anti-tampering screws are showing up on recently-purchased iPhone 4s as well.
On one hand, it’s an understandable move: Apple makes no money on those kits. On the other, it seems like dirty pool. I’ve almost always been able to open my Apple products and make at least some changes on my own, even cosmetic ones (like the white iPhone kits). Locking the iPhones and MacBook Airs down eliminates that option entirely.
Apple retro-fitting iPhone 4s with 5-point Torx screws originally appeared on TUAW on Mon, 22 Nov 2010 14:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.