Apple (APPL) has started replacing conventional the Phillips screws on its iPhone 4s with tamper-proof screws when the phones are brought in for service, Reuters reported, citing Apple parts suppliers and others familiar with the process.
Apple likely started swapping in the Pentalobe screws from Japan last fall, the wire service said. With the new screws in place, customers will have to go to Apple to get batteries replaced, which is free when the phone's under warranty but costs $79 when it's not, according to Reuters.
The company has long been known for both technology platforms that can't be integrated with those of other component makers, and for its secretive nature when it comes to its technology. Apple declined to comment on the matter to Reuters.
Apple sold more than 16 million iPhones during its most recently completed quarter. The company last month boosted its first-quarter iPhone shipments by as much as 10% to about 21 million deliveries, indicating that the company is confident of continued sales momentum despite growing competition from companies such as Research in Motion (RIMM), DigiTimes reported last month, citing people working with Taiwan-based component suppliers that it didn't identify.
The iPhone, which was first introduced in 2007 and whose fourth generation was unveiled in June, continues to be a significant profit source for Apple. In October, Apple said fiscal fourth-quarter earnings surged 70% from a year earlier, partially because almost doubled its iPhone sales over the period.