For a long time now, Apple has been slowly but surely chipping away at the market share of iPhone repairs performed by third parties. They may be seeking to break the market with the upcoming iPhone 14 improvements; absolutely screen on the new iPhone 14 has been replaced, and Face ID no longer works.
Numerous phone repair store professionals who specialize in phone repairs have corroborated our findings after conducting extensive testing on various devices running iOS 15 and iOS 15.1.
This is a bad time for fixers, both DIY and professional phone repair stores. Repairing is one of the most common issues with modern smartphones used only to require a screwdriver and a screw, but now you need a microscope. This implies that DIY iPhone screen repair is out of the question unless you’re willing to forego some crucial features.
Because Apple is the most popular brand for repair technicians to work on, this development also has far-reaching consequences for the industry. Unless they can afford to invest tens of thousands of dollars in new machinery, many mom-and-pop cell phone repair stores may be forced to close their doors.
Stores that care about their customers’ privacy won’t be able to thrive if they have to join Apple’s restrictive IRP network; therefore, they’ll have to learn how to micro solder to bypass the iPhone’s security features.
Only Apple could have implemented this. This was brand-new in the iPhone 13, and it’s unclear how it serves as a security safeguard. This is the most compelling argument in favor of right-to-repair legislation. It’s all down to a tiny chip, about the size of a Tic-Tac, that sits at the base of the screen.
This tiny microcontroller connects the iPhone 14’s display to the rest of the device, a process known as “serialization” by service technicians. Apple has not allowed users or third-party retailers to pair a replacement display.
By registering the repair to Apple’s cloud servers and syncing the phone and screen serial numbers, replacement screens can be made functional for devices if performed by an authorized technician with access to Apple’s proprietary software, Apple Services Toolkit 2. Apple can now decide whether or not to allow a particular repair request.
A Clever Hack
The most technically advanced phone repair stores have discovered a clever hack, but it’s not a simple and clever hack; rather, it requires physically transferring a soldered component from the broken screen to the new one. Below, we’ll go into greater depth about that procedure, but just know it’s unprecedented for now.
The need to repair or replace a screen is extremely prevalent. Many thousands of repair shops worldwide help their local economies by offering affordable screen replacement services to their consumers. And Apple seems to sever the industry in two with one swift move.
Let’s get into the specifics of the technology. The most recent official iPhone software update, iOS 16.02, was used to test it for iPhone repair services. The problem message “Unable to activate Face ID on this iPhone” appears when the screen from an identical brand-new iPhone 14 is swapped out for an iPhone 14s screen.
After years of repair-blocking problems with Touch ID, batteries, and cameras, it’s difficult to think that Apple’s most recent iPhone part lock-out is an accident. According to our engineers, since Face ID’s scanner is completely independent of the display, maintaining its functionality after a screen switch should be simpler.
Technically, yes: Face ID failure could be caused by a very specific hardware flaw for one of the most frequently replaced parts that somehow made it through testing, didn’t get fixed in a significant software update, and just so happens to prevent the kind of independent repair from which the company doesn’t profit.
However, it is more likely that this is a plan and not a mistake. This condition makes AppleCare all but necessary for newer iPhones unless you just know that your neighborhood phone repair store is up to the task. Or you just decide never to drop your phone.
There is anxiety among the repair technicians we spoke with and in the closed repair discussion forums. The three options currently available to technicians are purchasing new tools and undergoing further micro soldering training. Join one of Apple’s “authorized” repair networks (either the Independent Repair Program or AASP, both of which could be charitably described as “incredibly restrictive”), or find another line of work. Of course, there is a fourth choice: fight valiantly for the right to repair.
Apple is probably displaying this warning to deter customers from using third-party batteries that might be refurbished or hazardous. Not well received was the news that the business would only allow Apple or authorized service providers to replace iPhone batteries, regardless of how much less expensive they could be.
While getting a third-party battery won’t prevent your iPhone from working — SD Cell Plus, a cell phone repair store in Murfreesboro, has confirmed that Apple won’t throttle your iPhone or do anything similar — it is best to go to Apple or an Apple Service Provider to replace your battery.
Apple has crossed the line by securing their products’ most popular device repair. We must enact right-to-repair legislation to safeguard repair businesses from this monopolistic, exploitative activity if we want them to continue operating in our local phone repair store communities.