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Screen repairs – Apple reverses anti-fix measure

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Apple is set to go back on its controversial decision to sabotage third-party screen repairs on iPhone 13 models.

Independent repair shops have been complaining that the architecture of the iPhone 13 means that a simple display replacement – one of the most common repairs for iPhone owners – will stop Face ID from working entirely.

That’s because the display module is paired with a control chip, presumably as an anti-tampering measure. But the reality is that decoupling the two in order to replace the screen causes the Face ID module to break. If the device senses the original display is no longer in place, you can say goodbye to facial recognition and hello to passcodes.

This has been a huge issue for small repair shops at it needlessly overcomplicates the process. One workaround has been to desolder the control chip and then reattach it along with the new display. That’s extra work and extra risk for a job that should be relatively cheap and simple.

Note that this issue only affected independent repair shops. Those authorized and trained by Apple can use a software tool to pair the new display with the old control chip, ensuring everything keeps working. It’s almost as though Apple was just trying to make things difficult for unauthorized fixers. iFixit went as far as to call it a “trap” that “could change the repair industry forever.”

But however cynical you want to be about the motives behind this, Apple has apparently been called out on it and has agreed to reverse the change with a software fix. That means that pending a future iOS update (most likely iOS 15.2) indie repair shops will once again be able to perform screen replacements without fear of breaking anything.

Considering the price of repairs from the official Apple Store (if you don’t have AppleCare), we think a lot of users will be very happy to once again have the option of a third-party alternative.