iPhone 13: Apple’s new iPhone 13 has led to the tech giant being surrounded in a whole new controversy. An iFixit investigation has found that the replacement of the screen of the newly launched Apple phone by a third-party repair shop causes the Face ID functionality to be completely disabled. This means that any iPhone 13 users who choose to get their new phone screens repaired from unauthorised repair shops would not be able to use the Face ID feature anymore. The website said that the move seems to be deliberate on the part of Cupertino so that iPhone users do not go to third-party repair shops. This, it said, could lead to a complete dismantling of the iPhone repair industry, which the website branded as a “dark day for fixers, both DIY and professional”.
Also read | Right to Repair: What is it, why Apple is resisting while co-founder Steve Wozniak is supporting it
The repair by third parties is difficult due to a small microcontroller chip connecting the screen to the phone, and that chip has been tucked into the bottom of the screen. The website detailed that the iPhone 13 screen has a small microcontroller that needs to be paired with the newly replaced chip in order to enable the Face ID functionality, and this is only possible with the help of a secret software which is only available with repair partners authorised by the tech giant. In case a user forgoes the authorised repair shops, they would have to lose a major functionality. This means that users would choose to only go to authorised Apple partners for repairs, leading to huge implications for the professional repair industry, a lot of whose business comes from Apple users.
In case third-party repair shops want to survive this hindrance, they would either need to join Apple’s authorised repair service network, or they would need to invest in extensive equipment that would allow them to physically remove the chip that is soldered to the original screen and fix it on the replacement. Because of this, many repair shop personnel have now started to look for other work.
The Face ID error has been found to remain even if an original iPhone 13 Pro Max display was replaced with the original display from another iPhone 13 Pro Max, while both the phones were running on iOS 15.1. The website has said that Apple has been locking down repair for years now in its “monopolistic” behaviour.
The matter once again brings to light the debate around the Right to Repair movement, which seeks that tech companies provide gadgets and complimentary parts to users so that they can get their device fixed from third-party repair shops, in a bid to end the “monopoly” of tech giants on repair services. The proponents of the Right to Repair movement target Apple primarily, mainly because it is one of the largest target devices for the third-party repair shops and because it was one of the first companies to create an issue for unauthorised repair shops. Apple had introduced a proprietary five-point screw in its phones that could not be opened by anyone except for Cupertino-approved repair partners.
Apple, along with a lot of tech companies, is actively resisting the call for Right to Repair, even as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has lent his support to the movement.