Apple has announced that it will abandon its intention to disable Face ID on iPhones that have been serviced by third parties. When “unauthorised” iPhone 13 screen repairs started resulting in malfunctioning Face ID systems, Apple’s sometimes tumultuous relationship with the repair community was put to the test once more. Apple “will release a software update that doesn’t require you to transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap,” according to a recent claim from The Verge.
The most common smartphone repairs are screen replacements. The iPhone 13’s display has a new microprocessor that connects each screen to the phone’s other components. Apple would disable the phone’s Face ID feature if a third-party repair shop changed the iPhone 13 display, according to iFixit.
This part-dependency tendency has been dubbed “serialisation” by the repair community. In a nutshell, each protected component sends a serial number to the operating system, and the software maintains track of which serial numbers the device should have. When you replace a component, one of the serial numbers will change, and the OS will notice. “Unable to activate Face ID on this iPhone,” the phone would say in the event of third-party iPhone 13 screen replacements.
Authorized Apple repair shops have access to proprietary Apple software that re-enables Face ID by pairing a new display microcontroller with the rest of the phone. Unauthorized businesses can switch the display microcontrollers, but this adds a significant amount of effort to the most typical phone repair and necessitates the use of a microscope and precise desoldering work. Because Face ID is a separate component from the display on the iPhone 13, there’s no compelling reason to lock it following a display change. According to iFixit, the end result was a “unprecedented lockdown” that “allows Apple to approve or disapprove any individual repair.”