Apple's New Screen Repair scheme can change repair industry massively
Apple's New Screen Repair scheme can change repair industry massively Image Credits: iFixit

Apple’s New Screen Repair scheme can change repair industry massively – iFixit
Apple's new screen repair program has the potential to significantly alter the repair sector, here is what we know:

Apple's New Screen Repair scheme can change repair industry massively
Apple’s New Screen Repair scheme can change repair industry massively
Image Credits: iFixit

For years, Apple has been chipping away at iPhone repair work that is outside of their control. With the latest modifications to the iPhone 13, they may be seeking to entirely disrupt the market.

Whenever the screen of the new iPhone 13 is replaced, the flagship Face ID function is completely deactivated. We’ve demonstrated this several times in our lab, testing with a range of phones on iOS 15 and 15.1, and our findings have been confirmed by a number of repair professionals.

It’s a bad day for fixers, both amateur and professional. One of the most basic phone repairs, which could formerly be done with hand tools, now necessitates the use of a microscope. This implies you won’t be able to repair your iPhone screen without compromising significant functionality.

It also has far-reaching repercussions for the professional repair business, where Apple is the leading brand. Small businesses may be compelled to close, having to choose between spending thousands of dollars on new equipment or losing a key source of income.

Stores who wish to remain will have to join Apple’s onerous IRP network, which is not an option for shops that respect their customers’ privacy or work around the iPhone’s locks with micro-soldering equipment and training. This extraordinary lockdown is only available from Apple.

It’s completely new with the iPhone 13, and it’s difficult to interpret as a security feature because the Face ID illuminator is completely independent of the screen. It is most certainly the best argument yet for right-to-repair legislation. And it’s all down to a chip the size of a Tic-Tac that’s nestled into the bottom of a screen.

Apple new repair step taken for its smartphones
Apple new repair step taken for its smartphones
Image Credits: iFixit

This little microprocessor connects the iPhone 13 to its screen, a process repair technicians refer to as “serialization.” Apple has not made it possible for owners or independent retailers to connect a new screen.

Authorized technicians with access to Apple’s proprietary software, Apple Services Toolkit 2, may make new screens work by reporting the repair to Apple’s cloud servers and synchronizing the phone and screen serial numbers. This allows Apple to accept or disapprove of each individual repair.

The most advanced repair shops have discovered a fix, but it is not a quick, clever hack—it requires physically putting a soldered chip from the original screen onto the replacement. We’ll go into more depth about that procedure below, but it’s worth noting how unprecedented this is.

The replacement of a screen is quite frequent. Tens of thousands of repair businesses throughout the world help their communities by changing screens at reasonable costs for clients. And Apple appears to be severing the industry’s legs in one fell swoop.

Screen replacements contributed to more than 35% of sales at Fruit Fixed, a regional repair chain in Virginia, according to Justin Drake Carroll, CEO, and founder. “It was at 60% a few years ago,” we said, “and we worked very hard to get it down so that one revenue source would not account for such a huge chunk of what we do.” Obviously, it remains a critical component of our business strategy.”

“This IC [chip] switch thing is a disaster, and we absolutely must reject it,” said Justin Ashford, a repair firm consultant, and popular YouTube repair teacher. “As a result, our industry’s core maintenance approach must shift… this is the new fundamental.” The first instrument you’ll need in the future is a microscope.”

Let’s get this party started. We put it through its paces on iOS 15.1, the most current official iPhone software version. When you replace an iPhone 13’s screen with the identical exact screen from a brand new iPhone, you receive the following error: “Unable to activate Face ID on this iPhone.”

Apple has made no official remarks on the subject. Dusten Mahathy, a seasoned repair expert, reported that Apple support advised a friend in Apple’s Independent Repair Program that the issue will be rectified in an iOS update.

The only change we’ve seen is that in 15.0, the Face ID function did not work silently, however in the latest version, it shows a clear error message. Apple was asked for comment, but they did not answer.

After years of repair-blocking issues with Touch ID, batteries, and cameras, it’s impossible to believe Apple’s latest iPhone part lock-out is an oversight. Because the scanner is fully independent of the display, maintaining Face ID active on the iPhone 13 after a screen change should be easier than ever before, according to our engineers.

Yes, technologically: Face ID failure could be a very particular hardware bug for one of the most frequently replaced components, one that somehow made it all the way through testing, wasn’t fixed in a major software update, and just happens to lock out the type of independent repair from which the company does not profit.

However, this is more likely to be a purposeful strategy than an error. This problem makes AppleCare practically obligatory for newer iPhones unless you are confident that your local repair shop is capable of doing the job. Or maybe you just don’t want to lose your phone.

There is concern among the repair technicians we spoke with, as well as inside private repair discussion groups. Technicians are prepared for three immediate options: buy new equipment and training technicians for micro soldering work, join Apple’s “authorized” repair network (AASP or the Independent Repair Program—both of which may be charitably described as “very limited”), or find other jobs. There is, of course, the fourth option: fight tooth and nail for the right to repair.

Micro soldering is a sophisticated craft that necessitates the purchase of thousands of dollars in equipment, as well as lengthy, practice before becoming adept.

Many repair firms that previously worked largely with bigger parts above the logic board level will be challenged by the technical skills and time necessary.


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