The display of Apple’s iPhone 13 reportedly disables Face ID after undergoing a third-party screen repair, says iFixit. The model first hit stores in September, and people were quick to release that Face ID would stop working if the display was subjected to any third-party repair. This eventually prompted iFixit to publish a detailed look at the change, where it calls the same a “dark day for fixes,” be it professional or DIY.
Much Harder to Fix
The new report apparently finds that it’s now much harder to carry out one of the most commonly-encountered phone repairs on the latest version of the iPhone. This could have serious implications on third-party repair shops, which might be forced to shut down altogether, as they struggle to choose between purchasing new equipment worth thousands of dollars, or “losing a major source of income.”
The change in question is that the phone’s system is paired to the device’s screen using something known as a microcontroller, through a process known as “serialization.” The problem is that there currently exists no way for phone owners or independent shops to pair a new screen, and only authorized technicians who have access to Apple Services Toolkit 2 can do so. They make things work by logging to repair to the cloud servers owned by Apple, followed by syncing the phone and screen’s serial numbers. By doing so, Apple has knowledge of every repair, and can approve or deny it.
If they don’t want to have their shops shut down, technicians can opt to join the Independent Repair Program led by Apple, but iFixit notes that shops that “value their customers’ privacy” won’t take such a step. There does exist one way to work around the repair, but it’s quite complicated, and, in iFixit’s words, “complicated.”
In order to fix things, they will have to physically transfer a soldered chip to the replacement from the original screen. If they fail to do so, they will be presented with an error message telling them that their “iPhone is unable to activate Face ID.” Prior to the new model, a similar problem was observed in iOS 15.0, but back then, Face ID would stop working silently instead of displaying an error.
Nevertheless, iFixit does admit that Apple is pretty much trying to cut the repair industry “off at the knees,” in what appears to be “one fell swoop.”