Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!
  • Did you order new AirTags? We've opened a dedicated AirTags forum.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
52,473
14,166


iFixit has discovered that it is not possible to repair the iPhone 12's camera without access to Apple's proprietary, cloud-linked System Configuration app, raising questions over the repairability of the device.

ifixit-iphone-12-camera.jpg


iFixit says that it conducted exhaustive testing, compared notes with multiple repair technicians, and reviewed leaked Apple training documents to reach the conclusion that the iPhone 12's camera "is entirely unreliable when swapped between iPhones."

The matter was first addressed by Hugh Jeffreys on YouTube:


After detecting "extremely odd results" when conducting a camera repair, iFixit found that the iPhone 12 camera, when transferred to another iPhone 12, appears to work on launch, but fails in actual use. It reportedly refuses to switch to the ultrawide camera, responds only to certain camera modes, and occasionally becomes completely unresponsive.

iFixit also recalled that until now, cameras have "generally been easy" to swap between iPhones of the same model. Although similar, resolvable issues occurred with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8's LCD screens and Taptic Engines, iFixit believes that there is now more cause for concern.

Apple's internal training guides for the iPhone 12, seen by iFixit, reportedly said that starting with the 12, authorized technicians will need to run Apple's proprietary, cloud-linked System Configuration app to fully repair cameras and screens.

Although it may theoretically be possible to complete camera and screen repairs without Apple's proprietary technology, iFixit is pessimistic about what the move means for independent repairs.

Apple, by design or neglect or both, is making it extremely hard to repair an iPhone without their blessing... It doesn't look good for independent repair. Apple is putting yet another question mark on a core component of the iPhone. Why? Why does a camera need to have its serial number authorized remotely by Apple just to let someone take pictures with their phone?

It is possible that Apple could address the iPhone 12's camera swap behavior with a future software update, but iFixit believes this is unlikely.

Taken together with the System Configuration document, and all the other bugs, tricks, and intentional lock-outs that Apple has put in the way of fully functioning iPhones, we take this as a sign that things won't get any better unless there is major change—from within, from customer demand, or from the law.

There is an argument to suggest that warning an iPhone owner about non-genuine parts, especially if the phone was bought used, is useful information, but iFixit notes that the camera module is not a security component.

It's a part prone to malfunction and damage, and can be harvested from otherwise-broken iPhones. Putting an authentication check on a simple camera swap poisons the iPhone repair and resale market. With no obvious benefit for iPhone buyers, it reeks of greed. Or worse: planned obsolescence.

Last week, iFixit scored the iPhone 12 a six out of ten for repairability. In response to this discovery about the camera module, iFixit is now actively reevaluating how its repairability scale scores iPhones going forward.

Article Link: iPhone 12 Camera Repairs Require Apple's Proprietary System Configuration Tool
 
Last edited:
  • Angry
  • Like
Reactions: adib and macfacts

jav6454

macrumors P6
Nov 14, 2007
17,024
2,044
1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
Many might argue the camera is not a security component. I do see it as such. Yes, it's a pain. But I'd rather pay the cost to have a functional camera vs a copy-cat module half-baked.

In the end, if I bought a iPhone for the point-and-shoot, I might as well ensure the camera works as intended by the manufacturer.
 
Comment

[AUT] Thomas

macrumors 6502a
Mar 13, 2016
676
821
Graz [Austria]
Enough... Right to Repair needs be put in law. Any arbitrary limitation to swap parts should result in ban of sale of the device.

Many might argue the camera is not a security component. I do see it as such. Yes, it's a pain. But I'd rather pay the cost to have a functional camera vs a copy-cat module half-baked.

In the end, if I bought a iPhone for the point-and-shoot, I might as well ensure the camera works as intended by the manufacturer.
Yeah, right. Bring it to Apple then, but allow the rest of us to turn 2 broken iphones into one working one...
 
Comment

stainless

macrumors member
Jul 2, 2007
45
74
Colorado
I believe and surprised that ifixit isn’t addressing is the amount of iPhones coming from China that are considered zombie iPhones. These are phones that are put together with a bunch of fake or stolen parts minus the few “required” Apple parts that are serialized. This is a much bigger market in China for these “fake, yet real” iPhones.

Additionally, if you bought your iPhone for the high end camera capabilities and you went to repair at the local “questionable but cheap” shop, they use a fake/cheap camera component and all of a sudden your Apple experience is crap and it’s not Apples fault but that of some other greedy person (not that Apple isn’t trying itself to be greedy!)

Thoughts?
 
Comment

Toratek

macrumors 6502
Oct 10, 2019
262
418
I don’t have the slightest interest in some drooling mall kiosk “technician” “repairing” my iPhone. Cameras on phones and iPad/Macs absolutely ARE a security issue, and I personally don’t trust anyone but Apple to work on security related items on my gear.

That’s entirely aside from the fact that “Ifixit” made NO effort to acknowledge that their “procedures” in the “test” may be the root cause of the “issues” they ”discovered” when they tried to swap cameras among devices. Having seen their “technicians” at work on their videos, I would not be the least bit surprised if they buggered the device up themselves.
 
Last edited:
Comment

JPack

macrumors 604
Mar 27, 2017
7,102
12,000
I believe and surprised that ifixit isn’t addressing is the amount of iPhones coming from China that are considered zombie iPhones. These are phones that are put together with a bunch of fake or stolen parts minus the few “required” Apple parts that are serialized. This is a much bigger market in China for these “fake, yet real” iPhones.

Additionally, if you bought your iPhone for the high end camera capabilities and you went to repair at the local “questionable but cheap” shop, they use a fake/cheap camera component and all of a sudden your Apple experience is crap and it’s not Apples fault but that of some other greedy person (not that Apple isn’t trying itself to be greedy!)

Thoughts?

Apple already has a Zombie check hardware tool. If it doesn't respond to the tool, the Apple Store sends the iPhone back to a service location for investigation before agreeing to replace it.

Your second point assumes the value of iPhone holds constant at $999 forever. There are plenty of iPhone X owners today who simply want to get their cracked display or non-focusing camera module replaced.
 
Comment

PJS_SoCal

macrumors newbie
Nov 10, 2017
21
69
iFixIt is making a mountain out of a molehill. I have owned every model of iPhone except the iPhone 4. I have never needed to perform a repair on a single one.

My OG iPhone had a faulty touchscreen and was replaced under warranty at about 4 months old. I had a similar issue with my iPhone 6 after about 2 months. I attribute both of these issues to initial production of an entirely new device design (I always purchase on launch day). Apple’s customer service was impeccable in both situations.

Aside from these two ‘infant mortalities’ which didn’t require a repair, I have never needed to fix anything on an iPhone or even replace a battery. For the vast majority of iPhone users, repair is a hypothetical situation.

iPhones are crazy reliable devices and keep getting more reliable every year.
 
Comment

idrewuk

macrumors regular
Aug 15, 2008
178
64
I’m missing the point of ‘iFixIt’ completely. Who are they? Why is this of interest to 99% of buyers? Most people I imagine couldn’t give a toss about whether their iPhone components are glued together or a camera module can’t be repaired.
 
Comment

Mr_Brightside_@

macrumors 68040
Sep 23, 2005
3,485
1,622
Toronto
iFixIt is making a mountain out of a molehill. I have owned every model of iPhone except the iPhone 4. I have never needed to perform a repair on a single one.

My OG iPhone had a faulty touchscreen and was replaced under warranty at about 4 months old. I had a similar issue with my iPhone 6 after about 2 months. I attribute both of these issues to initial production of an entirely new device design (I always purchase on launch day). Apple’s customer service was impeccable in both situations.

Aside from these two ‘infant mortalities’ which didn’t require a repair, I have never needed to fix anything on an iPhone or even replace a battery. For the vast majority of iPhone users, repair is a hypothetical situation.

iPhones are crazy reliable devices and keep getting more reliable every year.
You're replacing your phone every year, of course you are going to find them reliable.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.