Become a MacRumors Supporter for $50/year with no ads, ability to filter front page stories, and private forums.

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
59,280
23,257


An inability to replace the iPhone 13's display without breaking Face ID could have a major impact on companies that offer iPhone repairs, iFixit said today in an article advocating for Right to Repair laws.

iphone-13-face-id-display-repairs.jpg

iFixit first pointed out this repair issue in its iPhone 13 Pro teardown, and has confirmed it with multiple tests. Replacing the display of the iPhone 13 renders Face ID non-functional, so at-home repairs are not an option. Swapping an iPhone 13's display with a display from a new iPhone 13 results in an error message that says "Unable to activate Face ID on this iPhone."

An iPhone display repair, which could previously be done with hand-held tools, now requires a microscope and microsoldering tools or access to Apple's Independent Repair Provider Program, which repair shops have criticized for its "draconian" contracts and requirements.

At issue is a small microcontroller that pairs the iPhone 13 to its display. Apple does not have a tool that allows iPhone owners or repair shops not affiliated with Apple to pair a new screen to an iPhone 13. Authorized technicians who do work with Apple need to use Apple Services Toolkit 2 to log a repair to Apple's cloud services, thereby syncing the serial numbers of the iPhone and the display.

Some repair shops have found a workaround, but it is difficult and work intensive. A soldered chip must be moved from the original screen to the replacement, which iFixit says is "completely unprecedented" as screen repair is "incredibly common" and accounts for a good amount of the revenue that independent repair shops bring in.

iFixit says that Apple's decision to disable Face ID with a screen repair could cause small repair outlets to shut down, spend thousands on new equipment, or lose out on Apple repairs. The site also does not believe that the Face ID repair issue is an accident, as Apple has previously introduced similar repair restrictions for Touch ID, True Tone functionality with display repairs, and iPhone 12 cameras.
Technically, yes: Face ID failure could be a very specific hardware bug for one of the most commonly replaced components, one that somehow made it through testing, didn't get fixed in a major software update, and just happens to lock out the kind of independent repair from which the company doesn't profit.

More likely, though, is that this is a strategy, not an oversight. This situation makes AppleCare all but required for newer iPhones, unless you happen to know that your local repair shop is ready for the challenge. Or you simply plan to never drop your phone.
Other independent repair shops that iFixit spoke to believe that Apple has implemented this change in an effort to "thwart a customer's ability to repair," directing iPhone owners to Apple retail locations or Apple Authorized Service Providers for help with their displays.

With the iPhone 12, camera repairs initially required Apple's proprietary system configuration tool to function properly, and cameras that were replaced were non-functional. Apple addressed this issue with an update that notifies customers that the camera in their device might not be genuine, but doesn't disable it entirely. Apple could do something similar for Face ID in a future update, but it's not clear yet if that will happen.

Customers with an iPhone 13 would be best served by visiting an Apple Authorized Service Provider or an Apple Store for any kind of repair due to the difficulty of display replacements and the potential for Face ID failure. Without AppleCare+, display repairs are expensive, priced between $229 to $329 for Apple's iPhone 13 models.

Article Link: iPhone 13 Screen Replacements Can Break Face ID, a Repair Restriction iFixit Calls 'Completely Unprecedented'
 
Last edited:

LogicalApex

macrumors 65816
Nov 13, 2015
1,093
1,499
PA, USA
I get their reasoning for FaceID being something that isn’t easy to tamper with since it is used to secure payments for cards in the Wallet app.

But they should still have the camera/Face ID module be seperated from the screen so it can be replaced independently allowing third party shops teh ability to repair the screen, but not the Face ID unit itself.

This is definitely going to cause a lot of pain for third party shops and users who skip Apple Care+.
 

connormw

macrumors member
Mar 24, 2018
53
396
New York
Apple expecting to push less volume in the holidays and into 2022 due to the chip shortage?

Let's compensate with some more Services revenue!

Seriously though - the fact that a screen replacement essentially renders the phone less secure is asinine. We all know Apple did this on purpose, they have been trying to flaunt Right to Repair for years (remember years ago when replacing the screen resulted in pop-ups about unauthorized hardware?). This is just another step down that path, just like soldering all components to the logic board on Macs, making non-Apple upgrades or repairs impossible.
 

SamRyouji

macrumors regular
Jun 1, 2016
205
754
I get it. Doing this could heavily impact any independent repair shops from the smallest to the largest.

But it's a double-edged sword:
At most countries, iPhone thefts are so problematic. Why? Even though we iPhone users could lock our iPhones and render it unusable, those thieves could still rip them apart and sell those parts to independent repair shops. By making this simple and oh-so-common screen replacement process near-impossible, Apple further make iPhone not as sexy and profitable to thieves compared to other phones.

At the end of the day, this positive effect make me support Apple's decision. You may disagree with me though, it's called "agree to disagree" a.k.a democracy. :)
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
13,372
17,620
E010928B-D476-4EF8-A659-C94DB3468E3B.jpeg
I don’t know if anyone has picked up on this yet, but many moves Apple makes seems to be in order to make it more difficult for the likes of intelligence agencies and their vendors to tamper with devices. There’s a reason that even the connection between components in FaceID are encrypted on device.

To cut down on practices like this towards high profile targets: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...tory-show-cisco-router-getting-implant/?amp=1
 

chrisdazzo

macrumors 65816
Apr 11, 2006
1,066
1,219
Mountains
This will be an unpopular opinion, but I'm 100% fine with this if it means I can trust the shop repairing my Apple product to do it properly, and with OEM Apple components. Kinda comes down to "if you don't like the policy, don't buy the product in the first place". Let your wallet speak.

Related, I recently had a non-AASC tell me they sold/use Apple OEM parts, and then the display fell off my iMac because they were using the wrong parts.
 

easy4lif

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2005
500
987
Southbay CA
In an era where everyone has their personal information on mobile phones including but not limited to…

Credit cards
Driver license
Car/home keys
Vaccination info
Private messages
Location history
Political affiliation
Web history

Apple has to create as many security measures as possible.

Hackers only need to break in once to humiliate Apple. Remember the icloud scandal
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.