Not again. Apple reportedly disables iPhone 8 touch ability if cracked screens are fixed by third parties
Apple could potentially be in hot water again after it was reported that iOS 11.3 is bricking the touchscreen’s of iPhone 8 handsets.
Apple released iOS 11.3 at the end of March, and it is reported that the update is killing the touchscreen functionality in iPhone 8s repaired with some aftermarket screens, which had worked prior to the software update.
If the report is true, this is not the first time that Apple has done this. The ‘Error 53’ controversy for example erupted in 2016, prompting official investigations from a number of regulators around the world.
That controversy began in February 2016 when it emerged that an update to iOS had been disabling iPhones that had a replacement TouchID sensor installed by third party, rendering them completely useless.
When the problem gained publicity, Apple apologised for the issue and quickly released an update to the ‘Error 53’ issue.
But that update did not restore TouchID functionality to any affected device. And some regulators, including the Australian watchdog decided that was not good enough.
Motherboard cited Michael Oberdick, owner and operator of iOutlet, an Ohio-based pre-owned iPhone store and repair shop, who suspected that Apple would do this again.
“We don’t even do the 8 repairs this year, on purpose,” Oberdick told Motherboard. “I had a really good feeling that something like this was going to happen again.
And unfortunately it seems that Oberdick was right.
He discovered that iOS 11.3 was killing touch functionality in iPhone 8s repaired with some aftermarket screens that had worked prior to the update. And this opinion seems to be backed up by other repairers.
“This has caused my company over 2,000 reshipments,” Aakshay Kripalani, CEO of Injured Gadgets, a Georgia-based retailer and repair shop, told Motherboard. “Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair.”
According to Oberdick, the problem stems from the fact that every iPhone screen is powered by a small microchip, and that chip is what the repair community believes to be causing the issue.
Third-party screen suppliers have already diagnosed the small microchip as the culprit, but unfortunately it seems that fixing the bricked phones means re-opening up the phone and upgrading the chip.
“It’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole of thinking that Apple is trying to make it JUST inconvenient enough to even consider third-party repair a reliable option,” Kev Notton – founder of San Diego-based RepairMapr, a diagnosis tool that repair shops can use to annotate their repairs – told Motherboard. “That terrifies me, because they’re the manufacturer. Ultimately, they hold all the cards.”
Apple reportedly did not immediately respond to request for comment.
It remains to be seen whether Apple will issue a new software update that will fix these screens, like it did last time when the Error 53 row broke into the open.