Apple has promised to fix an issue with its iPhone 13, which means that screen repairs done by unofficial parts break its Face ID feature.
The model contains a chip that “pairs” a screen to a specific phone and requires special software tools to “pair” a new one.
Repair companies have found that without these tools, the facial identification security feature no longer works.
Apple, whose repairers use the tools, says it will release a software update.
The feature has been widely criticized by right-to-repair advocates, who suggest it was included to limit who could repair iPhones.
The problem was first reported by iFixit, a company specializing in tools, parts and technical guides for repair.
He labeled the new link between screen replacements and Face ID as a “dark day for repairers, both do-it-yourself and professional”.
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The repair company found that the new chip ensures that unless the replacement screen is “paired” with the phone’s unique serial number, Face ID won’t work.
The only known existing solution for independent or do-it-yourself repairers involves the delicate and laborious work of transplanting the chip from the old screen to the replacement.
The procedure requires specialist equipment and training, of which only a fraction of the repair shops were capable, according to iFixit.
It is unclear whether the problem was a bug or, as claimed by some right-to-repair advocates, was part of Apple’s broader move to limit third-party repairs.
Apple has often been labeled a major opponent of right to repair legislation, reportedly claiming that allowing consumers to repair their devices could cause injury.
Company co-founder Steve Wozniak, who made the first Apple machines in a garage with Steve Jobs in the 1970s, voiced support for the right to repair movement, saying Apple wouldn’t exist without the kind of tinkering enthusiasts. repairs are campaigning for.
Reacting to Apple’s commitment, Kevin Purdy of iFixit wrote: “It’s a good day, if media attention and public rejection have really forced Apple’s hand.”
But he also warned that it was “an endless struggle”.
“Apple – and the many companies it inspires – will move forward again with more part locks, more feature reductions, more reasons why only their profitable repair centers can do this job,” he said.
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