Apple told The Verge today that an upcoming software update will disarm a hardware lock on third-party screen replacements that broke Face ID functionality on the iPhone 13 series.
A little over a month after Apple unveiled the iPhone 13 lineup, the repair experts at iFixit discovered a trap built into the iPhone 13’s screen that disabled Face ID if it was replaced, even with another original iPhone 13 display.
The iPhone 13 display has a small microprocessor built into it, which ‘serializes’ or binds the display to a specific iPhone 13 unit. Replace the screen with another that doesn’t have the tiny microcontroller on it, and bye-bye Face ID.
The only way to ensure that didn’t happen was to get the screen replaced from Apple, or an Apple-authorized repair shop with access to a proprietary software tool capable of registering new screens to devices.
But most people would just prefer to get their screen replaced at their local, third-party repair shop— especially when out of warranty iPhone 13 repairs from Apple can cost up to a whopping $779.
A possible workaround is to remove the microprocessor from the old display and solder it onto the new one, but that’s challenging, time-consuming, and requires expensive equipment and microsoldering skills. Not to mention it’s prohibitively difficult for most independent repair shops.
Understandably, the move left the independent phone repair industry and DIY tinkerers in an uproar, pushing back against Apple for an egregious violation of consumers’ right to repair.
And it looks like Apple decided to do the right thing. Do-it-yourself (DIY) screen replacements will no longer disable Face ID on the iPhone 13 series following a firmware update that’s on the way. Apple has yet to specify an ETA for this update, though.
First, they listen to us about bringing back I/O ports on the MacBook Pro. Now, they’ve gone and done something completely unlike them — making third-party iPhone repairs easier. What’s next? Is Apple finally going to bring back the glowing Apple logo on MacBooks?