DIY iPhone 13 Screen Replacement Disables Face ID, Says iFixit

Image: iFixit

Popular repair and teardown platform iFixit says Apple has taken yet another step towards crippling third-party repair work for its devices with the iPhone 13 lineup.

According to the repair experts, iPhone 13 series phones completely disable Face ID functionality when you replace the screen, even if the replacement screen is another original iPhone 13 display.

The iPhone 13’s display is paired to its logic board by a tiny microprocessor embedded in the screen, in a process known as “serialization.” That’s right — in the middle of an ongoing global silicon shortage, Apple has added yet another chip to devices for no purpose other than to prevent the same customers who pay a premium for its iPhones from servicing their phone themselves, or getting it serviced from any repair technician of their choosing.

Apple does not provide a way for Joe Repairman to bind a replacement screen to an iPhone. The only way to do that is for an Apple-certified repair technician with access to Apple Services Toolkit 2 to log the repair on Apple’s cloud servers, and the serial numbers of the iPhone and replacement screen will be synced once Apple reviews and approves the repair.

Repair experts have found a workaround — physically moving the soldered serialization chip from the original screen onto the replacement, but that’s expensive, takes a lot longer, and requires a microscope, microsoldering tools, and training.

It also lands outside the means of the tens of thousands of small repair shops across the globe that offer screen replacements to their communities at competitive prices

The situation “is likely the strongest case yet for right to repair laws,” says iFixit. Understandably, DIY tinkerers and repair specialists all over are in an uproar.

“This IC [chip] swap thing, it’s a disaster, and we definitely need to fight it, 100 percent,” says Justin Ashford, a popular YouTube repair instructor.

Read more about how the expensive workaround for screen replacement works and why both consumers and the repair industry need to push back against this change over at iFixit.