For all its effort to paint itself as a champion of consumers, especially when it comes to privacy, Apple has always been one of the biggest enemies of the “Right to Repair” movement. It has put several obstacles designed to deter unauthorized repairs of its products, from MacBooks to iPhones. That hasn’t completely thwarted third-party repairs, though, and Apple has been stepping up its efforts, but its latest change might strike a fatal blow to attempts at repairing one of the most commonly broken parts of any smartphone; its screen.
In addition to making it physically harder to open up an iPhone to remove and replace components, Apple has resorted to a strategy that iFixit calls “security through serialization” to trip up third-party repairs. In a nutshell, it means that certain parts or the entire iPhone itself might stop working if an unauthorized third-party component is used. Since only authorized service centers can get access to parts and tools to verify those components, it effectively discourages owners from risking third-party repairs to save money.
The iPhone 13 seems to have taken one step forward and one step backward in that regard. iFixit notes that it is now easier to replace the iPhone 13 Pro’s battery because it only gives off a warning rather than block the complete use of the phone. Unfortunately, replacing the screen is a completely different and opposite story.
According to YouTube channel Phone Repair Guru, replacing the iPhone 13’s display completely breaks Face ID functionality. This is the case even if the replacement screen is a genuine Apple screen that was taken from another iPhone 13. As long as the screen doesn’t match what the iPhone came with, it will trigger the error.
This almost sounds like the case with replacing Touch ID, but it’s a significantly different situation. The Touch ID component holds security-related components related to the functionality, so it’s understandable that it would be presumed to have been compromised if repaired by a third party. A screen, on the other hand, doesn’t have any direct connection to Face ID functionality, making it a puzzling and almost superficial association simply designed to discourage third-party repairs.