OEMs naturally want their products to be repaired only by them or at the very least authorized service centers. This could be for various reasons ranging from quality assurance to IP protection to additional revenue. However, consumers naturally gravitate towards cheaper, more convenient options, which sometimes means third-party services. Unsurprisingly, Apple, as before, seems to have found a way to discourage that practice by disabling touch functionality on iPhone 8 units running the latest iOS 11.3 whose screens have been repaired and replaced by unauthorized third-parties.
This actually isn’t new by now. The iPhone 7 was also met by such a fate. Last year, an iOS update disabled touch functionality on the 2016 phone if they have third-party replacement parts. Some repair shops have stopped accepting iPhone 7 repairs and were wary about the iPhone 8. This latest influx of reports confirms their fears.
Repair specialists explain that Apple uses a small chip to power the touch screen. Every time a screen is replaced, that chip has to be upgraded as well. If there’s a mismatch between the screen and that chip, the latest iOS will reject all touch input, basically turning the iPhone 8 into a useless but colorful flashlight.
Apple has employed a similar tactic with Touch ID and the iPhone X’s Face ID. Repairs done by third-parties effectively kills those features. In this case, it’s partly understandable. The features are intricately tied to security and do have to be tamper-proof, otherwise, they lose all trustworthiness. Touch screens, however, are a different story.
It’s unknown at this point if Apple will issue an update to fix the issue. Maybe as far as Apple is concerned, this is a feature, not a bug. It basically scares off consumers from seeking third-party repairs and discourages third-party shops from accepting them in the first place, which is, of course, what Apple wants to happen.