Apple Bows to Pressure and Makes the iPhone 13 Easier to Repair

After backlash around the iPhone 13's repairability earlier this month, Apple has changed its policy and made its latest smartphone easier to repair.

iphone 13 face id display repairsImage via iFixit

Following the launch of the ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup earlier this year, iFixit and other independent repair outlets discovered that replacing the iPhone's display renders Face ID non-functional. This limited basic screen repairs to being provided only by Apple itself, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and Apple-associated repair shops, making it much more difficult for smaller, independent repair shops to provide the same service.

The issue arose because Apple added a small microcontroller to the ‌iPhone 13‌ that pairs the device to its display. When performing a display repair, this microcontroller must be paired to the new display using Apple's tools, which independent repair shops do not have access to. Without this pairing process, swapping an ‌iPhone 13‌ display with a new display results in an error message that says "Unable to activate ‌Face ID‌ on this ‌iPhone‌."

Repair shops without access to Apple's pairing tools could take the microcontroller from the original display and add it to a new display, but it is a time-consuming and challenging process that requires complex soldering and use of a microscope.

Given the negative reaction from users and repair providers who were unhappy with the seemingly arbitrary restriction, Apple has now decided to change its policy. Apple told The Verge that it plans to release a software update that will allow standard display repairs to not disable ‌Face ID‌.

The software update that Apple plans to release will remove the restriction that requires the microcontroller to be transferred to a new display when a repair is made, so independent shops will once again be able to repair screens without impacting the functionality of ‌Face ID‌.

It is not yet known when Apple will add the software update to simplify ‌iPhone‌ display repairs for independent repair providers, but iOS 15.2 is currently in beta testing and the feature could be introduced in that update.

It recently emerged that Apple has made it easier to replace the MacBook Pro's battery, since it is no longer glued in place and trapped under the logic board, in an improvement that may make the new machines more long-lasting and is a step in the right direction for Right to Repair advocates.

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