Apple Walks Back iPhone 13 Display Repair Restriction That Disabled Face ID
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 10:06 AM
Following the launch of the iPhone 13 models, iFixit and other independent repair outlets found that replacing the iPhone's display renders Face ID non-functional, limiting repairs to Apple itself, Apple Authorized Service Providers, and Apple-associated repair shops. The change made it much more difficult for smaller, independent repair shops to perform iPhone 13 display repairs on broken devices.
Image via iFixit
Given the blowback from repair providers unhappy with the restriction, Apple has decided to change its policy. Apple told The Verge that it plans to introduce a software update that will allow for standard display repairs that do not disable Face ID.
With the iPhone 13 models, Apple added a small microcontroller that pairs the iPhone 13 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's a finicky process that requires soldering and a microscope to perform.
The software update that Apple plans to implement 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.
There is no word yet on when Apple will add the software update to simplify iPhone display repairs for independent repair providers, but iOS 15.2 is in beta testing at the current time and the feature could be introduced in that update.