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  • Matthew Spencer - Tech Journalist

Apple's policy change with display repair and Face ID issue

Apple's security is on par on all its lineup, but the repairability feature takes a hit when display change hampers its Face ID feature. Specific chips are paired with display, making it impossible for Face ID to work after display change. Of course, displays have come a long way for smartphones, but glass is glass, and we know what can happen to glass.

iPhone 13 is making headlines as part of Apple's whole series of the new generation product lineup. iPhone 13 is now rocking an A15 chip that's pretty powerful as far as smartphone goes. Also, a bigger battery, better camera sensor, high refresh display made the phone a great upgrade option for users. But the repairability still becomes a heavy burden as if it is changed; Face ID will no longer work. The chips need to "match" in "pairs" with the original device to function properly.

Apple said it would require a software update to fix the issue as they received heat from customers and repair advocates. A widely criticised right-to-repair movement is taking place from the Apple fan base. Apples plan to remove the right to repair their new generation phones, which makes them vulnerable to damages and could cost a hefty sum as the device itself is not cheap. The microcontroller handles the pairing process of display and chip, and it is tasked to match those component pairs so that it may hamper the process of theft or stolen goods. But in the process, it removed the flexibility of fixing the device itself. Repair techs call it 'serialisation' as Apple didn't provide owners with the opportunity to pair it with a new screen.

Apple's Service Toolkit 2 is the company's newest addition of technical probability, where the binding process is handled via Apple's authorised repair points. Apple's cloud server syncs and matches the components to work in sync, or it was the point Apple tried to make. But it certainly received tons of hatred and controversy as customers have the right to fix the phone with the money they spent, and it narrows customisability.

After the iPhone 13 series launch, users found that if they need to change the device screen from an individual repair shop, they will need to change the chip attached to the screen. If they don't do that, then Face ID will not work. The process of replacing chip to second display can get quite complicated as it's very delicate for indie repair shops. On the other hand, Apple authorised shops to have the capability to server sync the display to pair easily. And they can get quite costly.

Moreover, there is not enough repair shop under an authorised partnership. Not only that, it reflects how apple is trying to control the ecosystem around the repairability of their new devices. After controversies, they finally released new devices adequate for today's time and can give competitors a tough fight. But they said software update would roll out eventually so that swapping the microchip will no longer be required to keep Face ID working as before with screen swap.

The current process can take a lot of effort and challenging procedure, special equipment and more time than usual for a simple fix. As technology advanced, we have been comfortable holding the same device for multiple years. If the repairability is out of the roof, then the process will be daunted. Being a role model in the industry where other companies follow their innovation, Apple will gradually start hurting mainstream markets where most lineup included budget devices.

Fruit Fixed CEO and Founder Justin Drake Carroll, who owns a repair chain in Virginia, talked about replacement revenue which was 35 per cent before, but it became 60 per cent. Because they managed to lower the cost, the revenue stream was handled friendly with customers. But the chip "swap thing, it's a disaster, and we need to fight it, 100 per cent."


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