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Recent iOS Update Kills Functionality On iPhone 8s Repaired With Aftermarket Screens (vice.com) 229

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple released iOS 11.3 at the end of March, and the update is killing touch functionality in iPhone 8s repaired with some aftermarket screens that worked prior to the update. That means people who broke their phone and had the audacity to get it repaired by anyone other than Apple is having a hard time using their phone. "This has caused my company over 2,000 reshipments," Aakshay Kripalani, CEO of Injured Gadgets, a Georgia-based retailer and repair shop, told me in a Facebook message. "Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair." According to Michael Oberdick -- owner and operator of iOutlet, an Ohio-based pre-owned iPhone store and repair shop, every iPhone screen is powered by a small microchip, and that chip is what the repair community believes to be causing the issue. For the past six months, shops have been able to replace busted iPhone 8 screens with no problem, but something in the update killed touch functionality. According to several people I spoke to, third-party screen suppliers have already worked out the issue, but fixing the busted phones means re-opening up the phone and upgrading the chip. It remains to be seen whether Apple will issue a new software update that will suddenly fix these screens, but that is part of the problem: Many phones repaired by third parties are ticking timebombs; it's impossible for anyone to know if or when Apple will do something that breaks devices fixed with aftermarket parts. And every time a software update breaks repaired phones, Apple can say that third-party repair isn't safe, and the third-party repair world has to scramble for workarounds and fixes.

Recent iOS Update Kills Functionality On iPhone 8s Repaired With Aftermarket Screens

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, who cares about this, or anything else Apple does that's shady? They're not harvesting or selling our data, at least. Surely that's well worth all the premiums and walled gardens.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zalbik ( 308903 )

      They're not harvesting or selling our data, at least

      They haven't been caught harvesting or selling our data, at least.

      Fixed that for you.

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @02:49AM (#56410625)

      Seriously, who cares about this, or anything else Apple does that's shady? They're not harvesting or selling our data, at least.

      I've heard of reality distortion but this is some next level shit right there. I'd much sooner have Samsung sell some data on me to advertisers than push out an update that bricked my phone.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Privacy for the rich isn't much of an achievement. It should be universal, not just for those who can afford to own and maintain an iPhone.

    • Seriously, who cares about this, or anything else Apple does that's shady? They're not harvesting or selling our data, at least. Surely that's well worth all the premiums and walled gardens.

      Dude! That's like excusing the actions of an extortionist because he was so kind as to not tell the whole neighbourhood about your porn stash. Nice troll though...

  • Aftermarket? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 09, 2018 @09:30PM (#56409641)

    Why would anyone go for aftermarket repairs when the device is still under warranty? They arent even a year old!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eagle42 ( 58594 )

      Why would anyone go for aftermarket repairs when the device is still under warranty? They arent even a year old!

      How much does warranty help if you break the screen yourself? Of course it would void the warranty, but I can imagine people would take that risk to save some money...

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )

        No it does not void the warranty, most jurisdictions have laws that make voiding the warranty if the product is repaired illegal.

        Here is a link for the USA - https://motherboard.vice.com/e... [vice.com]

    • since when was dropping your phone and breaking the screen covered under warranty?
      • since when was dropping your phone and breaking the screen covered under warranty?

        Since you have AppleCare+

        Cracked screens are replaced for $29. Twice.

        For 2 years (or 3. can't remember offhand).

        • Re:Aftermarket? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @10:36PM (#56409893) Homepage

          The same AppleCare+ that costs $149 per iPhone 8 (or $199 for the iPhone X) at the point of sale?

          Is that the AppleCare+ you're talking about?

          • The same AppleCare+ that costs $149 per iPhone 8 (or $199 for the iPhone X) at the point of sale?

            Is that the AppleCare+ you're talking about?

            Yes.

            And since a rather significant percentage of smartphone screens get cracked at least once in their lifetimes, it's an insurance policy you are pretty likely to need to use at one point or another.

            Perhaps Apple should structure AppleCare like Samsung does their similar policy: Instead of a lump sum up front, they charge something like 11 Dollars per month for their insurance. If you keep your phone for two years like a lot of people, that ends up being $269, SIGNIFICANTLY MORE money than even the iPhone

        • That plus the insurance premiums likely come close to the cost of the repair or exceed it on average. And if a phone is more than a few years old, Apple will call it obsolete and won't repair it even at full price.

          • That plus the insurance premiums likely come close to the cost of the repair or exceed it on average. And if a phone is more than a few years old, Apple will call it obsolete and won't repair it even at full price.

            So, take that money and stick it a desk drawer in an envelope labeled "Screen repair". Then pray nothing more than a cracked screen happens to your smartphone. But, if you are one of the statistically-unlikely few to never even crack your phone's screen, you beat The Man.

            But if not...

            • Insurance is based on statistics. You're statistically likely to save money or the insurance would not be offered or profitable.

              • Yes. But the statistics only work in the company's favor. For the consumer, it's an all-or-nothing gamble.

                For some people, it's an OK gamble. But a lot of people don't have the reserves to shell out hundreds of dollars on emergency repairs to a luxury item. (Leaving aside the argument about whether or not they should have purchased it in the first place.) For them, the insurance may well make sense. Their cash-flow may be such that an extra $10/month or a planned extra $140 at the time of purchase is doable

          • And if a phone is more than a few years old, Apple will call it obsolete and won't repair it even at full price.

            Is there any manufacturer that won't call a "more than a few years old" phone obsolete?

        • That is insurance not warranty.
        • Not counting the $150 you've already paid. So really you get a max of 2 screens for $200 3/4 of which you're required to pay even if you never break a thing? Fucking bargain!
    • Why would anyone go for aftermarket repairs when the device is still under warranty?

      You do know repairs and warranty repairs are two different things right?

  • Obligatory (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You're repairing it wrong.

  • These things have broken before, and apple fixes them (error 53). Unless you have a contract with Apple, why do you think they'd spend time doing the QA on your shady 3rd party screens?

    Your customers want a lower price bracket, they get a lower support bracket. Wake me when Apple refuses to fix it.

  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @09:34PM (#56409667)

    Well, now we know that the touch chip is a vector for unauthorized access.

    When you reverse engineer stuff you pay the price when things change. If it's only one vendor having the problem then you bought your stuff from the wrong vendor.

  • I could understand the story from last year (or whenever it was) about Apple updating their devices to reject third party repairs to the home button / finger scanner as that could have presented some obvious security risk. However, I'm having a hard time seeing the same here. I suppose one could make a case for this third party chip being able to scrape the screen in some nefarious manner, but that just seems a bit tinfoil hat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Zaelath ( 2588189 )

      I really doubt this is even intentional on Apple's behalf, and I have never owned or wanted an iPhone...

      The strength of their brand has always been reliability based on them making BOTH the software and the hardware which means their regression testing is infinitesimal compared to Microsoft or Google.

      It also meant they could double down on aesthetics without too much concern about what the device might be required to run later, since they control all of that as well.

      Take all that and replace a significant p

  • by Wrath0fb0b ( 302444 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @09:50PM (#56409733)

    Possible explanation #1: they intentionally killed the functionality of third party chips.

    Possible explanation #2: some third party chips were not actually up to spec in some subtle way, which wasn't an issue before.

    Both seem fairly plausible. I didn't see anything in TFA that gave a solid reason to believe one or other.

    • Option 3:
      The update tried to reprogram the chip, and it didn't update properly.

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @11:02PM (#56410007) Homepage

      Spec? What spec? Apple does not release specs. They will release OEM parts if you pay huge money to be an authorized repair center. That's it.

      • I'm going to assume you're a smart dude, so I think it's fairly clear that you know that just because the spec is not released publicly does not mean that it does not exist.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by houghi ( 78078 )

      Looking at the history of Apple and the fact they want to have it all in their own garden, I am going for option one, until they can prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that it was option 2. At that moment I will still go for option two as the correlation and still believe it is option one.

      Remember: these are the guys blaming their customers that they where holding their phone wrong.

      The thing is that they will get away with it. In three weeks they will state that they reversed it. The bad thing will already

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        A captive repair model is a moral hazard and always has been. The king is dead. Welcome to your new Detroit.

        The Surprising Source Of Car Dealers' Profits [businessinsider.com]

        If you've ever had to take your car into the dealer for a new gear box, you're unlikely to be surprised by this: Using data from the publicly traded dealership groups, Forbes' Jim Henry has discovered that the most profitable part of a dealer's business is its service and parts department.

        For the Penske Automotive Group ... the gross margin for service an

  • So... there are two scenarios :
    1) Apple has crafted an update to specifically disable some 3rd party components
    2) The third party component designer has failed to make a properly compatible part.

    Despite the story sounding like theyâ(TM)re spinning it as (1) Iâ(TM)d be very surprised if it wasnâ(TM)t (2) as thatâ(TM)s the most likely if they can fix it with an update as reported. Whatâ(TM)s the news? Why should a manufacturer go to the effort of testing badly made replacement parts t

  • Since the 8s hasn't even been released yet.

  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @10:10PM (#56409797) Homepage

    Something I learned working in technology, "Do not confuse incompetence with malice."

    Just because something breaks doesn't mean it is malicious move. It could be a lack of testing or just plain incompetence not realizing there existed thousands of 3rd party iPhone 8 screen repairs done. I don't think Apple intentionally wants to upset this many premium customers.

    • I don't think Apple intentionally wants to upset this many premium customers.

      There's a solution to that. They could actually offer legitimate parts for sale to repairers.

      Personally given the cost of a screen replacement from Apple vs one from a repair shop, I actually think even if Apple unintentionally upset this many premium customers, they are probably still happy about it.

    • "Do not confuse incompetence with malice."

      That implies that you should investigate first before reaching a conclusion. Always assuming incompetence is just as bad as always assuming malice.

      I don't think Apple intentionally wants to upset this many premium customers.

      Apple has been this way since the company was founded decades ago. They very much understand their customers and how much they will tolerate.

  • A long tradition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by willoughby ( 1367773 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @10:22PM (#56409841)

    Back when Apple introduced the first iMac they also introduced the "G3 Blue & White Tower". Some months later, when everyone knew a new machine from Apple with a G4 processor was planned, some aftermarket outfits began selling a G4 upgrade kit. You could buy & install the upgrade kit and have a G4 Mac without the wait and without having to buy a new machine from Apple.

    Apple released a firmware update (remember the "programmer's button"?) disguised as something I can't remember. That update broke all of these G4 upgrade kits.

    This is simply the way Apple does business.

  • by sharkbiter ( 266775 ) on Monday April 09, 2018 @11:19PM (#56410071)

    If you buy an iPhone then Apple is going to do everything in its power to ensure that all repairs (that are under warranty) will be done by authorized Apple repair shops. Why are people surprised when they push an update that invalidates third party repair? You're buying a product that bases its profit on the fact that it'll break just after warranty (or several months, whichever comes first) and you'll have to shell out for a new one. Apple doesn't give a shit whether or not they piss off a few people, they know that what the consumer is buying is their image. The only way they'll release a patch to allow third party screens is if they piss off enough people to affect their bottom line. Same thing happened with the fingerprint sensor.

    Of course, Apple will say that they're protecting their "customers" by preventing those inferior third party parts from making their "product" unstable as a coverup, but that's just business right?

    tl;dr: If you shell out the cash for the image product, why cheap out on repairs? Go whole hog with your bucks for the full user experience and feel the burn.

    • If you buy an iPhone then Apple is going to do everything in its power to ensure that all repairs (that are under warranty) will be done by authorized Apple repair shops. Why are people surprised when they push an update that invalidates third party repair?

      Um... because it's immoral and potentially illegal?

    • Apple doesn't care, and that's why this update broke some phones. They don't have time to track down every 2-bit repair part and shop and devise some sort of code patch that'll break it. They just make updates and if it breaks your 3rd party shit, they don't care. They won't do anything to help you, and you're on your own.

      Seriously, people have a really elevated sense of self importance here. Apple isn't out to get you: Apple couldn't care less who you are or what you've done.

      • They care enough that when it became apparent that updates were "bricking" phones which had the touch ID/home button sensor replaced with an incompatible part, they released another update which fixed those phones. There's a decent chance Apple will release another update that will fix these phone with incompatible aftermarket displays, assuming that it's possible. If the issue is that Apple's updater tried to update the firmware on the display controller chip and the chip freaked out, then I wouldn't be su
  • by rally2xs ( 1093023 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @12:00AM (#56410177)

    Its just one thing after another with these guys. You'd think that a company would do everything that they could to make sure everything worked for the customer. That would include publishing specs so aftermarket manufacturers could provide alternative screens and then ensuring the software works with that spec. But when they don't, customers expectations are not met, and you get people like me, that long ago stopped doing anything "i".

    • The Apple-ecosystem definition of "make sure everything works for the customer" is providing a fast, streamlined experience for having your display replaced at a bright, shiny Apple Store. Publishing specs so third parties can make kinda-sorta-compatible replacement parts in a razor-thin margin industry is not to result in a better user experience. I remember back in the iPhone 3G/3GS days when Apple was using phone displays closer to commodity parts in other smartphones, having you screen fixed at your loc
  • No. Apple IS doing it because they're trying to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair.

  • by Camembert ( 2891457 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @01:44AM (#56410461)
    I don't think that Apple should be testing compatibility of IOS updates (or any other tech vendor or producer of for example cars) on permutations of 3rd party hardware. It is the job of the part producer to check that their replacement part is indeed 100% compatible.
    This being said, was the compatibility breakage done on purpose? I don't think they'd do that effort, since it can only piss off recurring customers, but even so it might be possible..
    In any case this is a good example of the value of AppleCare+ for a mobile device. We used it to get my wife's Apple Watch screen replaced after our toddler threw it on the floor.
  • Back when he battery slowdown fiasco was coming to a head, I elected to take my out-of-warranty iPhone 6+ and swap the battery (iFixit brand) myself.

    This went well and good until Apple decided to announce their own program 2 weeks later.

    iOS 11.3 with the new battery diagnostics is a new problem. While the phone is perfectly able to report the charge amount of the battery, and it dutifully reports low battery notifications, it does not apparently work the same when the battery is near exhaustion. Now when

    • Speaking as a developer of iOS device diagnostic and quality assurance tools, 3rd party batteries in iPhones and iPads don't always report correct/sane capacity and consumption statistics. All Apple batteries have a hardware component called the GasGauge which is a chip that gets paired with a battery and monitors its charging and discharging to accurately report not only charge percentage but also how much energy the battery can store, the current it can sustain and how many charge cycles it's been through
  • What ain't safe is iOS updates. They keep breaking functionality on phones that worked prior to the update.

  • Stop buying Apple crap!
  • If you don't purchase an overpriced repair part for your overpriced phone, we will figure out a way to make your phone not work. But...don't forget, we are Apple...you can trust us.
  • Consumers: All IPhones should be completely repairable with third party solutions!
    Also Consumers: All IPhones should be completely unhackable even by the goverment!

    My gut feeling is some of these updates by Apple are the result of closing security holes.

  • > That means people who broke their phone and had the audacity to get it repaired by anyone other than Apple

    Repair shops have access to Apple OEM screens. Even the one run out of a basement a couple of streets away from me has OEM.

    The 3rd party screens are CRAP - I know because I got the "best one" and it was dead in 2 weeks.

    So if your repair shop is using a 3rd party screen, that's the problem right there. I'm *sure* they didn't tell the customer they were being fleeced.

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