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Face ID broken after replacing the display: Apple reverses system nailing

Apple has responded to criticism from repair experts that the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max and iPhone 13 mini are much more difficult to repair because the company has equipped two hardware functions with a kind of copy protection against third-party spare parts.

As iFixIt discovered, replacing the screen on Apple’s current smartphones ensures that Face ID is deactivated – only a special tool and software from Apple could “marry” the display and face recognition. For independent workshops that do not have access to original Apple spare parts including the necessary hardware, this would have meant the end of this fundamental repair.

Now Apple is rowing back and told a US IT blog that the extremely controversial “feature” of Face ID deactivation will be reversed with a future software update. It’s not the first time that Apple has nailed its devices accordingly – in the past there have even been legal disputes over this with fines worth millions. The repair of the home button by external parties was not possible without the Touch ID fingerprint sensor being retained. At the time, the company emphasized that it was about the safety of users.

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Opposite to The Verge a spokesman said that standard screen repairs will be allowed again in the future without Face ID being deactivated. The company had installed a new, very compact microcontroller in the iPhone 13 devices, which couples face recognition to the respective display. It was not even possible to use the original screen of another iPhone 13 without deactivating the face recognition, the repair service provider iFixIt had demonstrated. Even then, the message appears that the activation of Face ID failed.

The only solution so far for independent workshops was to transfer the microcontroller by means of soldering, what takes a long time and requires appropriate skills and technology. In addition, the microcontroller must be appropriately described. According to Apple, there will be a software update for iOS “soon” that will remove the verification of the coupling. The usual “simple” screen swap is then sufficient again. When exactly the update will appear, Apple did not say. Display repairs are probably the most common task of many iPhone workshops. (bsc)

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