Apple has generously decided to back off of a surely coincidental screen repair trap that had bricked Face ID on the iPhone 13.
According to a new report from The Verge, Apple is planning to imminently release a software update that will eliminate the need for a tiny microcontroller chip to be transferred over from an iPhone 13’s original screen in order for a new one to be compatible with Face ID. That transfer process, according to the report, currently requires “…time, special equipment, and the ability to microsolder”—which is sort of like the spiritual opposite of what the screen repair process typically entails under normal circumstances.
For independent repair shops, the extra effort required to replace an iPhone 13 screen while still keeping Face ID functional had complicated one of the most common types of phone repairs, dealing a major blow to both consumers and the professional repair industry. Last week the consumer electronics and how-to website iFixit had reported extensively on the changes to the repair process, calling the shift “a dark day for fixers, both DIY and professional.”
Justin Drake Carroll, the CEO and founder of the Virginia-based repair chain Fruit Fixed, told iFixit that screen repairs accounted for about 35% of his revenue revenue.
“At one point it was 60%, a few years ago,” Carroll said. “We worked really hard to push that figure down, so that one revenue stream wasn’t such a huge part of what we do. Obviously, it’s still an incredibly important part of our business model.”
As iFixit points out, small repair shops looking to stave off financial disaster would likely have had to choose between two grim options: joining Apple’s Independent Repair Provider (IRP) program, or picking up a few quick microsoldering lessons and some welding gear. Thankfully, according to The Verge, Apple says that the anticipated software update will make it so that you’re not required “…to transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap.”
Although there’s currently no word on when exactly Apple’s software update is scheduled to roll out, independent repair shops and right-to-repair advocates are likely relieved.