Customers are once again experiencing problems with third-party screen repairs and iOS updates on Apple’s latest iPhone models, Motherboard reports. From information gleaned from repair shops, Apple’s iOS 11.3 update has been “killing touch functionality” in iPhone 8 models that have been repaired using aftermarket screens — iPhones that worked perfectly fine with the repaired screens prior to the update. According to Michael Oberdick of Ohio-based iPhone repair shop iOutlet, the repair community believes the problem is being caused by a small microchip that powers iPhone screens, and that some unknown component in the iOS 11.3 update kills touch functionality with that chip. Third-party screen suppliers have apparently solved the problem, but it requires the chip to be physically replaced in each affected iPhone.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple has been quiet on the issue, so it’s unclear whether a new software update will address the issue, however the company has warned users about “non-genuine replacement displays” failing to work properly, and emphasizing that “Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts.” As the Motherboard report notes, however, shops that perform repairs are usually required to agree to certain restrictions in order to get access to officially authorized parts, leaving many to rely on grey market versions that are supposedly “often just as good as the original” and sometimes even made in the same factories.
The problem with third-party repairs causing problems for users in iOS updates actually goes back as far as two years ago, when users updating Touch ID capable phones to iOS 9 actually began encountering fully “bricked” devices that showed only a cryptic “Error 53” message, although that problem was more specifically tied to the security used to pair the Touch ID fingerprint sensor with the Secure Enclave — an issue that was known as far back as when the first Touch ID capable iPhone 5s was released in 2013, although prior to iOS 9, unauthorized repairs simply disabled the Touch ID sensor, rather than bricking the device entirely. Sadly, the current issue with iOS 11.3 is another example of how future software updates can impact iPhones long after repairs have occurred, resulting in uncertainty for many users who may rely more heavily on independent repair shops due to cost or proximity to an Apple Store.