April 20, 2018
The Latest iOS Update Kills After-Market LCD Screens in Repaired Devices
If you've ever been busy with your phone in your hand and accidentally dropped it, you know that sinking feeling in your stomach when you hear your $900 device smack the concrete with a sickening thud. That feeling gets even worse when you turn the phone over, and you're greeted with a shattered screen.
If you didn't opt for that expensive $199 AppleCare coverage, you might be boned because the company is cracking down on third-party repairs through software updates.
The iOS 11.3 update was released at the end of March and soon after, people who had their iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus repaired at a screen-repair shop soon found that their phones no longer worked. It's wreaking havoc among repair shop owners, who are dealing with an influx of formerly repaired devices that now have to be serviced again.
Injured Gadgets CEO Aakshay Kripalani says he's seen over 2,000 reshipments in the days since the iOS 11.3 update hit. He says it seems as though Apple is explicitly issuing these updates to prevent people from exercising their right to repair and getting their device fixed at a third-party retailer.
So what happened in the software update to cause the loss of touch functionality for these devices? According to repair shops who specialize in screen replacement, there's a small microchip that powers every iPhone screen. Something in the update killed the touch functionality in that microchip, so every previously repaired phone now has to be opened up again and the chip needs to be upgraded.
Third-party repair shops have diagnosed the issue and can now work around it, but this raises questions about the viability of these repairs if Apple were to issue another update that will break the functionality again.
So why are technology companies doing this? It's part of their effort to discredit third-party repair services as unreliable so they can push their warranty service like AppleCare onto unsuspecting technology owners. By issuing a software update that causes third-party repaired devices to fail, even iPhone owners who are not affected hear the news and think twice about having their device repaired at any third-party repair place.
That's unfortunate because these devices work fine after repairs and before companies issue a firmware update that kills functionality. In fact, it seems increasingly hostile of technology companies in the fight against the consumer's right to repair their own devices. This argument has been heating up all across the United States, as more than 18 states now have right to repair bills introduced for legislation.
Right to Repair
A consumer's right to repair devices they've bought and own is a fundamental right that is being decided in the courts right now. One bill that was introduced in the New York legislature is the Fair Repair Act, which would require companies and electronics manufacturers to sell replacement parts and repair tools to the general public.
California is the most recent state to have a Right to Repair Act presented to its legislature, so it's a growing movement that seems to have the support from state legislatures and it could only be a matter of time before this is addressed at the federal level.
Tech giants are against the idea that fixing your own electronic devices should be a right and they've paid millions to lobbyists in state and federal government to prevent these Right to Repair acts from becoming laws. These tech giants argue that repairing your device is a security risk and third-party repairs are not reliable. However, that's a lot like a dealer slashing your new tires and telling you that third-party tires are unreliable and you should have bought tires from the dealership.
The New York bill was proposed and sat for months on the docket before support fizzled out, mainly thanks to lobbyists from Apple, Verizon, Toyota, and Lexmark. New York state's transparency laws allowed us to see the top lobbyists that opposed the Right to Repair Bill and it's no surprise that tech companies made the top of this list.
If Right to Repair laws were enacted and tech companies had to license repair parts to these third-party repair places, then situations like this would not happen. In fact, it's very anti-consumer choice to issue a software update that affects only those who have opted to have their device repaired outside of Apple's influence.
If you happen to have a third-party repaired iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus that has lost touch-screen functionality, you can sell it to Gadget Traders and get some of the money back for your device. All you need to do is state the condition of your device, send it to them in a pre-paid mailer they send you, and the money for your phone will hit your bank account in as little as three days.