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Third-party screen repairs kill Face ID on iPhone 13, but iOS 15 could fix it

Published Sep 27th, 2021 4:08PM EDT
iPhone 13 screen
Image: Apple inc.

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Apple launched the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro last Friday to rave reviews. Although the new models look similar to their predecessors, the improved battery life and the smooth 120Hz display make a real difference. Unfortunately, while Apple brought many upgrades to the latest iPhone, it also introduced a significant downgrade for third-party repairs. As one YouTuber recently discovered, if a third-party repair store attempts to replace the screen on an iPhone 13, Face ID will stop working. The good news is that it’s entirely possible for this issue to be fixed by iOS 15. The bad news is there’s no indication that Apple will actually make the changes necessary to fix it.

Back in 2019, Apple added a warning on the iPhone 11 to alert users when a provider installs a non-genuine display. If Apple is unable to verify whether or not your iPhone has a genuine display, you’ll see an “Important Display Message” when you head over to Settings > General > About. According to Apple’s support page, the notifications don’t affect your ability to use your iPhone. On iPhone 13 models, that no longer appears to be true.

Apple kills iPhone 13 third-party screen repairs

As you will see in the video below, Apple has dealt a huge blow to third-party repair shops. YouTuber Phone Repair Guru goes through the process of swapping out the displays on two iPhone 13 models in the following video. They are both real iPhone 13 models with their original displays. Nonetheless, when he turns the phones back on, neither will let him login with Face ID:

Unlike on previous iPhone models, the iPhone 13 screen does not feature any components required for Face ID to work. There is no reason why installing a genuine display on an iPhone 13 should cause any problems. And yet, if a third-party provider correctly replaces your iPhone 13 screen with another real screen, Face ID dies. It’s hard to see this as anything other than Apple punishing third-party providers that aren’t licensed through Apple’s Independent Repair Provider program.

There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that Apple continues to make it needlessly difficult to have its products repaired. Apple wants to control every step of the repair process, and it’s completely unnecessary. The good news is that this specific issue can probably be fixed with a software update. It’s clear that there are no hardware malfunctions causing the warning message to appear. Apple could likely roll out a new version of iOS 15 to fix this within days. The question now is whether or not Apple really wants to hit third-party shops where it hurts. We’ll be keeping an eye out for updates.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.