Changing the screen of the iPhone 13 will no longer disable FaceID. Apple wants to let third-party repairs go?

This will destroy (destory) some local cell phone repair shops.

This is the emotion (or sigh) sent by iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens on Twitter after confirming that the iPhone 13 screen is "locked".

The "lock" on the iPhone 13 series screen is actually a small chip set on the screen cover, and the screen and FaceID module are paired through software.

▲ Picture from: Phone Repair Guru

If you go for unofficially authorized repairs, the FaceID function will be disabled after the screen is replaced. The iFixit repair team has verified the discovery of the initial YouTuber Phone Repair Guru with multiple iPhone 13 in the laboratory.

And after the iPhone 13 Pro dismantling report, I solemnly released videos and graphics to explain that small changes on the iPhone 13 will have a "huge" impact on small repair shops.

▲ FaceID is invalid after changing the screen. Picture from: iFixit

Just like this, Apple's change is like giving a fulcrum to easily "turn over" the small repair shop.

After locking, there are three ways to repair the iPhone 13 screen

Since the "loopholes" are closed, of course there are many ways.

One is to join Apple's IRP Program (Independent Repair Service Provider) and re-pair the serial number of the new screen with the chip using the official service kit to complete the repair.

The second is chip-level maintenance. "It is nothing more than re-soldering this small chip to the screen, but Huaqiangbei" said in a comment on macrumors, it seems that Huaqiangbei's craftsmanship is well-known.

The third is to give up the FaceID function and change it directly.

▲ The "small chip" that caused heated discussion. Picture from: iFixit

Regarding one, IRP has been online in the United States for more than a year, but the progress is not fast, or the effect is not significant enough. Although there is no franchise fee, it requires examinations and audits, and has a series of "strict" contracts and requirements.

The most important thing is that the parts need to be purchased from Apple. For small independent repair shop owners, it is a real loss of income.

▲Louis Rossmann. Picture from: YouTube

Regarding the second, independent repairer Louis Rossmann cited an example in its YouTube channel to prove the negative effects of Apple's move.

If the user's expected repair cost is US$80, according to the past, the cost of parts is US$40 and the labor cost is US$40. When chip-level maintenance is added, the maintenance time and manual skills will increase. It may cost 60 US dollars, and the overall cost is 100 US dollars, which is far beyond user expectations. The final result is the loss of customers.

There are two solutions to maintain the expected price of US$80. One is to abandon FaceID and follow the traditional method, which will eventually lose customers; the other is to reduce the cost of parts and use defective screens to complete chip-level repairs, and ultimately maintain the status quo, but This will lose the reputation of independent repairers and eventually lose customers.

According to Rossmann's point of view, there seems to be no good plan to maintain the status quo of independent repairers. The end result is to push customers to Apple's official repair or authorized repair.

Of course, he also made a little joke. Apple's approach is quite advanced (genius), but it is a pity that this change is destroying his career.

In fact, it is not just Rossmann, many independent repairers believe that Apple's move may change the pattern of the entire iPhone repair market.

Justin Drake Carroll, founder of the Fruit Fixed chain of repair shops in the United States, said that screen replacement accounted for about 35% of the total repair revenue, which was as high as 60% before. They have been lowering the proportion of revenue from screen repairs to allow the company to develop in a healthy way.

"In the future, the third-party repair screen may most need a microscope."

Compromise plan: give a software update, untie

The Apple iPhone 13 screen repair incident has caused a stir in the United States, and many people think that this move is a "competition" for repair rights. In July of this year, US President Biden instructed the FTC to draft a new specification for maintenance rights, "allowing ordinary people to make repairs on their own or in independent repair shops, instead of looking for the original factory." This is also a small progress made in the maintenance rights movement in recent years.

In the face of doubts, accusations or suggestions from many parties, Apple reported to The Verge on November 9th, "We will remove the binding status of the screen and FaceID in subsequent software updates to facilitate maintenance."

However, The Verge also pointed out that Apple did not specify when this software update will arrive.

In any case, this statement also indicates that Apple has made a compromise with independent repairers, and the "microscope" may no longer be necessary when repairing the screen in the future.

In China, the changes in the repair of the iPhone 13 screen have not caused much "splash", mainly because the iPhone 13 series has just been released and there has been no large-scale repair. And the other is the strategy of giving Apple Care+ with purchases this year, so many people have no worries about the future.

▲ MacBook Pro memory upgrade. Image from: YouTube

Including MacBook Pro, iPad Pro and other devices, Apple’s hardware devices are becoming more and more integrated. Almost all components are welded together. Chip-level repairs are no longer rare. There is also a similar replacement for iPhone on the market. MacBook Pro increased memory and other services, even with the iPhone 13 series screen, can still be absorbed by many domestic repairers.

On the contrary, for individuals, as long as Apple does not push the corresponding firmware upgrades for the iPhone 13 series, the days of buying components online and replacing and repairing them on their own are gone forever.

Fighting over and over is not profit, but information

Number the hardware, write it into the system, lock it, and restrict some third-party components. Apple has actually implemented it for many years, including TouchID, battery, screen, camera, etc. in the early years.

It’s just that there are mostly limited functions before, such as TouchID cannot work after replacement, pop-up prompts after battery replacement, non-original screens that do not support original color display, and camera functions are incomplete, and so on. This is the first time that the two are bound to restrict maintenance (or increase the difficulty of maintenance).

On the iPhone 13 series, the speakers are also transferred from the screen to the body. In addition, the screen integrates a touch layer and a display layer, thereby reducing the number of cables. In theory, the "integrated" changes have actually made the screen easier to repair.

▲The internal components of the iPhone 13 series FaceID are arranged more closely. Picture from: Microcomputer

However, due to the safety of equipment and the avoidance of the black production accessories industry chain, the "software lock" set in the system makes screen maintenance more difficult.

For the reason of safety, some independent repairers do not think it can stand up. After all, it takes an extra 15 minutes to transplant the original screen IC chip to other screens and enable FaceID at the same time. If it is really to avoid malicious cracking, or write the serial number of the accessory into the physical-level module of the A series chip.

Not only independent repairers in the United States, but some European counterparts are also competing for the so-called "maintenance rights" from technology companies with hardware businesses.

Similarly, not only Apple, but Microsoft, Amazon, and Google are also lobbying to prevent the "right to repair" bill from taking effect. In addition to equipment safety factors, companies also worry that non-professional consumers will be harmed during the repair process.

▲ European "maintenance rights" are actually for environmental protection. Picture from: ethicalconsumer

In fact, these technology giants are more worried about their own development. Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said that the "right to repair" legislation is a hazard to Microsoft's development.

The harm does not come from the existence of independent repairers that will "eat up" the after-sales profits of large companies. On the contrary, large companies have a considerable after-sales system. The procurement and storage of parts, the training of after-sales service personnel, the recovery and harmless treatment of damaged parts, etc. all make the after-sales operation cost quite high.

It also objectively led to the high official repair prices of large companies such as Apple and Microsoft. But the high maintenance costs have not been converted into profits. In response to an antitrust inquiry from a US congressman, Apple stated that "since 2009, the annual maintenance service costs have exceeded the revenue generated by the maintenance business", indicating that after-sales services are really not profitable.

Regardless of the United States or the European Union, once the Maintenance Rights Act is passed, in order to support ordinary consumers' self-maintenance, companies may be required to publish product circuits, operating principles, and hardware assembly drawings. For them, the leakage of this information is "Harm to the development" of the enterprise.

▲ The hacker organization REvil stole Apple's drawings and blackmailed Apple.

According to these schematic diagrams, the barriers to imitation and refurbishment will be lowered, and more "fake replacement" products will flood the market, which will undoubtedly be to control the market. The reason why Apple's IRP has strict control is also based on market stability considerations.

"If you have the ability, let's go to the official."

This is the choice of most people after encountering problems with iPhone and MacBook Pro. Indeed, official after-sales repairs rarely step on mines. But after the warranty time was exceeded, we were in a dilemma again. Either the official maintenance fee exceeded the value of the equipment, or we took the risk and chose the three parties.

Regardless of whether the "maintenance right" is passed or not, if they want to maintain a stable after-sales system, big technology companies should consider how to attract consumers to go through official channels, rather than bundling hardware and software together, thus throwing up a big problem.

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