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Third-party display repairs are breaking iPhones after iOS 11.3 update

Simon Hill / Digital Trends

Looking forward to the iOS 11.3 update on your iPhone? Well hold on there just a moment, because if you’ve had your iPhone display replaced by anyone other than Apple, you could be in for a world of bother once the update goes through.

According to various sources, users who have had their displays replaced by third parties are finding that their touchscreen functionality is no longer working after updating to iOS 11.3. Michael Oberdick, owner of an iPhone repair shop in Ohio, suspects a small microchip powering every iPhone’s display is the reason that the replacements are bricking the phone.

This issue got even thornier after it emerged that even Apple-branded replacement parts weren’t safe from iOS 11.3’s wrath, as users discovered their ambient light sensors would not detect light and change the display’s brightness automatically — even if the sensors hadn’t been touched at all. According to Engadget, the sensor is disabled as part of the OS boot process.

There’s some discussion about whether this is a bug or a security feature. An iOS 11 update from last year caused similar issues in the iPhone 7, and the infamous Error 53 from a few years ago was also linked to iPhones detecting that third-party repairs had taken place. While Apple clarified its position, stating that the issues were a security feature and intended to stop thieves from bypassing Touch ID, it still ruffled more than a few feathers, even after the issue was patched out.

The issue with iPhone repairs has apparently gotten so bad that many repair shops are refusing to touch the new iPhones at all, with the iPhone X being branded as being particularly difficult to repair.

It’s clear that Apple doesn’t approve of third-party repairs, and has been known to warn users against using such services. For context, the current cost of a display replacement from Apple ranges from $149 for an iPhone 8, all the way to $279 for the iPhone X.

User and third-party repairs are something of a hot topic at the moment. California is set to discuss a “right to repair” bill that would force manufacturers to share their replacement parts and procedures with repair shops, and the FTC recently reminded electronics manufacturers “warranty void if removed” stickers are illegal, and warned that there would be repercussions for those who did not stop issuing them with their products.

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