Apple’s limited repair commitments are frustrating independent repairers

Apple earned plaudits for making the iPhone 14 more repairable compared to its predecessors, but the question of who can make those repairs remains. It appears the company has added an additional, seemingly-unnecessary layer of friction to the process of replacing a broken display. Much like in 2019, even genuine Apple screens are causing repaired iPhones to malfunction. Sources within the third-party repair community, who have asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, say that while tearing an iPhone 14 may be easier, getting it to work properly after is considerably harder.

Our sources say the new issue centers on the iPhone 14’s Always-On Display (AOD), which uses the phone’s two Ambient Light Sensors (ALS) to calibrate display brightness. In order to conserve battery life, when at night or when the phone is in your pocket, the display will shut down, leveraging the automatic brightness. If your display breaks, and you don’t use an Apple-authorized service center to replace it, however, the ALS shuts down, leaving the screen permanently black unless you can remember the position of the slider, and then you’ll be stuck manually adjusting your brightness.

(The Ambient Light Sensor has been an issue with previous iPhone releases, down to where its controller was sited. On the iPhone 12, for instance, it was mounted on a sensor flex itself that leant itself to mechanical failure. On the 13, it was moved to a new component cluster, reducing the risk of it breaking unexpectedly. Our source says that the iPhone 14’s sensor is in a similar place, and so any failure must be a software-related issue.)

YouTuber Hugh Jefferys posted a video about the problem, swapping the logic board between two brand new iPhones (both for the 14 and 14 Pro). Despite the fact that every component is new and Apple-made, the phones erupted into a chorus of error messages and broken features. FaceID, Battery Health, True Tone and Auto Brightness, as well as the forward-facing cameras are all disabled. When Jeffreys swapped them back, the problems persisted, and the phones were only “fixed” after he had downgraded to iOS 16.0.

The cause of this failure is Apple’s policy of…