Third-party iPhone 13 screen repairs won’t break Face ID after upcoming software update

Iphone 13 Review HeroSource: Joseph Keller / iMore

The news that third-party repair shops would break Face ID when replacing iPhone 13 displays was disheartening, but there might be light at the end of the tunnel. According to a new report, Apple has a software update on the way that will get things back up and running.

The issue stems from a new chip that’s attached to the iPhone 13 display. Unless that chip is also swapped, or some software reprogramming is completed, Face ID will refuse to work. That leaves third-party repair shops out of luck, at least for now.

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This unprecedented lockdown is unique to Apple and totally new in the iPhone 13. It is likely the strongest case yet for right to repair laws. And it’s all because of a chip about the size of a Tic-Tac, tucked into the bottom of a screen.


The iPhone 13 is paired to its screen using this small microcontroller, in a condition repair techs often call “serialization.” Apple has not provided a way for owners or independent shops to pair a new screen. Authorized technicians with access to proprietary software, Apple Services Toolkit 2, can make new screens work by logging the repair to Apple’s cloud servers and syncing the serial numbers of the phone and screen. This gives Apple the ability to approve or deny each individual repair.

But things are looking up. According to a report by The Verge, Apple has a software update coming that will remove the need for the new chip to be swapped over entirely.

Soon after the iPhone 13 launched, repair experts found that swapping out iPhone 13 screens would break Face ID unless you also moved over a tiny control chip from the original screen. It’s a complex process that makes one of the most common types of repairs prohibitively difficult for independent repair shops. (Apple-authorized repair shops, on the other hand, have access to a software tool that can make a phone accept a new screen.) For indie repair shops, things may get easier soon, however, as Apple tells The Verge it will release a software update that doesn’t require you to transfer the microcontroller to keep Face ID working after a screen swap.

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