Confirmed: iPhone 13 Third-Party Screen Repair Kills Face ID

If you break the screen on your iPhone 13 and don’t get it repaired by Apple, you might find that things don’t work as well as you’d hoped.

We’d already heard murmurings that replacing an iPhone 13 display with a third-party one could break Face ID, and now repair experts iFixit have confirmed as much.

Writing in a new blog post earlier today, iFixit says that replacing the display of an iPhone 13 will prevent Face ID from working thanks to the use of an authentication chip that’s soldered to the display itself. Apple and authorized repair outfits have the means to make all of that work, but you and your local repair outfit probably don’t. And that’s where things go awry.

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.

Third-party repair firms have two options — either pay to get hold of the software and parts needed and become part of Apple’s repair program, or remove the chip from the old display and attach it to the new one. That’s no mean feat and will require specialist equipment as well.

It still isn’t 100% clear why Apple has gone this route, but it’s one that makes the iPhone 13 lineup even more difficult to replace displays on thank previous models — unless you’re Apple or part of its repair scheme, that is.

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