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7 comments

iOS 11.3.1 Fixes Bug on iPhone 8 Units Repaired with Third-Party Displays

Apple has released iOS 11.3.1 to address problems with touch input caused by third-party screen repairs. You can install the update (49.5 MB on the iPhone X) from Settings > General > Software Update or via iTunes.

iOS 11.3.1 improves the security of your iPhone or iPad and addresses an issue where touch input was unresponsive on some iPhone 8 devices because they were serviced with non-genuine replacement displays.

It turns out that the iOS 11.3 update caused problems for iPhone 8 units that had received third-party screen repairs (see “iOS 11.3 Adds Battery Health Screen and Much More,” 29 March 2018). Some people assumed that Apple had purposely rendered such iPhones unresponsive, but iFixit dismissed that conspiracy theory, comparing it to Error 53 from a couple of years ago, which also caused problems for iPhones with third-party screen repairs (see “What “Error 53” Means for the Future of Apple Repairs,” 15 February 2016).

In iOS 11.3.1’s release notes, Apple says:

Non-genuine replacement displays may have compromised visual quality and may fail to work correctly. Apple-certified screen repairs are performed by trusted experts who use genuine Apple parts.

As much as we approve of iFixIt’s Right to Repair stance and a competitive market for repair services, we recommend letting Apple-authorized professionals handle iPhone screen repairs when feasible. Third-party displays may not match up to Apple’s quality standards, but more to the point, Apple has made it significantly more difficult to repair screens over the years. While third-party services can be tempting due to lower costs and at-home service (which Apple doesn’t offer, see “Verizon Offering Same-Day Screen Repair in Some Cities,” 10 February 2017), they may not be worth the trouble in the long run.

As commenters have pointed out, however, Apple lacks sufficient infrastructure to repair iPhones as quickly as users need at times, causing people to look elsewhere for help. We’d like to see Apple work harder to authorize and incentivize independent service providers.

Those without an iPhone 8 should still install iOS 11.3.1 because it also includes four security fixes to protect against a vulnerability in the crash reporter, malicious text messages, and maliciously crafted Web content.

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Comments About iOS 11.3.1 Fixes Bug on iPhone 8 Units Repaired with Third-Party Displays

Notable Replies

  1. The local Apple store offers limited opening hours, long lines, and the first possible date to get your screen replaced on Tue, about three weeks from today, around 10:30am. Great, except for those amongst us who actually have to go to work.

    I’m not at all surprised a lot of people chose to have their shattered screens fixed elsewhere. If Apple really wants to make sure people have that work done by qualified techs using genuine parts, I suggest they start worrying about availability of those services.

  2. While I understand the reasons for recommending official Apple screen replacements, I’m not sure it’s practical advice for non-bleeding-edge iPhones. I bought a refurbished iPhone 6s Plus last September for $340. It’s been great. Last week, I dropped it and cracked the screen. It’s still 100% functional (and only slightly aesthetically blemished) but I figure that the handwriting is on the wall. Josh’s article prompted me to try to schedule a repair.

    I live in a mid-sized metro area in California. The only appointment time that they offered that was in any way convenient was at a nearby Best Buy store, but I discovered (only after I’d scheduled the appointment) that it would take 5-7 business days and they wouldn’t give me a price in advance.

    I decided to elect to send it to Apple, where it would take “5 business days” for the repair. But when I actually selected that option, I was back to “5 to 7 business days” and a price of $330 (only $10 less than I originally paid for the phone, and considerably more than the phones are currently selling for on eBay).

    Apropos the “Disassembly Robot and Recycling” thread, well-reviewed screen replacement kits are available from Amazon for $40. Apparently, the iPhone 6s Plus is fairly repairable (I have years of experience; I doubt it’s a job for the faint-of-heart).

    Would I rather have an official Apple repair? Absolutely, and I would not have blinked at spending $150, and would have grudgingly paid $200. But when the dealer repair is far less convenient and four times the price of the corner mechanic (several shops in town will do the screen swap for $75 while-you-wait), it’s hard to justify going with Apple.

    I’m going to give the Amazon kit a go and find out for real how repairable the iPhone 6s Plus really is.

    –Ron

  3. It sounds like one of the issues involved with iPhone repairs is that most people don’t have backup phones. That’s not surprising — unless you keep a functional older model around for emergencies and can get it working through a SIM card swap or the like, a backup phone would seem extravagant.

    But then, if anything goes wrong, it’s hard to not have access to any iPhone for a week if it needs to go back to Apple. We sent Tonya’s iPhone 6s back to Apple for a new battery, but only after we’d gotten Tristan’s old iPhone 6’s battery replaced so Tonya could use that phone while hers was out for repair.

    So costs aside, immediacy of repair (or availability of loaners) is really key to dealing with a broken iPhone, and that’s something that Apple needs to work on. I know for a fact that the company does not compensate independent Apple Authorized Service Providers well for iPhone repairs, which has made that a tough business to get into or stay in. But it would seem that there’s enough demand for iPhone repair services — if Apple were to let that be a more lucrative business, it might encourage more companies to get into it.

  4. blm

    Last time I had my iPhone worked on (also for a new battery, a couple of
    years ago), Apple gave me a loaner, are they not doing that any more?

    Brian

  5. Wim

    Any comments on the 11.3.1 update for iphone 6+?

  6. This discussion is best handled in the comments on the article about iOS 11.3.1, so I’ve moved it here.

  7. I am running iOS 11.3.1 on my iPhone 6 with no problems.

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