Apple appears to be continuing its streak of limiting third party repairs. Reports have surfaced that the new iOS 11.3 update break the touch interface on iPhone 8s which have used third party repair services.
Replacement displays appear to be at the root of the problem, with some iPhone owners reporting that their phones no longer work after installing the update. All iPhone displays are controlled by a specific microchip, which seems to get disabled in the event that the display is replaced by anyone who isn’t Apple or one of its authorised service centres.
This behaviour isn’t very surprising either, as Apple has long taken measures to ensure that all repairs go through its own channels. The FaceID functionality and Home button both require in-house repairs or they will simply stop working. Even if the parts used come from Apple factories.
On one level, it’s understandable that Apple wants to ensure the integrity of its products. The company is obsessed with privacy and security, and leaving the devices in the hands of unrecognised repair shops could compromise its ability to protect customer data.
That said, Apple’s own repair services do not come cheaply; nor are they always located near iPhone owners. Which is why some turn to third party solutions in the first place. Preventing this is more of a disservice to customers who live far from an authorised service centre.
For now, it’s unlikely that iOS 11.3 causes widespread problems. The device hasn’t been around long enough for that many people to have already needed display replacements from third party repair services.