If a new report is true, your iPhone 6 and 6 Plus might have an expiration date unrelated to failing batteries or outdated tech. Some users report that over time the touchscreen on these iPhone models becomes unresponsive, and that, eventually, a flickering gray bar will appear on the top of the screen. After that the phone is toast. While the phone may be intermittently operational afterwards, it’s unlikely to make a full recovery. What was once an attractive hunk of Apple engineering will now be a computer you operate exclusively by Siri and your tears.
The report comes from Julia Bluff at iFixit. iFixit is a repair vendor that made its bones fixing iPhones and Apple laptops, but has since become a catch-all site featuring guides to repair nearly all your consumer electronics. It received reports about the touchscreen issue from the mom and pop repair shops it supplies with spare Apple parts.
Now dubbed “Touch Disease,” the issue appears to affect iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices, many of which are now approaching two-years-old. The root cause, according to iFixit, is a problem with two chips on the iPhone that govern touch responsiveness. If these chips go bad, or become disconnected, then the phone will no longer respond to touch. The solder that links the chips to the phone’s logic board appears to be weakened in Touch Disease afflicted devices.
The fix, if you’re willing to crack open your phone and bust out your soldering iron, is relatively simple, and any good micro-solderer can do it.
Unfortunately, Apple Stores and Certified Apple Repair technicians aren’t equipped for the repair, and so, instead, people have no choice but to pay for the much costlier logic board replacement.
The bigger issue is that this appears to be a product of the stupid “Bendgate” issue identified a few years back. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus flex more than other phones, which causes all of their guts flex too. The soldering beads connecting the chips to the logic board can’t handle the long-term repetitive stress of your back pocket and fat ass bending the phone.
Structural problems that only reveal themselves deep into a product’s life aren’t new, and Apple is no stranger to the issue. Yet with consumers waiting longer to upgrade between phones, a flaw like this isn’t an end-of-lifeannoyance, but rather a very costly failure.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.