For the past few months, reports have covered the ‘touch disease‘ that renders Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus nonfunctional. Investigation into the problem revealed that Apple removed the underfill from the controller chips that govern touchscreen functionality. The underfill typically fills the gaps between solder balls that attach a chip to its motherboard and prevents the solder from cracking under normal wear and tear. Removing the underfill means that the solder itself is responsible for holding up under flexion — and when the chips start failing as a result, touch screens stop working.
Up until this point, Apple has steadfastly refused to acknowledge the problem, even as independent analysis showed it was easily the largest issue causing device failures. Now, Apple has announced that it will offer a $149 repair option, but only for the iPhone 6 Plus.
The touchscreen ICs. Photo by iFixit
The company has published a webpage to alert customers to the issue, but continues to pretend the flaw is entirely its own users’ fault.
Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.
If your iPhone 6 Plus is exhibiting the symptoms noted above, is in working order, and the screen is not cracked or broken, Apple will repair your device for a service price of $149.
Apple will contact customers who may have paid for a service repair related to this issue either through Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to arrange reimbursement. If you have not been contacted but paid for a repair that you believe was related to this issue, please contact Apple.
The reimbursement amount will equal the difference between the price you paid for the original service to your iPhone 6 Plus and the $149 service price.
While we’re glad to see Apple formally offering repair and refunding the difference consumers may have already spent on the issue, it affects both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and not just the 6 Plus. It’s been known to occur even to devices that are kept in hard cases, and it isn’t the result of consumers mistreating their hardware. If Apple had used underfill or a metal plate to strengthen the phone, this issue wouldn’t happen — and given that Apple added such a plate in the iPhone 6s Plus, moved the touch ICs off the logic board, and went back to using underfill, it’s clear the company was fully aware that the original device had issues and simply chose not to address them. Ultimately, we’d prefer this program be free — similar repair programs in previous years have been. Apple really screwed this up.