Apple foregoes millions, won’t disable Face ID after third-party screen repairs

Apple foregoes millions, won’t disable Face ID after third-party screen repairs

Following the release of the iPhone 13 lineup in September, a teardown revealed a nasty surprise. Apple’s latest flagship phones disable Face ID after a third-party screen repair. This caused online outrage because plenty of small, independent stores depend on screen repairs to make ends meet, and plenty of iPhone users prefer third-party repairs as they’re much more affordable. As a result, the trillion-dollar company has decided to remove the restriction.

The Cupertino tech giant has told The Verge about its plans to remove this restriction in a future software update. Screen repairs done by third parties will no longer disable iPhone’s facial recognition system. This will allow customers in countries with no Apple-authorized centers to resume using their iPhones normally if they crack their screens.


Apple has added a microcontroller to the iPhone 13 lineup. Following a screen repair, the microcontroller must pair the new screen with the iPhone using Apple’s special repair tool. Independent service providers don’t have access to it, so the phone detects that. This results in an “Unable to activate Face ID on this iPhone” error.

This error will no longer be displayed following a future software update, and Face ID should work normally after third-party screen repairs. Apple hasn’t specified when the update will arrive, but we’re happy that it’s in the works. Apple has a history of imposing restrictions to dissuade iPhone users from getting third-party repairs. The company once completely bricked iPhones following third-party Touch ID home button repairs. The iPhone would display an error when attempting to reboot it. Apple eventually settled to disabling Touch ID only, rather than the entire phone.

It’s unclear why Apple would resort to these harsh treatments, apart from monopolizing the repair industry. The company might’ve even dodged a few potential lawsuits by reverting its decision to disable Face ID.

Do you repair your iPhones at Apple-authorized stores or independent ones? Let us know in the comments section below.

About author

Mahmoud Itani
Mahmoud Itani

Mahmoud is an Istanbul-based Beiruti who has always sought freedom through writing. His hobbies include keeping up with tech news, writing articles about Apple devices & services, crocheting, meditating, and composing poetry. You’ll likely find him jogging with his dogs at a park, swimming in open water, brainstorming at a coffeehouse, or merely lost in nature. He can be reached on Twitter @Mahmoudzitani or via [email protected]

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