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iFixit confirms iPhone 13 Face ID fails after third-party display replacement in comprehensive teardown

Iphone 13 Display Removal
Iphone 13 Display Removal (Image credit: iFixit)

What you need to know

  • Apple's iPhone 13 has been taken apart by the professionals at iFixit.
  • iFixit has confirmed that replacing an iPhone 13 with a third-party display breaks Face ID.
  • Face ID can't be restored by switching Face ID components.

Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone it's only a matter of time before the folks at iFixit rip it apart. That's now happened for iPhone 13 and the outfit has confirmed what we previously reported — third-party displays are a no-go on iPhone 13 if you want Face ID to work.

In a comprehensive teardown of an iPhone 13 Pro device, iFixit confirmed that Face ID requires an Apple display in order to work, despite the new Face ID setup actually making it easier to switch displays out. And while some had pondered whether transferring Face ID tech to the new display might get things up and running again, iFixit tried that with no luck.

Face ID works even when we disconnected the front sensor assembly. However, any display replacement knocks out Face ID. We tried transferring the sensors from the old display and porting over the Face ID hardware, but no dice. It looks like the display is serial-locked to the phone.

This, and the fact Apple's devices are made of glass that breaks, means the iPhone 13 Pro tested by iFixit was given a repairability score of 5/10/ Not terrible, but far from great.

Apple put the iPhone 13 lineup on sale on September 27 and it's undoubtedly the best iPhone lineup the company has ever offered. But it suffers from the same repairability issues other iPhones have, while adding the Face ID situation to the mix.

You can read the full teardown post to get the ins and outs of how this thing is put together and, importantly, how it comes apart.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • While I typically abhor government intrusion in our lives, it may be time for legislation to force companies to make these things repairable by 3rd parties and end users.
  • I am a big fan of Apple when it comes to repairs never an issue at all and super honest. There is no Samsung stores to get their phones fixed plus by mail is as awesome as in an Apple store
  • I love Apple products. As many of us, I am an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac both personal and work but this is just giving those that are behind right to repair more fuel. Granted I always get AppleCare and have Apple (Or an Apple Authorized Repair Center) perform my repairs but there are many out there that have an older device (Eventually the iPhone 13 will be older) that don't want to take their non-covered device to a third party repair shop. I admit I did that with an older Mac mini that I have and wanted to put a SSD in it when the 1TB spinning drive died but that Mini was only going to be relegated to being a media server.