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Repair shops might not be able to swap iPhone 12 screens and cameras

Ifixit X Ray Iphone 12 Wallpapers
Ifixit X Ray Iphone 12 Wallpapers (Image credit: iFixit)

What you need to know

  • iFixit has shared the findings of its iPhone 12 repairability tests.
  • Replacing a screen might be a problem for third-party shops.
  • The same goes for cameras.

Apple is already on the bad side of third-party repair shops and things don't seem likely to get any better following the release of the iPhone 12 lineup. According to iFixit's latest report, the new handsets don't like having their screens and cameras replaces – unless you happen to have Apple's proprietary System Configuration app.

Which only Apple has.

As iFixit found out when carrying out its tests, neither the screen nor cameras respond well to beings swapped between devices. unless an Apple technician runs it by the System Configuration app. That's backed up by Apple's internal documentation, too.

But it is also possible that Apple is planning on locking out all unauthorized iPhone camera and screen repairs. Apple's internal training guides tell authorized technicians that, starting with the 12 and its variants, they will need to run Apple's proprietary, cloud-linked System Configuration app to fully repair cameras and screens.

However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the replacement parts won't work at all. But there's a good chance that they won't work in the way users would expect. That level of the unknown is bad in itself and, ultimately, it's something that probably isn't needed at all.

This doesn't mean that an iPhone camera, or screen, will not work at all without an official tech's touch. We performed multiple screen-swaps between iPhone 12 models and they function as expected, albeit with Apple's misleading on-screen warning that the displays might not be "genuine" (even though they are). But it doesn't look good for independent repair. Apple is putting yet another question mark on a core component of the iPhone. Why? Why does a camera need to have its serial number authorized remotely by Apple just to let someone take pictures with their phone?

I'd suggest checking out the full iFixit report to see what the folks found during their work. None of it is particularly good news and it's becoming increasingly clear that Apple wants you to take your broken iPhone to its stores – or those authorized by it – or nowhere at all.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

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.