Apple will make it easier to replace an iPhone 13 screen without breaking Face ID

A software update to fix the issue is on the way.

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Kris Holt
November 9, 2021 2:23 PM
A medium shot of the notch housing the iPhone 13 Pro's front camera.
David Imel for Engadget

Soon after the iPhone 13 was released, an iFixit teardown showed that Face ID stopped working if the display was replaced by a third-party repair shop, unless they transferred a microcontroller from the original screen. Apple will soon mitigate the issue with an upcoming software update, so Face ID will still function even without swapping the chip to the new display.

"A solution will be available in an upcoming software update," Apple told Engadget. The Verge first reported on the forthcoming fix.

Moving the microcontroller from the device's original screen to a replacement is no easy feat — iFixit noted a microscope is needed. That may have put independent repair shops outside of Apple's Independent Repair Provider network in a tough spot, since it takes more time and special equipment to replace a screen and swap in the microcontroller.

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Not now

It's not clear when Apple will roll out the software update to remedy the problem, though questions remain over why the Face ID function broke in the first place if the microcontroller wasn't moved over. The controversy emerged amid a broader push by the US government to strengthen right-to-repair rules.

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