Mistake or Mischief: The New iPhone 12

The first trillion dollar company on the public market just released their new 5G compatible flagship: the iPhone 12. Drowned out by popularity, Apple has run into another problem regarding independent repair companies and phone servicing. While their exterior build quality and marketing are top of the line, the fan favorite is notorious for its inability to provide consistently reliable devices in the past decade, and the newest line of devices have yet to diverge from this path.

At the heart of every Apple device lies a logic board. This is the cluster of the most crucial components such as the new A13 Bionic processor, the most powerful smartphone CPU yet. However, many feel some components are best left extraneous i.e. soldered on storage devices, as the majority of other manufacturers have separate, expandable drives. Regardless, the logic board has a unique identification number, and without it you would not have a phone, computer, or anything in between.

Here’s where the controversy lies. YouTuber, Hugh Jeffreys, dismantled two identical iPhone 12 devices and put them to the test. He swapped the logic boards of the devices to ensure there would be no conflict in components. In any other model there would be a seamless transition and both phones could be used as normal, as they are occupying identical hardware. 

With the iPhone XS or newer, replacing the battery with a third party component would result in a persistent message stating there is an unauthorized battery in the phone (even if it was made in the same factory) making self repair an unfavorable alternative. This is reasonable at best, given it is an ingenuine product, but it coaxes people into their stores. However, “the vlogger reported difficulty in getting the same device to boot back up… When the screen did eventually turn on, Jeffreys was greeted with notifications to the effect that non-genuine parts were installed.”

This indicates components are being serialized to a greater extent. Now, a genuine Apple camera cannot be used to replace a broken one because this company placed a firmware restriction on the device. This is no means of data protection, nor an attempt at better performance; it is a blatant effort to put independent repair stores out of business and force people to pay hundreds for Apple’s proprietary repair service.

Jeffrys didn’t just have a bad batch either. There are many reports from tech enthusiasts observing the same results. But let’s give Apple the benefit of the doubt here and contradict years of similar behavior. Let’s say this flaw is an accidental issue. A fluke like this has occurred in a large proportion of their devices: phones and laptops alike:

  • Mid 2012 13” MacBook Pro had a poorly designed hard drive cable that needed to be replaced as many as three times in some users’ MacBooks.
  • 2016 13” MacBook Pro had a randomly failing backlight IC. Apple’s repair costs for logic board replacements are upwards of $500, when a <$2 chip is causing the issue.
  • A1466 MacBook Air series laptops have Apple’s proprietary connector for diagnosis called the JTAG connector. This was a hotspot for corrosion and could break “termination resistor” traces, preventing a bootup.
  • iPhone 5-8’s “Tristar” power/charging distribution IC was among the most common failures of these devices. Using a third party charger could break this component and cause excessive battery drain. 
  • 2014 iPhone 6/6 plus (bendgate) could be bent in the user’s pockets due to cheap aluminum. The bending can break solder joints and render the phone unusable.

The list goes on and there’s really no excuse.

 It’s costing you thousands. Not only is your wallet at risk, but also your important data. Some 2016 MacBook Pro and newer models are changing to onboard solid state storage, similar to iPhones. Before, if you were to somehow break your computer, you could remove a few screws, swap the SSD into another device, and not risk losing irreplaceable family photos. Now, a drop of water anywhere on your keyboard has the potential to lose every family photo you’ve taken. The overwhelming majority of manufacturers would never think to do something like this.

When you purchase something like an iPhone (assuming it isn’t being financed) you gain full ownership of the device and everything inside. No company has any jurisdiction over what you do with the components in the phone. Apple is leading the charge to take away this privilege. They are selling you the house, but are keeping the key to the backdoor. If you lose access to the front, they’ll be expecting your $359 phone call.

Yes, they’re savvy, well designed, and have an easy-to-use interface, but take serious consideration of your needs and what you are willing to give up the next time you walk through the glass panes. 

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