The new iPhone 12 range just became available around the world, expanding the lineup to various price points once again. If you’re planning to get one, here’s a word of caution: stick to Apple for all your after-sales service… at least for now.
While iPhones generally tend to have a long life, any sort of repairs are usually not cheap. This has led to a big market of third-party specialists who can fix products at a more digestible rate, in markets such as India. Apple has historically been pretty strict with not allowing unofficial engineers to get inside its products, creating an ecosystem of difficult-to-fix devices. With the iPhone 12, it takes things a notch higher.
iFixit’s iPhone 12 teardown gave it a score of only 6 on 10 for repairability. More interestingly, it was discovered that swapping parts — even between two iPhone 12s — usually results in failure. These repairs and replacements can only be done by Apple to work perfectly, locking out all “unauthorized” screen and camera replacements.
A leaked Apple repair manual also suggested that the entire iPhone 12 series will require proprietary cloud-linked system configuration for the replacement of the battery, screen or cameras. These parts have a serial number of sorts on them which will work perfectly only when paired with the same device. Only Apple’s authorized repair network has access to the tools to change the soft serial numbers on the chips.
iFixit argues that serial-matching makes sense on components such as Touch ID fingerprint scanners as they access the Secure Enclave on the iPhone, but that shouldn’t be the case for parts such as the battery or camera. Apple will anyway push an alert warning that non-genuine parts are being used.
There’s a chance that the camera switching constraints could be resolved via future updates. Till then, we’d recommend resorting only to official stores for any iPhone 12 fixes rather than risk having a half-working phone.