The Apple genius is not surprised when you hand him your 13 month old unresponsive iPhone 6+ with flickering grey bar at the top of the display. The guy next to you in line is there with the exact same problem. iPhone 6 Touch IC Failure!!!
http://bbcpak.com/idevicesApple is being sued by iPhone 6 and 6s owners who claim that a critical design flaw made their handsets completely unusable.
“The iPhones are not fit for the purpose of use as smartphones because of the touchscreen defect,” according to a proposed US class-action lawsuit filed over the weekend in San Jose, California.
Shortly afterwards, the screens had stopped working altogether, rendering the handsets useless.
The issue was traced back to a structural flaw in the iPhone 6 and 6s, which became widely known as #Bendgate following the handsets’ release in 2014.
Some users found that the phones were prone to gradual bending, particularly if stored in a back pocket.
Apple addressed the issue by introducing a strengthened rear case on its subsequent iPhone 6 Plus and 6s Plus models.
However, the issue with the iPhone 6 remains.
It is thought that the bending may cause cracks in the solder that connects the phone’s touchscreen to the logic board, resulting in a loss of connection.
This could potentially cause the grey bar and the unresponsive screens.
Touch Disease appears to manifest after around two years, at which point the solder that links the chips to the phone’s logic board appear to be weakened.
Despite the issue being widespread, Apple Stores and their technicians aren’t equipped for the repair, so people have to pay to have a third party fix it.
On Apple’s support forum, one owner posted: ‘I took [my phone] to the ‘Geniuses’ at Apple Store in Westfield Valley Fair shopping centre (Santa Clara, CA).
Touch Disease Goes Deeper than the Screen
Here’s where the plot thickens: Replacing the touchscreen doesn’t fix the problem. The gray bar eventually shows up on the new screen, too. Because, according to repair pros, the problem isn’t the screen at all. It’s the two touchscreen controller chips, or Touch IC chips, on the logic board inside the phone.
These two chips translate your finger mashing on the display into information your phone can actually use. When the Touch IC chips go bad, you can jab, tap, and poke the screen all you want—your phone can’t correctly process the information. At least, not until the bum chips are replaced with new ones.
Apple’s repair Geniuses aren’t equipped to make specialized repairs to the logic board in-house, so they can’t actually fix Touch Disease. But skilled, third-party microsoldering specialists (most “unauthorized” to do Apple repairs, according to official company policy)can fix phones with symptoms of Touch Disease. And they can do it a whole lot cheaper than the cost of a new logic board or an out-of-warranty phone replacement. Which is precisely why so many of these damaged iPhones are finding their way into repair shops around the world.
“The issue is ridiculously widespread and Apple should’ve issued a recall or maybe a free warranty repair on this problem already,” Huie told me via email. “If you own an iPhone 6+ and haven’t experienced the problem yet, then I think the chances are pretty high that you’ll experience it during the lifetime of the phone.”
Bendgate 2.0: The Crackening
After fixing hundreds of broken iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses, many pros have developed theoriesabout what causes Touch Disease in these two specific models. One microsoldering pro I spoke to speculated that the U2402 Meson chip—one of the two Touch IC chips on the board—has a manufacturing defect. But the most popular theory I heard is that Touch Disease is the unanticipated, long-term consequence of a structural design flaw: Bendgate.
Back when the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were first released, some owners discovered that the large, wide phones had a nasty habit of molding themselves to the shape of your rump if left too long in a back pocket. The phenomenon, known as Bendgate, was ostensibly put to bed when Apple apparently strengthened weak points in the rear case of the iPhone 6s.
“But the fact remains—compared to earlier iPhone models, the iPhone 6/6+ is kind of a ‘bendy’ phone. Its slim form factor and larger surface area subject the logic board within the phone to mechanical flexion pressure that no other iPhone has had to deal with,” Jessaexplains in a detailed blog post. The iPhone 6 Plus—the wider of the two phones—appears to be especially susceptible to this kind of damage.
In both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Touch IC chips connect to the logic board via an array of itty-bitty solder balls—“like a plate resting on marbles,” Jessa explains. Over time, as the phone flexes or twists slightly during normal use, those solder balls crack and start to lose contact with the board.
“At first, there may be no defect at all. Later you might notice that the screen is sometimes unresponsive, but it is quick to come back with a hard reset,” Jessa explains. “As the crack deepens into a full separation of the chip-board bond, the periods of no touch function become more frequent.” Any drops or heavy handling keep chipping away at the cracked solder balls. Damage enough of them, and the connections between the chips and the logic board are severed, signals are lost, touch gets glitchier, and then goes away altogether.Size Matters—But the Devil’s in the Details
Of course, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are also big phones—so why doesn’t Touch Disease happen to them, too? It turns out that size matters—but it’s not the only thing that matters. In the iPhone 6s/6s Plus, Apple moved the susceptible Touch IC chips off the logic board and onto the display assembly, presumably sheltering them from most of the flexing forces the logic board is subjected to.
And repair professionals have singled out other problematic design elements of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In other phones, a little blob of cured “underfill” beneath critical chips helps to keep solder balls secure—but there’s no underfill anchoring Touch IC chips to the board in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In previous iPhone models, Apple also covered the Touch IC chips with a rigid, metal EMI shield. In the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the rigid shield was replaced with a pliable sticker shield.
“Since the Touch IC chip doesn’t have underfill, nor a metal backing, it seems to be the first to ‘break off’ the logic board,” Huie explains. “When I say ‘break off,’ I mean the solder joints break off from the chip, which causes the no touch.”
So what are your options? Have the chips replaced, not just “reflowed”
Dozens of great cell phone repair shops around the world have been quietly solving this problem for months by replacing the touch ics on the board. Find a shop that will replace, not just “reflow” the touch ics. Reflowing, or simply heating up the existing chips in the hopes of shoring up the failed bond doesn’t solve the problem for very long.
When a pad under a chip is oxidized, molten solder will not be able to stick to it very well, and the solution only temporary. Removing the old touch ics gives the microsolderer a chance to clear any oxidation on the underlying pads, and ensure a solid bond between the board and new chip. Since there are two touch ics (cumulus chip and meson chip), both should be replaced. If you replace just one, the problem could be phantom-solved due to the side effect of reflowing the causative ic during replacement of the non-causative ic in that device.
The cost of touch ic replacement service is about the same as a screen replacement, it will extend the life of your device significantly.
But Apple doesn’t want you to know that.
If you ask Apple, like this user did, and this one, and this one . They will tell you that the only solution for an out-of-warranty iPhone 6/6+ is to pay the $299/$349 out of warranty replacement fee and exchange your phone for a new one. Well, new-to-you.
And this is the problem. When you fork over the money and open that pristine white box, the phone inside is not new. It is refurbished. Let’s think about that for a minute. There is nothing wrong with refurbishing an iPhone, in fact it is a great thing to do. But, HOW was that phone refurbished?
We know that iPhone 6/6+ is susceptible to touch ic disease with prolonged use, and that is exacerbated by any drop. This means that the iPhone 6/6+ board, at refurbishing, needs to have the touch ics replaced in order to return the board to a like-new condition. If not, then the “new” iPhone 6/6+ logic board nestled below the new screen is particularly prone to subsequent failure of the touch ics if it’s prior life history included a bad drop.
We don’t know the details of the Apple refurbishing process, but let’s make some logical guesses. What happens when you drop your iPhone and the glass is shattered but the frame is intact? If you go to the Apple Store, you’ll get an in house screen replacement for $109 and go on about your way. But if your phone was in a particularly bad tumble where the frame itself is damaged or bent, you won’t qualify for the straight up Apple screen replacement. Frame damage phones are excluded, and your option is to hand them your phone, pay the OOW swap fee, and leave with a refurbished phone.
What, then, happens to the phone you turned in? It will go back to the Apple Depot for refurbishing. Once there, the evidence suggests that the “good” board is harvested from the phone, and installed in a new frame with a new screen and battery and then sent back to the Apple Store to be handed to the next guy paying for an OOW replacement.
It is possible that Apple is refurbishing the board itself, i.e. replacing the touch ics, but I doubt it. Basic economics says that if the board passes a brief test of function that it is deemed “good to go” and would be salvaged as is. After all, the $349 refurbished iPhone 6+ only needs to last 90 days in order to meet Apple’s warranty period for out of warranty swaps. The cost of high-throughput logic board rework to replace the touch ics on all boards taken in by Apple would be extraordinary, many of which would not have been unlucky enough to have the touch ics fail anyway, so why bother?
The anecdotes we do know about Apple’s refurbishing process are telling. Here we see an Apple refurbished iPad mini board that had the power management ic replaced. The refurbished board was installed in the new mini despite water damage on a few capacitors and no attempt was made to replace the underfill that IS part of the design for the iPad mini power chip. The result–the board failed on a subsequent drop.