Need Your iPhone’s Face ID Camera Fixed? Apple May Soon Be Making Repairs Much Easier (and Cheaper)

Shattered iPhone Face ID Camera Screen Broken Credit: Anton Maksimov / Unsplash
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It’s about to get a lot easier — and likely less expensive — to get the Face ID camera system on your phone fixed, according to a new internal memo making the rounds among Apple service technicians.

Until now, if you encountered a hardware problem with Face ID on your iPhone, the only way an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider could fix it was to replace the entire iPhone.

That wasn’t a huge concern if the iPhone was under warranty, but could get pretty costly for folks looking to get repairs for older models like the iPhone XS.

However, now it looks like Apple has figured out a way for repair technicians to replace only the necessary camera modules, leaving the rest of the iPhone alone.

A new memo obtained by MacRumors notes that technicians will soon have access to a new TrueDepth camera service part that contains all the components needed to power Face ID, including the front camera models and other sensors.

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The intent behind this, Apple notes in the memo, is to help the company reduce its environmental impact. Although replaced iPhones do get repaired, refurbished, or at least salvaged for parts, there’s still the carbon footprint of shipping them back to Apple, not to mention the need for stores and service providers to keep replacement units in stock.

Same-unit repairs will naturally avoid this by replacing only the necessary components and letting the customer retain the same iPhone. Although the memo didn’t go into pricing details, this will hopefully also result in lower prices for this particular out-of-warranty repair, and customers also won’t have to worry about backing up and restoring their data to a new iPhone.

iPhone Repair Challenges

Although repairing single components like this may seem like an obvious thing, in reality, it’s far from simple. The iPhone is a complex device, and Apple Stores and Authorized Service Providers don’t necessarily have the equipment to handle every possible type of repair.

In fact, there was a time when even a broken screen would result in Apple swapping out your iPhone for a replacement unit. Your original unit would then be sent back to Apple, where the screen would be repaired, after which it would become a replacement unit for the next person.

This has gradually changed over the course of the last few years, starting with in-store screen replacements, and more recently even the back glass for the iPhone 12, which also once required the entire iPhone to be swapped out for a new one, as it turns out it’s surprisingly hard to do.

Generally, when Apple announces these new service options, they provide the necessary tools and modular components to make these replacements fast and easy. That’s likely what we’re going to see with this new TrueDepth camera module.

Of course, Apple also doesn’t make it easy on its technicians either, thanks to its penchant for locking down hardware components such that replacements have to be paired up to the specific iPhone that they’re being installed into.

While it’s understandable how this kind of security applies to the TrueDepth camera — you don’t want somebody being able to install a counterfeit part that can bypass Face ID, after all — it’s also how Apple ensures that only “genuine parts” can be used to repair devices.

In the past, right-to-repair advocates have accused Apple of using these techniques to deliberately drive up repair costs by ensuring that only Apple Authorized Service Providers can participate. While it’s hard to say how true those allegations were, Apple has begun opening up to DIY repairs, offering the necessary manuals, tools, and genuine parts for anybody who wants to conduct their own self-repairs.

For now, that’s limited primarily to things like screen repairs, however, and even though Apple says it plans to expand the program over the next several months, it’s likely that these new TrueDepth camera repairs will still require a visit to an Apple Store for quite some time.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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