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6+ Touch Issues

After months of refusing to admit they had a problem, Apple is finally offering customers a fix for Touch Disease.  The issue—which affects iPhone 6 and (predominantly) 6 Pluses—often  manifests as a gray flickering bar and touch screen responsiveness  problems. Eventually, the screen loses functionality all together.  Today, Apple announced it is offering owners of iPhone 6 Pluses a $149  option for Touch Disease-affected phones.

Since we reported on the issue back in August, there has been growing public pressure  for Apple to address the widespread problem. Repair technicians we  spoke to attributed the problem to a structural design flaw in the wide,  thin phones. Stress on the phone causes the chips governing touch  functionality to eventually lose connection with the motherboard.

While Apple is finally admitting the  problem, they aren’t calling it Touch Disease. Instead they are  describing it as “display flickering or Multi-Touch issues.” And they  aren’t attributing it to a manufacturing defect. Instead, Apple says  Touch Disease occurs after the phone has been “dropped multiple times on  a hard surface.”

Apple’s statement confirms what the independent repair industry has been saying  for a long time: the problem is failed solder joints beneath the touch  IC components. Apple is correct that dropping the device onto a hard  surface could cause this issue. But that’s not the only cause: we have  seen this problem on phones that have never been dropped. And in phones  that have lived their entire lives protected in cases. The root problem  is insufficient structural support around the logic board.

Apple is calling this the  “Multi-Touch Repair Program”, but it looks like they are not actually  repairing customers’ phones. An Apple Genius told us that they are  swapping customer phones with a refurbished device. The repair service  does not transfer your data over to the new device — customers must  backup their important information. We chatted with Apple Support and  they told us that the warranty for the repair is 90 days.

As Motherboard reported,  Apple has had chronic issues with Touch Disease on refurbished devices  in the past, and a limited 90-day warranty on this ‘repair’ does not  instill confidence that the repaired units will stay fixed. Independent  board repair specialists, on the other hand, have been fixing the  motherboard on Touch Disease phones for a similar price (depending on  the tech) as Apple’s Multi-Touch Repair Program since this problem first  cropped up.

If you’ve already paid to replace your Touch Disease-affected phone through Apple, the company is offering a $149 reimbursement.

The program is a good start, but it  doesn’t go nearly far enough. Apple is still charging a lot of money for  the device swap. And they’re only replacing iPhone 6 Pluses, even  though many iPhone 6 owners have also been affected.

Apple should come clean, admit the  manufacturing deficiency, and extend their warranty on this issue to 24  months from the original date of purchase (the same warranty that  iPhones have in Europe) for both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Lawsuits on the matter are still pending.