Several owners of iPhone 6 phones as well as numerous independent repair technicians have been complaining for a while now about a mysterious problem known as ‘Touch Disease’ that has been killing phones. Apple has finally responded to the complaints after a long period of silence on the issue.
The main symptoms that have been reported by affected users include problems with the responsiveness of the touch screen, as well as a flickering gray bar appearing at the top of the display. The problem gets progressively worse until it is either fixed or the phone becomes completely unusable. Some repair techs have reported multiple instances of the same problem every day.
What Is Touch Disease?
Recently, there has been an increasing number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users reporting that their phones’ touch screens are becoming unresponsive and that their devices constantly freeze up. In fact, the issue has even gained an ominous-sounding name – Touch Disease.
Because of the huge number of iPhones in use throughout the world, a problem affecting only a fraction of a percent of all iPhone users, potentially impacts thousands of users. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that the problem is much more widespread.
Until now, Apple had never acknowledged the problem officially, but there are numerous independent iPhone repair techs and device vendors who claim that the problem is one of the most common complaints they receive from their customers. In fact, during August and September, there have been class action suits filed in the US and Canada by dissatisfied iPhone owners with regard to the issue.
The most obvious symptom of the problem is the appearance of a flickering grey bar at the top edge of the display. However, the flickering is not the only problem; users have also reported that, alongside the flickering grey bar, their phone screens often become completely unresponsive.
By far, the iPhone 6 Plus – which was released by Apple in 2014 – is the model that is most commonly affected by Touch Disease but the issue has also been seen to a lesser extent in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S models as well.
Apple’s Touch Disease Fix
A look at the description of what Apple calls the “Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus,” reveals that the company places blame squarely at the feet of its customers, saying that the fault is a result of a phone being “dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.” However, the company has said that if a user is experiencing this problem and their screen is not cracked, the device can be brought in for repair at a cost of $149. The Touch Disease fix will be available for five years from the original date of purchase.
Although this cost is significantly lower than Apple’s standard fee for warranty repairs, it is still not free. It also comes as little consolation to users who chose to replace their devices rather than go through the hassle of fixing them.
For users who had previously paid a service fee to have their phones’ logic boards replaced by an authorized Apple service center, the company will reimburse the difference between the service cost and the $149 for the new fix. The Touch Disease fix is a worldwide program.
iFixit, which first raised the issue of Touch Disease several months ago, has issued a statement expressing disappointment in the Apple program, saying that it does not do enough. In a statement from the iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, the response is confirmation that solder joints beneath the iPhone 6’s touch IC components are prone to failure.
However, he takes issue with Apple’s description of the problem, since it has also been seen in devices that have never been dropped.
Wiens also claims that an unnamed Apple Genius has claimed that the company is swapping out the devices brought in for fixing with refurbished phones instead of repairing them. “The underlying problem is insufficient structural support around the logic board,” he adds.
It seems rather curious that the fix offered by Apple for Touch Disease is not covered under its standard warranty terms. After all, many people think the problem is actually Apple’s fault. However, iPhone 6 Plus owners can at least take solace in the fact that the company has come out to offer an official solution to this unofficial problem.
Although there have been reports of the problem cropping up in the smaller iPhone 6, Apple has not indicated whether they would put a program in place for owners of this model. A blog post on iFixit says that the iPhone 6 Plus’ large size made it more susceptible, in spite of reinforcements added to try and resolve the device’s tendency to bend. Is your iPhone experiencing Touch Disease?