iPhone Touch Disease: What Is It And Do You Have It?

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iPhone Touch Disease may sound like the name of a made-up malady, but it’s a very real — and entirely frustrating — condition. Touch screens on Apple phones affected by iPhone Touch Disease may exhibit a flickering grey bar as they become increasingly difficult to use. Taps, gestures, and pinches fail to register on the screen, and eventually, the phone is rendered inoperable. The iPhone Touch Disease problem is widespread, but there may be something you can do about it.

What is iPhone Touch Disease?

iPhone Touch Disease is a term coined by techies at iFixit to describe a design flaw that causes touch functionality chips to become detached from the motherboard in certain iPhones. As iFixit explains, inadequate solder joints located under iPhone 6 touch screen integrated circuits fail at a remarkable rate and are responsible for the preponderance of hardware problems currently experienced by Apple iPhone 6+ users.

iPhone 5S may have been the beginning of the problem

As iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones age, more and more people complain about touch screen problems that were not apparent in most iPhone 5 models. Due to customer demand for high-powered functionality and bigger batteries, the basic architecture inside the iPhone underwent small but significant changes, beginning with the iPhone 5S. Previous iPhone models boasted motherboards with integrated touch screen chips that were securely anchored with solder and a tar-like underfill. In iPhone 5S, this secure footing was replaced by a ball grid array minus the stabilizing underfill beneath the touch screen chips, explain tech experts at iPad Rehab. When Apple released the slimmer, wider iPhone 6, the “bendiness” of the phone increased mechanical flexion — and touch screen problems — exponentially.

Repair technician Michael Huie told iFixit that iPhone Touch Disease is everywhere:

“The issue is ridiculously widespread and Apple should’ve issued a recall or maybe a free warranty repair on this problem already. 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.”

DIY iPhone fixes that may or may not work

Users unwilling to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new iPhone have come up with some pretty amazing do-it-yourself fixes that appear to bring an unresponsive Apple touch screen back to life, at least for a little while. DIY touch disease repairs noted on YouTube include twisting the body of the iPhone and chilling the device by way of a window mounted air conditioner.

One way to fix iPhone Touch DiseaseFeatured image credit: D. KeineiStock

Apple will fix devices affected by iPhone Touch Disease

On in November 17, 2016, the Apple company announced that it will repair iPhone products that exhibit certain symptoms of so-called “Multi-Touch issues.” The repair will not be free, however. If the touch screen of your Apple iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus is flickering and unresponsive, and if the screen on an otherwise operable phone is not cracked or broken, Apple will repair your sick iPhone for $149. Additionally, Apple says that it will reimburse iPhone users who have already paid more than $149 to an official service provider who repaired their Touch Disease stricken iPhone, according to the official Apple website.

Or will they?

According to Engadget magazine, Apple is not exactly repairing affected phones, but may offer to swap a device affected by iPhone Touch Disease for a refurbished iPhone 6+. The swap does not include data backup or transfer of contacts, images, and other crucial iPhone files. Engadget notes that the limited 90-day warranty included with the pricey phone swap “does not instill confidence” in the refurbished units.

iPhone Touch Disease frustrates Apple consumersFeatured image credit: Sergey NivensThinkstock

iPhone Touch Disease class action suit pending

At least four law firms in California and Canada have filed class action suits on behalf of phone owners affected by iPhone Touch Disease, says CBC News. Inland Empire litigation firm McCune, Wright, & Arevalo alleges that iPhone 6 models are built with a design defect, and that Apple has been aware of the problem for some time. The law firm asserts that Apple should bear the entire cost to repair or replace affected iPhones and to refund all out-of-pocket expenses associated with iPhone Touch Disease. Further info is available at the McCune, Wright, & Arevalo website.