Apple implements a change to its iPhone screen repair policy, in a 9to5Mac note (shared with iMore for the first time). Apple demonstrates the need for repair centers to use calibration hardware when performing screen repairs for iPhone 6s and later.
Calibration is now achieved through software only. This should make repairs faster and make it easier for more repair locations to open up around the world, assuming that Apple is also easing its relatively strict approval policy for setting up new repair centers.
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When Touch ID debuted with the iPhone 5s, the home button was cryptographically linked to the display and the logic board. If you replace an iPhone screen and digitizer without going through Apple's own calibration process, this would result in an iPhone with a new screen, but a non-functional fingerprint sensor. The same applies to the Face ID biometric system introduced with iPhone X.
Additional calibration steps were required when iPhone screens became pressure sensitive to 3D Touch features, starting with iPhone 6s. Until today, Apple had to distribute comprehensive repair equipment to its own Apple Store repair centers and authorized resellers to confirm that the 3D Touch system is working properly.
The special hardware would claim that the screen reports the pressure correctly, and then other software diagnostics ensure that the biometric systems are properly paired and verify that the overall repair was successful.
Apple has now succeeded in achieving all calibration steps using only software, reducing the need for special physical hardware to be installed on repair locations. Repaired devices can now be calibrated by simply connecting them to a Mac Mini or MacBook Air running the diagnostic software. This has several advantages.
It means that workspaces for screen repairs no longer need to make room for special equipment. The software-only process is apparently also considerably faster than the previous procedure, hopefully shortens the turnaround time for customers.
Finally, this makes it easier for Apple to roll out more licensed third-party locations. Currently, screen repairs can be performed on-site at Apple Stores and some external resellers. Apple has been reluctant to distribute the special hardware in many places, but it is considerably easier to send immaterial software. No doubt Apple still has a strict approval and security policy for burgeoning repair locations, but it is a big step forward.