As part of my work of more than 10 years, testing new iPhones for its fixability is one of them.
After doing some experiments, I have found out that the iPhone 12 cannot be repaired and it’s done intentionally by Apple.
That means all third party repairs are no longer possible for now and I’ll explain that in details later.
Testing on Two iPhone 12s
I had to buy two of them for this test as these phones are so new that there isn’t any parts available on the market.
So to get some parts to test on this phone I have to use an entire phone which is brand new.
First I turned up each phone and ensure it’s working from the factory state and now that I’ve both phones fully functioning it’s time to remove the security pentalobe screws.
Removal of iPhone 12 Internal Parts
I heated up the phone using a heat mat and used the 80 degrees setting for this proceeding. I then tried to separate the display using the sucker tool however I was having a lot of difficulty in opening.
Apple has increased the water resistant rating so they said what’s used is much stronger than before.
I even tried with a single suction cup applying as much upward force as I possibly could and that’s still didn’t work.
I repeated the heating process a few times and even broke my tool once luckily though it just screwed right back together and finally I was able to get it to work again.
Finally I started messing around with the internals. Every part inside this phone easily by removing the original display panel
Extra Care when Removing iPhone 12 Parts
One possible repair mistake I see people doing is breaking the earpiece cable given the flex cable was folded. I can see it getting ripped very easily.
To avoid causing any damage to the internal components I will first disconnect the battery before removing the display cables.
On the US version of iPhone 12 it has an extra 5G antenna on the side of the phone.
Another potential repair mistake is ripping a flex cable which is hidden underneath the sticker at the lower portion of the logic board.
There is also some fielding shields to remove to be able to access to more flex cables.
After disconnecting I can remove the screws and placed the logic board for the iPhone 12.
There are more steps to removing the logic board so please be extra careful not to break anything.
I repeated the steps above on the iPhone.
iPhone 12 Logic Board Swap Test
Now the moment has come so I’m going to swap the iPhone 12 logic board from the red iPhone.
I simply reassemble everything and make sure all cables are connected properly.
After the assembly, I turned on the iPhone but it wasn’t powering up.
I had to connect it a power source only then it was turning on.
The phone won’t let me do anything until you tap learn more.
It cannot verify the display and battery is genuine. By navigating into the battery section, it said the device needs to be serviced and disabled the battery capacity.
If you’re trying to login with face ID you can see it just times out and requires a password.
If I try and reset the face ID and set up again with a fresh face you can see that it says it’s not available and to try setting it up later.
iPhone 12 Camera Affected
We’ve seen this in the past few iPhones and what changes now is the camera has been affected.
It’s completely unstable and broken with the camera freezing in photo mode when switched to the 5X zoom.
Video mode for both cameras and zoom work fine after returning from 5X zoom, however after changing the camera two functions are now completely unusable.
Portrait mode only works for the front camera with the back one only flashing still images and a black screen is showing.
The camera app tends to lock up during relaunching and panoramas also don’t work
You can still see the cameras working fine but it’s blocked and won’t actually let you take a panorama.
Both of these phones and they have the exact same symptoms when the rear camera has been swapped.
Factory Reset iPhone 12
I thought this was just a software issues so I factory reset one of the devices through settings.
After doing that, it’s still complaining that face ID cannot be activated and it still displaying messages that battery has problems and the camera wasn’t working.
I did the swapping again and the disabling of other features as a result of the new part just disappears from the phone without warning.
I have not heard of anybody that has run into this issue given this phone is only a couple of weeks old I wanted to be 100% certain that I didn’t just damage the camera.
I swapped the original boards back into the correct housings to everything will be original again, that means you’ll have the original battery and face ID and other aspects of the phone.
Back to Normal after Swapping Back
I can see straight away the camera app is a lot more responsive and everything is working as it should
Switching over to Panorama is also working and all battery display warnings and face ID messages have disappeared.
In short, everything was working perfectly again.
I think by now you get the point that the camera doesn’t work when you replace it and then I don’t believe that this is a software bug but rather Apple locking down more components inside.
However, I can’t confirm that as Apple hasn’t publicly stated anything about it.
Cost to Repair iPhone 12
If third party repairs are disabled, it will not be beneficial to iPhone users because they can only opt to do the repairs at Apple authorized centres.
This means repairs will be more costly and difficult too.
Currently, there are no indication of prices to repair iPhone 12 but will be available soon.
iPhone 12 users can expect the repair to cost at least US$100 for a simple screen replacement, which is a common type of repair.
iPhone 12 Lockdown Repair by Apple
What we’ve learnt is that the iPhone 12 is more lockdown than ever before if you want to keep full functionality of this device you basically have no choice but to take it to Apple for repairs.
That also means we have to pay whatever apple is charging for repair if they even offer it.
Since these iPhone 12 is still very new, it will take some time before technicians from around the world will start to discover workaround to enable the repairs.
Meanwhile, please be extra careful when handling your device!