Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Customers Respond to an Apparent Hardware Defect Affecting iPhone 6 Plus Models

Jason Koebler, Vice:

After publishing our second article about the phenomenon, which is being called “touch disease,” my inbox flooded with stories from people who—many out of blind brand loyalty to Apple—have continued replacing their iPhone 6 Pluses with refurbished units that are just as likely to break as their old ones.

As we’ve detailed in those stories, “touch disease” is an iPhone 6 Plus flaw related to “bendgate” in which the two tiny “Touch IC” connectors, which translate touchscreen presses into a machine input, become unseated from the phone’s logic board. It can be recognized by flickering gray bars along the top of the phone, and is associated with intermittent or total touchscreen failure.

[…]

In the last 24 hours, I’ve gotten emails from 27 separate iPhone 6 Plus owners who have encountered this problem and were unaware that Apple internally considers it a known issue. Many of them have been put through lengthy tech support protocols on obviously broken phones only to be told that they would have to pay $329 for a refurbished phone that is still fundamentally flawed. Others have had to put up with months of forcefully bending or twisting the phone in order to get its Touch IC connectors to intermittently work for a few minutes, hours, or days before the problem inevitably resurfaces.

It seems pretty unfair to expect customers to shell out for a refurbished phone that will exhibit the same issue because of the engineering defect. Moreover, a few of the customers Koebler cites seem to have experienced unhelpful customer service while trying to get the problem resolved. This is something Apple ought to be making right, not making more complicated.

When there was an known engineering defect in my mid-2007 MacBook Pro, I took it in for the out-of-warranty repair program. They didn’t have any of my model’s logic boards in stock, so they replaced it with an upgraded version that had a better video card and faster processor, at no charge. That’s the kind of customer service users who are reporting this problem should be getting: either upgrade them to a 6S Plus which doesn’t exhibit the same issue, or refurbish the 6 Plus in such a way that the ICs are reinforced.