This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
In order to repair or replace the iPhone 12's camera, the official Apple tool, which is only available to Apple-certified technicians, has reportedly been found to be required.
The report was released by iFixit, a repair company familiar with disassembling tech products. The company recently released a teardown report on the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro. iFixit discovered the issue when the very process of teardown involved swapping the iPhone 12's camera module between multiple devices.
After exhaustive testing, comparing notes from multiple repair technicians, and examining leaked official Apple training documents, iFixit has found that the iPhone 12 camera is entirely unreliable when swapped between iPhones.
YouTuber Taylor Dixon also verified this phenomenon in practice: when he transferred the camera on his iPhone 12 to another iPhone 12, it appeared to work on launch, but fails miserably in actual use. It refuses to switch to the ultra-wide camera, responds only to certain camera modes, and occasionally hangs and becomes completely unresponsive.
And iFixit notes that Apple may be planning on locking out all unauthorized iPhone camera and screen repairs.
Apple’s official training document above tells authorized technicians that, starting with the 12 and its variants, they will need to run Apple’s proprietary, cloud-linked System Configuration app to fully repair cameras and screens. This means that only authorized contractors who are authorized to access Apple's cloud servers may be able to repair the device.
Nevertheless, iFixit also reports that the camera swap between iPhones of the same model worked without any problems, and replacing the screen between multiple iPhone 12s worked only with a warning that it may not be a genuine product. The official Apple documentation may not be all that thorough, either, which means that it may only be partially implemented.
The issue of non-Apple unauthorized vendors replacing parts that become inoperable has a precedent that once happened with the Home button, which also has Touch ID integration. Just as it did then, it may be the catalyst for the "right to repair" movement to be reignited once again.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.