Dropping your smartphone on a sidewalk is one way to kill its touchscreen. If you own an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, however, there’s a “disease” that could kill it.
More and more iPhone 6 and 6 Plus owners are seeing their devices spontaneously stop responding to touch input. Unlike the battle-weary phone at the top of this post, replacing the screen isn’t making any difference for these unlucky folks.
That’s because the touchscreen itself isn’t the problem. It’s actually an issue with the iPhone 6/6 Plus touch IC: a design flaw is causing the chip to lose contact with the main logic board. If your iPhone has the flaw, you don’t have to do anything crazy to contract what’s been dubbed “touch disease.”
Even if you’re careful with your phone, the touch IC can still come loose. If you notice a thin, flickering gray bar mysteriously appearing along the top edge of your iPhone’s display, that’s really bad news: it’s got the disease.
Jessa Jones, who does repairs at iPad Rehab, has started seeing a lot of iPhones with this particular issue. She notes a couple of changes in the iPhone 6 that make it susceptible.
One is that Apple didn’t use a stiff shield behind the touch IC — it’s just a flexible sticker (above). There’s also no underfill, a sort of glue that’s injected and then cured that cements a chip to a PCB. Not a great choice from a repairability standpoint, maybe, but it adds quite a bit of durability.
For someone like Jones, the repair is easy enough: remove the old touch IC and solder another one in its place. iPad Rehab is also installing metal shields on touch disease phones to make them more resilient.