Skip to comments.Does Your iPhone Suffer from So-Called 'Touch Disease'?
Posted on 10/04/2016 8:14:01 PM PDT by Elderberry
An increasing number of iPhone users are reporting an issue with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones freezing up and becoming unresponsive to touch.
The issue even has a deadly sounding name: "Touch disease."
There are a lot of iPhones out there, so a problem that affects a fraction of a percent of devices could potentially impact thousands of users. But there's some evidence that this particular issue is fairly widespread.
Apple has never officially acknowledged the problem, but independent iPhone repair vendors and Apple Store technicians have said that it is easily one of the most common issues that people need to fix. In August and September, customers in California and Canada have filed proposed class action suits over it.
Is your iPhone 6 Plus on the fritz? Here's what you need to know about "touch disease."
How can I tell if my phone has touch disease?
The most visible symptom is a flickering grey bar at the top of your screen. But the flickering screen isn't the only symptom. Frequently, users report that after the grey bar starts flickering, the screen becomes intermittently unresponsive across the entire display.
What phones are affected?
By far, the most commonly affected model is the iPhone 6 Plus that first went on sale in 2014.
One of the most common theories behind "touch disease" is that certain contacts inside the phone are bending, which leads to them breaking. The theory goes, the iPhone 6 Plus had the most complaints about bent phones, so it's the one that's having the most issues with touch disease.
The issue has been reported in the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S ,and iPhone 6S Plus as well, but at lower rates.
How much does it cost to get fixed?
If you're out of warranty, Apple will quote you a $329 replacement cost.
However, Motherboard talked to some current and former Apple Store technicians and reports that if your iPhone is only slightly out of warranty, then you might get a less expensive replacement cost -- perhaps $100 -- especially since Geniuses know it's not necessarily your fault.
You could also go to a third-party repair shop and save some money, but be careful, because it's a very difficult repair. Having a repair done independently also means that an Apple Store won't even look at your phone for repairs going forward.
Can I fix it myself?
Unlikely, unless you're a very skilled solderer. Even iFixit doesn't recommend doing the repair in your home. as this video shows.
What should I know when I bring my phone into the Apple Store?
If your phone is cracked, you may think those cracks are causing lack of responsiveness. But in fact, you could have touch disease as well.
Simply replacing the cracked screen will not fix the problem if it's a touch disease issue -- in fact, you might get a new screen that's still unresponsive to your touch.
Additionally, if Apple gives you a replacement device, it's probably a refurbished device, and it could be suffering from touch disease as well. Those refurbs only have a 90-day warranty, so understand that you need to flag touch disease problems before that warranty runs out.
What's the actual technical problem?
According to one recently filed class action lawsuit, which cites iFixit, the issue is with the phone's logic board -- the main circuit board inside the iPhone which all of Apple's various chips use to talk to each other.
On that board. there are two "IC" chips that "convert the touches on the touchscreen into actions in Apple's iPhone software."
Apparently the logic board bends during regular use, thanks to an engineering flaw on the iPhone 6 Plus, which means the connections between the two IC chips become separated from the logic board. The solder simply breaks.
So you can either replace the entire logic board, or to resolder the IC chips back onto the existing, possibly warped, logic board.
My phone's a lemon. Can I sue Apple?
Yes. Lawyers in both the United States and Canada have filed class action lawsuits over the issue. However, neither suit has been "certified" yet, which would be the first step towards a day in court. Also, class action suits like this seldom succeed, and take years to complete if they are successful.
What has Apple said about the problem?
Apple has not publicly commented on the issue at all, although former Apple employees have said that the company appears to be aware based on internal recommendations for repairs.
Yes, 6s does. And Siri often interrupts me before I can get more than two words out. But it’s still an awesome phone.
Yes, I have it and so does another IPhone 6plus on my account.
I shouldn’t have to buy new phones, but this is just not good. Business call and the screen won’t let you answer! Ugh!
That's not the Touch Disease. The 6S is not susceptible to the Touch Disease. . . yet. It may in the future. All modern electronics use non-lead solder that can grow Tin Whiskers which is the real cause of this.
Touch Disease is only a problem for a few older model iPhone 6 models, not the 6S. You may have another problem.
Probably. Calluses might be a factor.
You can’t move the phone while answering. Hold it still, and you can answer.
My Son’s phone has it. He was getting around it for a long time by flexing the phone to make it work. He has since upgraded to the Galaxy Note 7, that he likes a lot. He is done with Apple. He was an Apple user since Iphone 4.
He took his phone to the Apple store and they messed with it. They gave it back to him and said if it still didn’t work then he needed to buy a new phone. They didn’t fix a thing. He was wanting to give it to his Mom. He found a tech online and he’s fixing to send it off for repair.
I had my phone seize up once and not respond to touch. I turned it off and on and it has worked ok since then.
That's not how Apple describes it:
Colloquially called "touch disease," the issue appears to stem from failure of the chips that translate the user's touch to information the iPhone can use. These controller chips are sometimes failing outright, and in other cases the microscopic solder joints connecting each chip to the motherboard are breaking, causing the progressive failures.
My ex-wife developed touch disease.
Apple has not described it at all. That's a blog.
I've talked to the techs at one of the largest Apple Authorized repair depots in Northern California and they have not even had a single one come through it's so rare. However, they have been talking to people who have micro-examined specimens that have developed the symptoms and each and every one of them has shown Tin or Zinc Whiskers growing from a solder pad and touching another Tin or Zinc Whisker growing from another solder pad. When they touch, they short out. A slight bend in the phone will break the short, allowing the phone to work for a while.
In fact, when I tracked things down, I found that even the company who made the claim said they were getting "a few dozen a month with the problem sent to us to fix." That's out of 250 MILLION of the iPhone 6 and 6 plus produced. Dozens a month is not a huge problem.
Out of their press release to generate business, this whole "iPhone Touch Disease" meme was built. You may have the problem. It does exist and more will come because the government forced the electronics industry to use a new mixture of solder that did not have lead in it. Lead inhibited the growth of the Zinc and Tin whiskers. They will still grow, but at a much slower rate and not until years later.
Choice is touch disease or fireball with today’s phones.
I would like a phone that I can clearly hear the caller and gets great reception. Anyone know of one?
Apple is aware of iPhone 6 ‘touch disease,’ but refuses to discuss it
The iPhone 6’s so-called ‘touch disease‘ is a well-known issue within Apple — the company simply doesn’t want to discuss it. That’s according to Apple store employees, who claim that they’ve been informed by both their own supervisors and the company’s internal repair tracking system to be aware of the problem, which can affect both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but is much more common on the latter.
The new report comes courtesy of Motherboard, which helped break the initial story. The problem is related to the iPhone 6’s flexibility and a decision Apple made to remove the underfill from between the touch ICs, which control the touchscreen’s function, and the grid of solder joints that connect these chips to their motherboard. Typically underfill is used to strengthen the connection between the chips and the board, and to ensure that the solder won’t crack. Combine a more flexible device with the lack of underfill, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are not currently believed to suffer from this problem.
According to the Apple employees, Apple’s backend system is now designed to immediately lock out repair options for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and to inform customers that their only way forward is to pay a $329 replacement fee if the customer is out of warranty. At first, early phones with a problem allowed for a display replacement under warranty, but this is no longer the case. Apple no longer even allows for a screen replacement in the company’s internal system, suggesting the company knows the problem is in the logic board.
Apple’s official response? Nothing at all. The company has refused to acknowledge or even confirm the issue, despite the fact that unofficial research indicates this is a problem that affects a high percentage of iPhone 6 Plus devices. The standard iPhone 6 is much less likely to have a problem, but it’s not issue-free. And there have been reports of devices failing that have been kept in a hard case for their entire operating lives. At least one of the employees Motherboard spoke to informed them they were quitting the company partly because they were tired of telling iPhone 6 Plus owners they had to pay out $329 for a replacement. Touch disease can be repaired by swapping out the ICs themselves, and some repair shops will fix broken devices for around $200 — less expensive than a full iPhone 6 Plus, but still far too much money for a problem Apple should’ve anticipated. Removing the underfill from a chip is extremely unusual; it’s designed to be used for a reason.
This kind of attitude might’ve been more permissible when smartphones aged quickly and a two-year-old device was begging for the garbage bin. Today, they’re likely to last a good deal longer. The iPhone 3G I bought in 2009 wasn’t very useful by early 2012. My iPhone 5c, in contrast, has aged much more gracefully. As smartphones have become more capable, they’re also aging more slowly (apart from the typical lithium-ion battery degradation, which still sucks). Plus, with the major American wireless carriers, now you can “pay off” the phone and then enjoy a lower monthly bill, something that wasn’t nearly as easy to pull off several years ago — so the incentive to hold onto a perfectly serviceable device is even stronger than it used to be.
Apple is already facing a class-action suit for its touch disease issues. But the company seems to think it can stonewall, wave the iPhone 7, and convert customers without any damage to its brand or name. This behavior is ridiculous, given the the entire problem is Apple’s fault to start with.
I’m a Mac guy and have had Apple phones for years, but intentionally stay behind the curve to keep the plan cost down. Currently have two 5s phones on the plan, they have Siri, they do what we need. No problems with touch. Only problem I’ve experienced at all is an occasionally mixed up screen when viewing the internet and rotating to or from landscape. It always resolves quickly without my having to do anything else, so I haven’t bothered to do anything about it.
I've been following this issue since it was first announced and I see nothing new. No further expansion in the numbers of iPhones supposedly being struck down. This latest article is merely a re-hash of the original article from August. Nothing new. There is no increase in the numbers on the help forums, no developments beyond the ones reported in August. I haven't had a chance to call Albert, the head tech at the Apple Authorized Repair Service to see if they've seen any yet since this latest incarnation of the "Touch Disease" article has appeared, but I think I will.
Back in August, the largest forum I found had 700 or so posts. . . with most of the comments being responses offering suggestions to the ones who were questioning what had happened to their phones, not others piping in with "me too" comments you usually see when a serious problem is occurring. My estimate was probably under 100 with the problem at most on that Apple forum. . . and that was at the height of the interest.
Looking across the country at numbers, and analyzing what I found, I estimated that fewer than 1500 per month were being seen at all repair locations. . . out of 250,000,000 iPhone 6 and 6S in the wild. . . for this type of problem from what ever cause.
There are some being affected by this, you and your son may be among them. . . but there is nothing new to indicate there is a huge problem. Even those trying to get a class action lawsuit going have not gotten enough participants joining them to get certified because there simply are not enough being affected by the problem.
The issue seems to raise its head every so often as a blogger resurrects the article as this one was by to get page clicks or when a competitor is releasing another Android phone. This time, I suspect it has to do with the upcoming release of the Google Pixel XL phone.
It seems Firefox doesn't trust nepp.nasa.gov, due to Firefox's lack of a certain root certificate, namely Federal Common Policy CA. This is apparently the subject of Mozilla Bug #478418, which has been festering since 2009 and is way tl;dr.
Here are your photos, sprung from NASA security:
Tin Whisker growing between contacts
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