A friend directed me to an interesting piece on iFixit.org concerning a possible design flaw with the iPhone 6 and 6+. The article is long and involved, but in a nutshell, the problem is Apple didn’t do the best job of securing its touchscreen controller chips to its logic board, and as a result, the solders securing the chip to the board can crack when the phone flexes from being kept in a user’s back pocket.This leads to a gray bar appearing along the top of the screen, the touchscreen ceasing to respond, and the iPhone’s owner getting aggravated.
This design flaw is apparently hitting hundreds of people, judging from reports from Genius Bars and third-party stores alike. If it happens while the device is in warranty, of course, Apple will replace it. But Genius Bars aren’t set up to do the sort of board soldering necessary to repair the problem if it happens out of warranty, which means Apple will then just tell you to get a new phone. Third-party repair shops can actually fix the issue much less expensively, but naturally Apple won’t let its employees tell people that, and removes any mention of it from their message boards.
The iFixit article suggests that the chip’s poor soldering is a design flaw that might lead to a class-action lawsuit to get Apple to offer an extended warranty and fix phones that have the problem. But I’m not so sure. The point of a warranty is that if the phone breaks for any reason within the warranty, they fix it—but if it breaks for any reason outside the warranty, you’re out of luck. Whether it had a design flaw or not doesn’t change that.
Likewise, the article’s indignation that Apple won’t point people at independent repair shops seems a little disingenuous. The real world doesn’t work like Miracle on 34th Street. There’s no reason Apple should have to send people to someone else to fix a problem instead of selling them a whole new phone; they’re in business to make a profit. As always, caveat emptor.
In any event, if your iphone gives you a gray bar along the top of the screen and the touchscreen stops responding, now you know what the problem is and what to do about it if it’s outside warranty. It might also be a good idea not to carry that expensive piece of electronic equipment in a pocket where it can bend if you sit on it, or at least invest in a sturdy-enough case to keep that from happening.