After months of publicity from fuming users, Apple finally admits that “touch disease” actually exists.
Touch disease often first shows up as a flickering grey bar at the top of the iPhone 6/6 plus screens. Over time it gets worse until the device's touch screen becomes unusable.
However, afflicted iPhone users may want to hold off celebrating. Apple says the issue is due to misuse by users, rather than due to faulty design.
Apple will now repair affected phones but are charging US$149 (NZ$213) to do the job. Apple have branded this the “Multi-Touch Repair Program”.
Adding insult to injury, Apple says that "touch disease" is not a design flaw, but is the result of iPhones "being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress".
I may be a tad naive, but aren’t smart phones supposed to be able to handle the odd drop?
Apples move is causing outrage amongst some Apple users who say the company is wrong; they say that that the issue is due to a design defect.
Whatever it is, a class action lawsuit is about to kick off in California. It accuses Apple of fraud and violating Californian consumer protection laws. The outcome of this legal action could determine if touch disease is due to misuse or bad design.
Should the court find the issue is design related, Apple could end up picking up the tab for repair costs. Coming off the back of the decision to remove earphone sockets on the iPhone 7, this could also see some iPhone users contemplating a move to Android.
Given Apples iPhone sales have been slow to flat for 3 straight quarters, the timing of this situation is bad news for the Cupertino based company.
The term touch disease issue was first coined by consumer site, ifixit.org. They've been following the issue for some time. They say that the problem of unresponsive iPhone touchscreens shouldn't just be applicable to devices that've been dropped.
They say that the problem is actually caused by design faults similar to those tied to “bendgate”. Thee Bendgate saga arose out of reports that the iPhone 6 plus devices were bending. ifixit are calling for Apple to extend warranties so defective iPhone hardware gets repaired for free.
Either way, It is good to see Apple finally acknowledging that the issue is real and it does exist. Although, the situation would be better if Apple were to do the right thing and take ownership of the issue.
Logic says that that Apples iPhone warranty should cover defects and issues that happen when using the iPhone in a way that it is intended. It is after all a mobile phone - that entails it gets used out of one’s pocket or purse. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that the phone might get dropped sometimes.