Apple Launches iPhone 6 Plus 'Touch Disease' Repair Program

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The iPhone 6 Plus has a problem, and some say it's a design flaw. Apple's larger last generation smartphone can start displaying flashing gray bars at the top of the screen and become unresponsive to touch input. It took several months, but Apple finally decided to offer a repair program. The kicker being, it costs $149.

The fault has been dubbed "Touch Disease." As the iFixit video below explains, it happens because the touchscreen integrated circuit (IC) tasked with processing touchscreen input is detaching from the solder holding it to the logic board.

Even though the touchscreen IC hasn't changed much over different generations of iPhone, Apple made two key tweaks to the internal design of the iPhone 6 Plus which allowed Touch Disease to occur.

Firstly, Apple removed a metal shield sitting over the chips and board in previous iPhones, which results in a loss of strength. Secondly, it stopped underfilling the chip, which acts like a concrete and ensures the chip is very securely held in place over its lifetime. Add to that the fact an iPhone 6 Plus can bend during normal use, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Apple does not believe the fault lies with the touchscreen IC, though. On the Multi-Touch Repair Program for iPhone 6 Plus page the company states, "Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device."

By claiming this as the cause, Apple is placing the blame firmly on the user for dropping their phone repeatedly. It means in order to have Touch Disease fixed, Apple requires you to pay $149. If you've already paid to have Touch Disease fixed by Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, and it cost more than $149, Apple will arrange a reimbursement for the difference.

Apple's claim this isn't a design flaw, combined with a charge for the repair, will anger many experiencing Touch Disease knowing they have never dropped their iPhone, let alone multiple times. It also poses the question: Will Apple's repair fix the problem permanently? If no metal shield or underfill is being used, how can it?

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