When Apple added the fingerprint reader to the iPhone 5s, it was impossible for anyone other than a certified technician to replace the fingerprint reader. That makes sense – fake readers may circumvent security. However, over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to replace more and more components.
During the disassembly and testing of the iPhone 12, iFixit discovered that taking the camera out and replacing it with the same module on another phone caused problems. And it’s not just the error reports you get when you swap screens (“I can’t confirm that this iPhone has a genuine Apple display”).
No, this looks like a bug. The camera works, but there are always problems. Occasionally it hangs, some camera modes stop working, and the ultra-wide camera refuses to turn on in photo mode. Curiously, it works fine for video.
Here is a demonstration:
Even stranger, it’s okay to follow the same steps on the iPhone 12 Pro. The new modules all work fine, wide, ultra-wide, telecamera, and all camera modes.
iFixit explains that Apple has changed the training manual. Starting with iPhone 12 series, you need to use the system configuration tool to change the display and camera. This tool connects to Apple’s servers before reprogramming the new components to work properly.
Previously (from the XR / XS generation) this was only needed when replacing the battery. Security component changes – Touch ID or Face ID (embedded in the display and cannot be changed individually) – are completely different cans of beans that require reprogramming the security enclave.
Hugh Jeffreys, who runs one of the biggest tech repair channels on YouTube, ran into the same problem as you can see in the video below. The bit about the camera starts at 8:50, but you can see the entire video. This is a detailed assessment of the repairability (or lack of it) of the iPhone 12.