When Apple added a fingerprint reader to the iPhone 5, it was impossible for anyone other than an authorized technician to replace it. This makes some sense – a fake reader can avoid security. But over the years most parts have been difficult to replace.
During a teardown and testing of the iPhone 12, iFixit found that removing the camera and replacing it with a single module from another phone could cause problems. The only error report you get when you switch screens (“This iPhone can’t be verified to have a real Apple display”).
No, it looks like a bug. The camera works, but develops persistent issues – it hangs occasionally, some camera modes stop working and the ultraviolet camera refuses to turn on in photo mode. Oddly enough, it works well for videos.
Here is a demonstration:
Even more bizarre is the fact that doing the same procedure with the iPhone 12 Pro is almost non-existent – the new module works nicely, wide, with ultraviolet, tele-camera, all of these, as well as all camera modes.
IFixit explains that Apple has changed its training manuals. Starting with the iPhone 12 series, you need to use a system configuration tool to change the display and camera, which will connect to Apple servers before programming the new part to work properly.
Previously (starting with the XR / XS generation), this was only required when replacing batteries. Replacing security components – Touch ID or Face ID (which is embedded in the display and cannot be changed separately) – requires regramming a completely different container of beans and a security enclave.
Hugh Jeffries, who runs one of the largest tech repair channels on YouTube, encountered the problems you can see in the video below. The bit about the camera starts at 8:50, but you can watch the whole video, which is an in-depth assessment of the iPhone 12 repair (or lack thereof).