7 Days of Apple Silence and Touch Disease Isn’t Going Away

Apple Insider’s Mike Wuerthele released some compelling research last week examining the prevalence of what we’ve so lovingly called Touch Disease. Their analysis covers six days of service data—before and after the Touch Disease headlines—from four highly-trafficked Apple stores. The results? Based on the numbers, Apple’s techs were seeing a significant number of Touch Disease stricken iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses before the story broke. In fact, Mike Wuerthele reported that the Touch Disease problem “eclips[ed] all other individual issues dealt with by retail personnel on a day-to-day basis.” After the increased media attention, Apple stores saw an understandable surge of reports—because users recognized the problems they were experiencing with their phones, and they finally had a name for the issue.

“It’s about time that the Apple press got a whiff of the problem,” one Apple Genius told Apple Insider.

Before and after

In the days before we released our report, Apple Insider’s research indicates that about 8.5% of iPhone 6 customers and 27.5% of iPhone 6 Plus customers brought in phones with Touch Disease. After our report, stores diagnosed 11.7% of iPhone 6 issues and 37.4% of iPhone 6 Plus issues as Touch Disease. You read that right. Almost 40% of iPhone 6 Plus devices that came in for repair were Touch Diseased. Sounds like a real outbreak. In total, after our initial report about 22% of iPhone service traffic was related to Touch Disease. (Mega props to Apple Insider for data to back up the claims of independent repair professionals!)

Well, this is alarming

Apple Genius staffers told Apple Insider that Apple has known about Touch Disease for quite some time, though staffers were instructed to refer to the issue as “flickering.” Staffers frequently offered replacement units to customers. Except Apple Insider’s source said that the replacement units very often demonstrated symptoms of Touch Disease right out of the box. “I’m getting tired of pulling service stock out of the box, and seeing the exact same problem that the customer has on the replacement before I leave backstage,” an Apple employee told Apple Insider.

While Apple doesn’t offer a fix for this issue, the independent repair community has been repairing these phones for several months now. And Apple could probably learn a thing or two from the techniques the repair pros have pioneered in the last year. Since Apple can’t actually do these repairs in-house, wouldn’t it be great if they supported the third-party repair shops who can? We’ve said it before, and we’ll continue to say it: but we think it would be really neat if Apple made their proprietary board-level-schematics available. So even more pros could fix this problem.

iPhone 6 Touch IC controller without touch disease
Touch IC Controller chips in the iPhone 6.

So what’s next?

It only took a few days after we launched our report before a nationwide class action lawsuit was filed. The complaint, lodged by California law firm McCuneWright, LLP, asks Apple to repair, recall, and/or replace all affected iPhones and to extend the warranties of those devices for a reasonable period of time. Apple is being accused of violating California consumer protection laws through fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, and for violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

The court filing reads:

Apple has long been aware of the defective iPhones. Yet, notwithstanding its longstanding knowledge of this design defect, Apple routinely has refused to repair the iPhones without charge when the defect manifests. Many other iPhone owners have communicated with Apple’s employees and agents to request that Apple remedy and/or address the Touchscreen Defect and/or resultant damage at no expense. Apple has failed and/or refused to do so.

As a result of Apple’s unfair, deceptive and/or fraudulent business practices, owners of the iPhones, including Plaintiffs, have suffered an ascertainable loss of money and/or property and/or value. The unfair and deceptive trade practices committed by Apple were conducted in a manner giving rise to substantial aggravating circumstances.”

Apple hasn’t released a comment.





Header image credit: STS Telecom