On July 27, 2016, Apple celebrated the sale of its one-billionth iPhone—but if you’ve experienced the “gray bar of death” or had your iPhone not respond no matter how hard you poke or swipe at the screen, you may not feel like celebrating.
Welcome to Touchgate.
Flickering bars and unresponsive screens are symptoms of Touch Disease, which has accounted for 11 percent of all Apple Store repairs according to AppleInsider. Touch Disease is found primarily in iPhone 6 Plus models, but iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s are not immune.
The defect was first spotted in August 2016 by online gadget repair specialist iFixIt; it starts with a flickering gray bar at the top of the screen and eventually results in the screen becoming unresponsive and, therefore, useless.
Touch Disease is related to the now-infamous “Bendgate,” which occurred almost as soon as the new iPhone 6 appeared on the market in 2014. Cases on the new phones were found to be extremely fragile, and anyone who carried their iPhone in a back pocket ended up with a curved phone and a screen problem. Although Apple changed the “bendy” cases to a sturdier type in later production, Touch Disease remains.
Underneath the iPhone screen is a logic board. Sitting down with the phone in your pocket, sliding the phone on its case, or dropping the phone can cause cracks in the solder that connects chips to the logic board. Once these chips become loose or dislodged, the screen no longer works and—you guessed it—Touch Disease occurs.
Consumers Fight Back
According to Reuters, a class-action lawsuit was filed in San Jose, CA, and in Delaware and Pennsylvania against Apple in late August, charging the tech giant of violating California’s consumer laws. To date, Apple has not acknowledged the issue with the devices nor responded to the lawsuit.
Is There a Cure?
Any way you choose to address the problem will cost you money. The only cure is replacement, which is cheaper under warranty, more expensive out of warranty, however a replacement may end up with the same problem. You can take your phone to a repair shop, but make sure it is licensed by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation; check the license online at www.bearhfti.ca.gov.