“Touch Disease” is an issue with the iPhone 6 Plus that causes the display to flicker — sometimes with a gray bar at the top — and occasionally, or permanently, become unresponsive. The issue made headlines in August when it seemed to pop up on a large number of devices at the same time (mine included), quickly becoming 22% of iPhone-related repairs at Apple Stores.
Except, until last week, Apple wasn’t repairing the phones at all. It was simply telling customers to pay $329 for a replacement, or buy a newer phone.
Now Apple has a repair program in place for the defect it refused to acknowledge for almost three months. It will cost iPhone 6 Plus owners $149 to cure Touch Disease, which itself is a slap in the face, as the issue is the result of a design flaw and is not the fault of the user. But Apple couldn’t admit that. Instead, the company said this.
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.
As I stated earlier, my iPhone 6 Plus was one of many suffering from Touch Disease. As soon as the issue started, I spoke to Apple Support and drove my phone from Harrisburg, PA to Lancaster. I showed up on time for my appointment, waited thirty minutes past (because that’s a thing that happens at Apple Stores, apparently) and finally interacted with an employee, who took all of twenty seconds to tell me I’d need to buy a replacement.
I got up and walked out.
Now, here’s why Apple is full of shit.
A store manager called me the next day and expressed regret at not being able to help me. I was genuinely surprised at how candid he was, saying that Apple Stores nationwide had been seeing an uptick in Touch Disease-related support interactions. But here’s what really got me — he recalled several instances where a customer chose to pay the $329 fee for a replacement phone, and the iPhone 6 Plus that came right out of the box had Touch Disease.
Brand new phone. Not dropped. Not “stressed” in any way. A phone that had been sitting in the back of the store somehow developed this same problem that Apple now blames on customers repeatedly dropping their phones.
The $149 repair cost, while much cheaper than the $329 replacement option, still isn’t good enough. The replacements or repairs need to be free, and Apple needs to take full responsibility for its manufacturing defect. The stance Apple is taking now is every bit as arrogant as putting out a coffee table book of product shots, and flies in the face of everything the company should stand for. All the environmental friendliness in the world can’t cover up the fact that this is really, really crappy.
Fix the phones, Apple. And stop charging people.