A report from a couple of days ago detailed that iPhone 8 units repaired with third-party displays stopped working post the iOS 11.3 update. The report also mentioned that iPhone X and iPhone 8 owner complained of the ambient light sensor on their phone not working post the display replacement.
Further expanding on that report, Engadget details that the issue is actually far more serious than that. Even if a third-party repair shop puts a genuine Apple replacement display on your iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, or iPhone X, the ambient light sensor on the device will stop working. A non-functional ambient light sensor means that the iPhone unit in question will not change the display brightness depending on the lighting conditions.
The issue is present on phones running iOS 11.1, iOS 11.2, and iOS 11.3 which points to this probable fail-safe mechanism being present in the phones and OS right from their launch. A bit of digging indicates that the light sensor is disabled during the bootup process.
There’s no clear reason as to why Apple is disabling the ambient light sensor of all the various other parts. A third-party repairer said that its possible Apple could be using this as a test-case scenario before it starts linking various other components to the logic board thereby allowing them to be disabled if an unauthorized repair is carried out.
This is not the first time that Apple has done something like this. Previously, the company essentially bricked all iPhones that were repaired at a third-party repair shop by showing Error 53. This led to a huge hue and cry from the affected consumers, with Apple facing a lot of backlash and criticism. Ultimately, the company had to apologize for the whole fiasco and roll out a software update to restore the phones back to their proper state.
The issue here is that Apple is forcing users to get their iPhones repaired from itself where they have to pay a significantly higher sum of money compared to a third-party repair shop. This goes against the Right to Repair bill which makes it mandatory for OEMs like Apple to share repair guides and sell repair parts and diagnostic tools directly to consumers. Despite Apple opposing the bill, eighteen U.S states have already introduced the bill.
It would have made sense if Apple was disabling the ambient light sensor on displays sourced from third-parties citing security reasons. However, here it is disabling the sensor on genuine replacement parts which shows that it is just being greedy and deterring users from carrying out in-house or third-party repairs on their iPhone.