Apple Loop: New iPhone Problems, MacBook Security Concerns, iPhone Sales Force Risky Decisions
Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes faulty iPhone screens, Apple ID locking out customers, poor iPhone sales, a lot of glue holding the iPad Pro together, security concerns in the new Mac machines, and where are the alternative USB-C to lightning cables?
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
New iPhones Face Faulty Screen Problems
Apple has warned customers of the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR handsets that they may become unresponsive to touch, or register phantom touches on the screen. While free repairs are being offered, to suffer a significant hardware error not long after release is not the level of quality that many would expect to come out of Cupertino. Gordon Kelly has the details:
Taking to its official website, Apple has warned customers iPhone X models “may experience touch issues due to a component that might fail on the display module”. Apple says this means “The display, or part of the display, does not respond or responds intermittently to touch” and potentially “The display reacts even though it was not touched”.
Curiously, Apple has excluded its usual line which states only a “small percentage” of devices are affected. This is a term the company has used liberally enough in the past to include the infamous (and ongoing) MacBook Butterfly keyboard debacle.
Apple Support Confirms Apple ID Lockouts
Earlier this week, Apple Support’s account on Twitter confirmed that iOS is locking users out of their hardware by disabling their Apple ID accounts.
Citing multiple reports across Reddit and Twitter, MacRumors says users are being told they can no longer use their devices “for security reasons”. In response, @AppleSupport is recognising the issue and guiding users to the company’s Support Communities page which tells users how to restore access when Apple IDs are locked and disabled.
Curiously, despite this wave of lockouts, Apple’s System Status page has not indicated any problems with Apple ID.
The question remains as to ‘why’ Apple is taking this action. We’re awaiting Apple’s press team to explain what is going on. More here on Forbes.
iPhone Sales Not Meeting Expectations
This week has seen more evidence that sales of the 2018 iPhone family are not meeting Apple’s expectations. While the reduction of the number of production lines by 25 percent could arguably be expected after the initial interest at launch, the reduction of orders to suppliers is a better indication of the long-term trend. Vibhuti Sharma writes:
“Many suppliers have lowered numbers because of their unnamed ‘largest customer,’ which is Apple. Apple got cautious in their guidance and it’s hitting their suppliers,” Elazar Capital analyst Chaim Siegel said.
Lumentum [the main supplier of the Face ID technology] blamed the cut in numbers it gave originally just 12 days ago on a client that was “one of our largest… for laser diodes for 3D sensing”, which analysts said could only be Apple.
Screen maker Japan Display Inc (6740.T) cited lower smartphone demand in cutting its own outlook, while British chipmaker IQE Plc (IQE.L) also said it expects a material reduction in its financial performance in the current year.
More Glue In The New iPad Pro Teardown
With the changes to the MacBook Air helping Apple’s repair teams (while increasing the complexity for third-party repairers), the teardown team at iFixit has opened up the iPad Pro to find out if the same was true for the new tablet. There’s a lot of glue, but there are some promising signs for independent repairers:
Apple replaced last year’s Lightning port with a fully modular USB-C port—a huge win for repair. But four of the eight speakers are epoxied into the case, making them completely unreplaceable. And while the battery has repair-friendly stretch-release adhesive with twelve pull tabs, a final bit of tough conventional adhesive stymies what should be an easy battery replacement.
It’s obvious that Apple is trying to change, but it looks like the voice on the other shoulder was a little louder than the repairability angel this time around. That said, this late 2018 batch of products has surprised us, and we are cautiously optimistic that they just might be starting to care about the insides of their devices as much as the outsides again.
Apple Confirms Security Lockout In New Mac Machines
Tucked inside the new Mac machines is Apple’s T2 chip. While it allows for a number of new security options, as well as improved user interactions, it also allows Apple to control who could potentially repair a laptop or computer by not giving digital permission to boot up if it detects an unwanted component. Chance Miller reports:
…newer Macs require the software-check to function after certain components are repaired, including the logic board and Touch ID sensor. The company would not, however, offer a full list of components affected by this policy, nor would it confirm if this is a new policy, or one that has been in place since the iMac Pro was introduced last year.
With the rise of USB-C ports on Apple hardware, and a proliferation of portable chargers with USB-C output, where are all the USB-C to lightning cables? It feels like a fertile ground for third-party accessory manufacturers. Jon Gruber is curious:
Here’s a 9to5Mac story from 2015 where Anker was already showing off USB-C to Lightning cables for use with the then-new 12-inch MacBook. They still haven’t shipped.
What’s the deal here? Is there a technical issue? Or is Apple just spitefully keeping this market to itself? It really seems like a raw deal when you consider that Apple still doesn’t include a USB-C to Lightning cable with new iPhones.
I can’t think why a trillion-dollar company would want to corner the market on a key physical connection cable. More at Daring Fireball.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.