iPhone Touch Disease: What It Is and What To Do About It

iphone touch disease
image credit: Rick Gomez/Corbis/Getty Images

It sounds like a made-up illness or something from a movie, but iPhone Touch Disease is a real thing for some iPhone owners. If your iPhone is acting weirdly, or you think you've got this problem, this article will help you understand what's happening and what you can do to fix it.

What Devices Can Get iPhone Touch Disease?

As of this writing, the only model affected by iPhone Touch Disease is the iPhone 6 Plus, according to Apple.

There are some reports of the iPhone 6 being affected, but Apple hasn't yet said that that is true.

Are The Symptoms of iPhone Touch Disease?

There are two primary symptoms of the disease:

  1. The iPhone's multitouch screen is not responding properly. This could mean that taps on the screen aren't being recognized or that gestures like pinching and zooming aren't working.
  2. The iPhone's screen has a flickering gray bar across the top.

What Causes iPhone Touch Disease?

This one is up for debate. According to Apple, the Disease is caused by repeated dropping of the iPhone on hard surfaces and "then incurring further stress on the device" (whatever that means; Apple doesn't say). In Apple's understanding, it's basically the result of the user not taking care of their device.

On the other hand, iFixit—a site that focuses on repair and understanding of Apple products—says that the issue results from a design flaw in the iPhone and can occur on devices that haven't been dropped and on devices besides the iPhone 6 Plus.

 Instead, iFixit says that the problem has to do the soldering of two touchscreen controller chips built into the iPhone.

It's possible that both explanations are correct—that dropping the phone can loosen the soldering of the chips and that some undropped phones have manufacturing flaws—but there's no additional official word.

Is It Really a Disease?

No, of course not. And, for the record, we didn't name it "iPhone Touch Disease," either. Diseases are illnesses that can be spread from one infected party to another. That's not how iPhone Touch Disease works. As noted above, Touch Disease is caused by dropping the phone (according to Apple), not because your phone sneezed on another phone. That would be a virus, and iPhones really don't get viruses. And phones don't sneeze anyway.

"Disease" is just a catchy name someone gave the problem, in this case.

How Do You Fix iPhone Touch Disease?

In most cases, end users don't fix it. If you're really good with a soldering iron and don't mind taking a risk by opening your iPhone, you can do it, but I'd recommend against it.

The simplest fix is the one that Apple is offering: it will repair your phone so the problem doesn't continue. While you'll have to pay for the repair, it's a lot less than many other iPhone repairs cost. 

You could use a third-party repair shop to make the fix, but the shop will need to have workers skilled in microsoldering and if they wreck your iPhone, Apple probably won't help you fix it.

To learn more about Apple's repair program and to get your phone fixed, check out this page at Apple's site.

What Are the Requirements for Apple's Repair Program? 

In order to qualify for Apple's iPhone Touch Disease repair program, you must:

  • Have an iPhone 6 Plus
  • That's in working condition
  • That shows the symptoms listed earlier in the article
  • That does not have a cracked or broken screen.

The program only applies to devices within 5 years after initial sale. So, if you're reading this in, say, 2020 and have a 6 Plus that's got these problems, you're not covered.

Otherwise, if you meet all of those criteria, you likely qualify.

What Does Apple's Repair Program Cost?

Apple's program costs US$149. That may not seem great, but it's cheaper than buying a new iPhone for $500 or more, or what an out-of-warranty repair would cost (often $300 or more).

What Does Apple's Repair Consist Of?

While the program supposedly repairs affected phones, there are some reports that indicate that Apple is actually replacing them with refurbished phones.

What Are Your Next Steps?

If you think your phone has the Touch Disease, visit the Apple website linked to above and set up an appointment to get your phone inspected.

Before taking your phone in, be sure to thoroughly back up all the data on your device. That way, if you do have to get the phone repaired or replaced, there's less chance of losing your important data. You'll also be able to restore that backup onto your repaired phone.