Apple Ignores Widespread iPhone 6 And 6 Plus Crippling Touch IC Defect Dating Back To Bendgate

It seems that every generation of iPhone ends up mired in some kind of controversy, and for the original iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it was "bendgate," the name associated with complaints of iPhones warping under normal use. While bendgate was blown out of proportion, there's another design issue with the same generation iPhone that's perhaps a bit more serious, one that's causing displays to stop working correctly.

The teardown specialists at iFixIt conducted an investigation into the issue of ailing touchscreens and found that online repair shops keep themselves busy addressing a common point of failure among iPhone 6 and especially iPhone 6 Plus models. In many instances, repair techs said the issue would manifest in the form of a flickering gray bar at the top of the display along with wonky touch functionality or an unresponsive display altogether.

iPhone 6 Plus

One of the repair shops interviewed claims to see up to 100 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models a month that don't respond correctly to touch inputs. Another shop said an increasing number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models show up each month with the same gray flickering bar, and that most of the shop's time is spent fixing that single issue.

"This issue is widespread enough that I feel like almost every iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus has a touch of it (no pun intended) and are like ticking bombs just waiting to act up," says Jason Villmer, owner of STS Telecom, a board repair shop in Missouri.

Update 10:37AM: Our own internal source repair shop owner notes this issue could affect "potentially tens of thousands of phones. If you have a bent iPhone 6 or 6 plus it is extremely likely you will be effected eventually." He also went on to note that some 25% of the total phone repairs he did were due to this issue and "...that number will increase dramatically as time goes on and phones bend more. 99% of the phones I repaired were bent significantly, as in, needed to be straightened to repair correctly. The touch IC problem has serious potential and was much more prevalent on the iPhone 6 Plus."

This source went on to note that he was in fact the very close to the original "bendgate" issue when it first reared its ugly head and was called upon to confirm and diagnose required repairs related to it. 

You can also find pages of complaints about the issue on Apple's support forum. Many users are frustrated that Apple isn't owning up to this being a design defect, though there's evidence to support that it might be.

Simply replacing the touchscreen doesn't fix the issue; the flickering gray bar eventually returns. According to repair shops, that's because the problem isn't the display, but the two Touch IC chips inside affected iPhone models, chips that sit on the logic board inside the phone. In some cases it seems the solder balls that connect the Touch IC chips to the logic board crack and lose contact with the board. In such cases, putting pressure on the display can temporarily fix the problem.

Repair professionals also point out that there's no "underfill" beneath the Touch IC chips to help keep the solder balls secure. On top of that, Apple replaced a rigid, metal EMI shield used to cover the Touch IC chips in prior generation iPhone models with a pliable sticker.

The problem doesn't manifest in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus because Apple moved the Touch IC chips off the logic board and onto the display assembly where they're less likely to be affected by bending and flexing.

Have you experienced a similar issue with your iPhone? If so, we'd like to hear about it—post your story in our comments section below.