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Thousands of people with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models are reporting problems with their touch screens and finding them less and less responsive to the touch of their finger.
How serious is the problem? We surveyed the Downtown lunch crowd late last week and found people everywhere saying they have been noticing touch issues on their phone, in particular on the 6 and 6 Plus.
Elizabeth Jackson, having lunch with her husband, said her iPhone 6 Plus is becoming more and more frustrating to use. "There's sometimes when it won't respond when I go to text or open an app. It takes a while to open up," she said.
Brianna Booker's iPhone 6 Plus was in even worse shape recently. She recalls seeing a light gray band at the top of the phone, at which point it stopped responding,
"I wasn't able to swipe. I had notifications coming in, but I wasn't able to answer any text messages or phone calls" she said.
Problem so Common it Gets a Name
The issue started appearing about six months ago, but as the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus now come up on the two-year mark, they are starting to fail more and more. So many owners are reporting this problem it now has a name: "iPhone touch disease."
AppleInsider.com says Apple Store employees say it has just recently become the No. 1 problem with phones coming back into their stores.
Repair shops say many people think it's just a problem with their glass touch screen, so they will bring it to a repair kiosk and ask them to replace the screen. Unfortunately, that doesn't fix the underlying problem.
Joel Theisler is the manager of a UBreakIFix.com shop, a popular cell phone repair franchise.
"It's not a screen replacement issue," Theisler said. "You can replace screens all day. It may seem like it's fixing it for a day or too, but it really has nothing to do with it."
Theisler, who now sees four or five phones a week with this problem, says the issue appears to be that the touch panel (which sits under the glass) is breaking away from the electronics underneath.
"The touch IC chip on the motherboard is essentially separating from the motherboard, which is causing the loss of touch," he explained.
A telltale sign of the problem is a light gray bar appearing occasionally at the top of the screen.
He says the touch chip needs to re-soldered to the board or replaced entirely. His shop charges about $150 for the procedure.
What's Causing it?
Apple is not commenting on the problem.
But Theisler and many iPhone experts believe it may have to do with the bendability of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which are much thinner than the old iPhone 5 and 5S. They say as the phone flexes over time, the panels start to separate inside.
The 6S and 6S Plus are a year newer, so fewer problems have been reported.
So what can you do if your phone starts losing its touch sensitivity? Experts say:
If it is under warranty, bring it to the Apple store or your provider (AT&T, Verizon, for instance).
Ask if you can get a free repair or a replacement phone.
If the warranty has expired, visit a reputable phone repair shop that is aware of the issue and knows how to repair it. A simple glass swap will not fix the issue.
Brianna Booker's 6 Plus was still under warranty, so her provider swapped her into a new phone at no charge. "I guess I got lucky," she said.
Others, though, are now forced to decide between a pricey repair and upgrading to a new phone, and they are upset that the phone that cost so much is now failing at the two-year mark.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed
A California law firm, McCune Wright, has just filed a Class Action suit against Apple because of this issue.
If you would like to put your name on their list of potential plaintiffs, to share in any settlement, visit their webpage or click here.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.