Apple addresses ‘Touch Disease’ with reduced cost repair for iPhone 6 Plus

Many an iPhone 6 Plus has been struck down by the scourge known as “Touch Disease,” but Apple has not acknowledged the problem was systematic or widespread — until now. In what we have to imagine is as close to a mea culpa as Apple is likely to offer, iPhone 6 Plus devices exhibiting flickering displays and touchscreen issues are eligible for a reduced-price repair.

Apple is careful to note that this problem mainly appears “after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress,” though iFixit suggested that the problem could also be due to the phone’s infamous tendency to bend. Either way, some force must be exerted on the phone, resulting reliably in a critical touchscreen component being damaged or unseated — and that makes it, like it or not, at least partially a user-caused issue. Apple declining to call it a design flaw or manufacturing defect seems to be a point of pride on their part.

Phones with Touch Disease will be repaired for $149, and if you previously had it repaired or replaced for similar symptoms — which might have cost you upwards of $300 — Apple will reimburse you the difference.

iFixit pointed out in an email to TechCrunch that this price is about what third-party repairers have charged in the past to fix the issue, and considering refurbished phones are subject to the same problem, the 90-day warranty is rather short.

Notably, the program is only for the iPhone 6 Plus, and although a similar problem has been seen on the 6, we can probably trust Apple’s numbers and say this was primarily an issue with the Plus.

It certainly took long enough: It’s been more than two years since the 6 Plus was announced, and Apple never addressed the Touch Disease issue, despite it being quite common — and despite quietly reinforcing the next generation of iPhones to prevent the problem (the one they didn’t publicly acknowledge) from occurring again.

In fact, it was long enough that a lawsuit was filed alleging that Apple knew the problem existed and failed to provide adequate support to affected users. I contacted the law firm leading that suit to see if the repair program affects it in any way, and will update this post if I hear back.

Better late than never, though, and covering previous repairs is generous by Apple standards. Drop by an Apple store or authorized dealer, or talk to tech support to get your afflicted iPhone 6 Plus back in action.