MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A former Apple insider revealed one of its iPhones has a disease, but the company won't find a cure.
In a disguised interview with The Action News 5 Investigators, a former Apple Genius technician said the iPhone 6 Plus started exhibiting screen malfunctions last summer. "They were coming in where their displays were flickering," the technician said under condition of anonymity.
"The touch screen stopped responding," said Cordova's Sharon Masterson, as she demonstrated with her iPhone 6 Plus. She'd touch the screen, swipe the screen...nothing. "It's so aggravating."
The whistle-blowing technician said the non-responsiveness and flickering are happening in multiple iPhone 6 Plus models. "It is not the display that's causing it," the technician said. "It's the actual main logic board that the display attaches to. Somewhere in there is actually causing that display to flicker."
Computer repair trade blog Motherboard has coined the iPhone 6 Plus problem as the "touch disease." Motherboard explained -- and the Apple technician confirmed -- that the "touch IC" chips inside the phone, chips that convert finger touches and swipes into machine-readable phone functions, are losing their solder. They said the chips are detaching, losing their ability to detect touches on the display screens.
"It is a manufacturing defect," said Thomas Bledsoe, owner and chief technician of iRepear in Bartlett, Tennessee. Bledsoe said his shop receives three to four complaints a day about the iPhone 6 Plus "touch disease." "It has been an issue for a lot of customers," Bledsoe said. "I think the iPhone 6 Plus should be recalled under a certain criteria if it's functioning like that, not having the touch functionality."
When Masterson took her iPhone 6 Plus to Apple Saddle Creek, 2031 West Street in Germantown, Tennessee, she said the technicians acknowledged the problem. But since her phone was beyond its warranty and since she did not carry the Apple Care extended warranty, she said they would only offer to replace her display screen at the standard repair rate. "About $300 plus tax," she said.
"Again, it's not the display that's causing it," said the Apple whistle-blower. The technician also said Apple's standing order is to just replace the screen on a customer's iPhone 6 Plus if the customer has neither an active warranty nor Apple Care. "We would be replacing the displays, as per Apple, and we would have these customers coming back and back and back," the technician said. "It is an inherent defect. This has been happening since at least last summer."
Apple's media staff ignored three emails and one voicemail message left on its media hotline. "It's not what they call a recall program at the moment," the technician said.
"Other people were having this problem," Masterson said. "They did know what was wrong with (the iPhone 6 Plus), and they were just not telling the consumers."
Bledsoe recommended until Apple corporately acknowledges the problem and either recalls or extends the warranty on the iPhone 6 Plus, consumers should:
* CHECK YOUR WARRANTY. According to Apple's terms and conditions, the iPhone typically carries a one-year limited manufacturer's warranty.
* CHECK YOUR APPLE CARE. That's Apple's extended warranty plan. If you have it, you may be entitled to a full replacement of your iPhone 6 Plus.
* CHECK WITH YOUR PHONE SERVICE CARRIER. Your carrier may offer a replacement option.