In this post, the iPhone 7 is mentioned, but the information applies to the iPhone 7 Plus as well.
In previous versions of the iPhone, home button replacement was a simpler repair. The screen gets removed, a flex cable is disconnected, depending on the model, a shield is removed, and then the home button can be unscrewed and popped out. A replacement home button can then be installed and your phone is back to work. There were some earlier versions of iOS that locked phones with home button repairs done by a third party repair companies, displaying Error 53, but backlash forced Apple to eliminate this behavior in later updates. So let’s learn more about the iPhone 7 home button.
How is the iPhone 7 Home Button Different?
The home button has long been a part of the iPhone, since the first generation. It offered a quick escape option to get back to the home screen from wherever you may have navigated. Traditionally it was an actual physical button that had a click reaction when depressed. This physical motion was translated into an electronic signal which then traveled to the motherboard, letting it know it was time to leave the current app. In the hands of a professional, replacing these buttons was as simple as if they were buttons on your shirt. In the hands of a professional, replacing these buttons was as simple as sewing buttons on your shirt.
The iPhone 7 home button works in tandem with the logic board (Apple’s name for motherboards) and a software lock. So there’s not only hardware design involved with this component; it can be paired only with one specific logic board, as defined by unique coding. Additionally, the iPhone 7 home button is not truly a mechanical button at all. It is an indented fingerprint sensor which provides physical feedback via the Taptic Engine, Apple’s component for providing tactile sensations in the form of vibrations.
Starting with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the LG G6, and now the iPhone X, phone manufacturers will most likely continue to omit a physical home button to fit more screen within the dimensions of the phone.
What Happens When You Replace an iPhone 7 Home Button?
If you replace the iPhone 7 home button with an after-market replacement part or even a different OEM replacement, you will see a message after booting up, “The home button may need service.” After displaying this message, a temporary fix on-screen home button appears. You can navigate using this on-screen button, but after you’ve grown accustomed to using the actual button, it feels like a compromise. This Accessibility setting can be activated on any iPhone at any time by turning on AssistiveTouch.
Why Does Apple Make Home Button Repair Difficult?
There are two possible schools of thought about why Apple would make the home button unique to each phone. Since the button is software controlled, the software lock closes a security hole. Think of the software lock as another unique physical passcode. If your phone is stolen or lost, nobody would be able to pop a new home button in and bypass your Touch ID.
The other possibility is that Apple is tightening the scope of its proprietary components and tools to grab a larger share of the repair market. Apple makes all the money on iPhone 7 home button repairs, at the expense of third-party repair companies.
What Are Other Options for iPhone 7 Home Button Replacement?
If your iPhone 7 home button no longer works, it must be taken to an official Apple store. The repair technicians at this store will use the Calibration Machine, which is shrouded in secrecy. Without AppleCare+ or a warranty, the repair will cost $319 for an iPhone 7 and $349 for an iPhone 7 Plus.