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The new, non-mechanical iPhone 7 home button seemed impressive when the phone was originally released. Unfortunately, a recent discovery has shown that replacing that home button results in completely inoperable equipment unless repaired at an Apple Store.

Your home button can be broken in a number of ways. If your phone is dropped on the floor or the screen cracks, the button can take serious damage. This was true, even when home buttons were mechanical.

However, even though the method of damage is still the same, the repair route is quite different. When it comes to repairing the home button on an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, consumers have little choice but to visit the nearest Apple outlet.

 According to Michael Oberdick of iOutlet.net, “On the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, you cannot replace the home button period. It has to be the original home button that shipped with that device unless you take it to Apple directly. Otherwise what will happen is, if you put a third party home button or an original home button from another direct Apple device, the home button is inoperable completely and it automatically pulls up assistive touch to be able to use the home button.”

This can be inconvenient for phone users with busy schedules and little time to slow down for a repair. Oberdick added that it can be difficult for users to reach an Apple store in a reasonable amount of time.

“If somebody comes into my Ohio store right now, it is about two hours one way to an Apple store and two and a half hours the other way to an Apple store. So you’re talking a full day to be able to get to an Apple store. Not only that, but most of those stores...probably don’t have an appointment available within 48 hours. You’re probably looking at two to five business days for an appointment to even be able to get your screen repair.”

According to Oberdick, this can have serious repercussions on the functionality and quality of iPhones everywhere – even when owners use a third party for repairs.

“What this means is, if somebody comes into my store, and their home button has damage...they’re gonna leave with a device that has no home button functionality whatsoever.”

As Oberdick pointed out, this was not the case with the iPhone 5. On that device, the home button can be replaced and remain functional without assistive touch. Even though the fingerprint scanner won’t work, the phone will still be reasonable operable. For phone users, this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable request. Few other phone manufacturers or designers require such extensive measures for such a minor problem.

Oberdick feels that Apple needs to improve the home button on a number of phones, including the iPhone 6. He, among others, believes that device manufacturers should encourage the right for consumers to repair their own devices (or have a third party company perform professional repairs).
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