After our recent battery swap experiment, where a genuine OEM Apple battery was giving us a “Service” message in the settings, we wanted to see what else Apple was locking down by swapping other genuine Apple parts on the new iPhones, like displays, cameras, and more. Below are our findings for each of the three new devices.
Note that we didn’t test all of the various parts combinations that exist and only focused on the most important and critical parts. We’ll keep testing other combinations and let you know if we make any shocking discoveries.
Let’s start with the batteries. In our iPhone XS test unit, swapping genuine Apple batteries hit us with that “Service” message in both the iOS 13 beta and the latest version of iOS 12. Oddly enough, we’re not getting that message on any of our iPhone 11 units (including the Pro and Pro Max).
However, when trying this while running the iOS 13.1 beta, the dreaded “Service” warning does reappear. We’re not sure why Apple is leaving this out of iOS 13.0, but it looks like this “feature” is on the way in the next update.
One interesting note: though the Pro and Pro Max batteries are different sizes, their connectors are the same. But neither phone boots with the other’s battery.
Displays, Front Cameras, and Face ID
As we saw with last year’s iPhone XS and the previous year’s iPhone X, swapping displays between two iPhone 11 units (vanilla, Pro, and Pro Max) disables True Tone and Face ID. Both the flood illuminator (the infrared light that shines on your face) and the front camera/Face ID assembly are paired to the logic board. So when swapping displays, we had to take out the Face ID/front camera assemblies (which are interchangeable between the Pro and Pro Max), as well as the earpiece speaker assembly (since that’s where the flood illuminator is located) and keep them with their original iPhone units.
The front-facing camera works just fine, but Face ID won’t work in a foreign iPhone. This is unfortunate, because the front-facing camera and the Face ID module is all one single part. So if the front camera were to break and need a replacement, you’d have to take it to Apple if you wanted to keep Face ID—you’d only be able to replace the camera yourself if you were willing to give up that feature.
Luckily, swapping the rear cameras didn’t result in any kind of lock, which means they’re not paired to the logic board. Obviously, an iPhone 11 camera module won’t fit in an iPhone 11 Pro, but the Pro and Pro Max camera modules are identical and can be swapped.
We already knew the displays, Face ID, and batteries are paired to the logic board in some fashion, so swapping logic boards between two identical iPhone 11 units yielded unsurprising results.
The phones still worked just fine, but as expected, True Tone doesn’t work, nor does Face ID. And we get that battery “Service” warning on iOS 13.1.
The iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max logic boards are exactly the same dimensions, with all the connectors located in the same places. The two logic boards, unfortunately, are not interchangeable. This was the result of that swap test:
So there you have it. Hopefully this helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t work when you eventually need to replace a part in the future.