iOS 14.4 may warn you if your iPhone camera has been repaired with aftermarket components

Your iPhone may soon put up a warning if it detects that the camera has been repaired or replaced with aftermarket parts rather than with genuine Apple components.

UPDATE: This feature has been implemented in the public versions of the iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 software updates. Moreover, a new support document on the Apple website provides all the details you need to know.

MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered some rather interesting code in the second beta of iOS 14.4, which was made available to developers earlier in the week.

A warning about a non-genuine camera

He spotted the following message in the iOS 14.4 code strings:

Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera.

This is the first time that this message was implemented in iOS. While nothing is concrete until iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 are released publicly, it’s safe to assume that the message will be shown to the user should the operating system detect a non-genuine camera component.

MacRumors speculates:

The non-genuine camera message will likely direct users towards a future Apple support document emphasizing the importance of iPhone repairs being completed by authorized, trained technicians using genuine Apple parts, including Apple, Apple Authorized Service Providers and those part of Apple’s Independent Repair Provider Program.

And if this feature indeed becomes operational in the final public build, it will not be the first time that Apple has implemented such a warning.

What about iPhone batteries and displays?

As you probably know, Apple also displays a warning if a non-genuine display is installed in your iPhone 11 or later. And a similar warning appears for non-genuine iPhone batteries. A pop-up shows itself after an iPhone display or battery has been repaired or replaced with an aftermarket component rather than a genuine Apple part, as evidenced by the image below.

“Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple display”, reads the warning that appears as a notification in the About section within the Settings app on the device.

It doesn’t look good for independent repair

As for the upcoming camera warning, I have a feeling right-to-repair folks won’t like this, but it is what it is. Noticing that the camera becomes “entirely unreliable when swapped between iPhones,” repair experts over at iFixit last year discovered that genuine repairs performed by authorized technicians now require Apple’s proprietary System Configuration app.

How to chat live with Apple Support

The piece of software basically authorizes the serial number of a replacement part, like a display or a camera component. “Putting an authentication check on a simple camera swap poisons the ‌iPhone‌ repair and resale market,” iFixit commented. “With no obvious benefit for ‌iPhone‌ buyers, it reeks of greed. Or worse: planned obsolescence,” the site continued.

For completeness’s sake, we should point out that the exiting display warning does not impede your ability to use your iPhone in any way. And that fact alone gives us reasons to speculate that the same will probably be true for non-genuine camera repairs and replacements.