File Image: iPhone 8

INTERNATIONAL - The iOS 11.3 update breaks £700-plus (R11 990,43) iPhone 8 devices that have not had their screens repaired by Apple, sources suggest.

Screens repaired by a third-party do not have touchscreen functionality, rendering the whole device essentially useless. Sources say it is the latest example of the company's battle against people going to independent repair shops to get their devices fixed. Released at the end of March, the software update kills touch functionality on devices that worked fine before the update.

'This has caused my company over 2,000 re-shipments,' Aakshay Kripalani, chief executive of Georgia-based repair shop Injured Gadgets told Motherboard. 

'Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing third-party repair.' For many people, getting a device fixed by a third party is cheaper than getting it done with Apple.

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The company charges £156.44 (R 2 680,76) to repair the screen of an iPhone 6S, 7 or 8.Every phone is powered by a small microchip which is causing the issue.

Sources suggest third-party screen suppliers have already worked out a way to fix the issue. However, it means re-opening the phone and upgrading the chip.

It is not known if Apple will release a new software update to fix the screens. 

'It's very easy to go down the rabbit hole of thinking that Apple is trying to make it JUST inconvenient enough to even consider third-party repair a reliable option,' said Kev Notton, founder of San Diego-based diagnosis tool RepairMapr.

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'That terrifies me, because they're the manufacturer. Ultimately, they hold all the cards.'

MailOnline has contacted Apple for comment. This is not the only time the company has impaired functionality on certain devices. Last year, a similar iOS update killed touch functionality on the iPhone 7 devices repaired by a third-party.

However, a week later the company resolved the issue. In 2016 iPhone users around the world reported that their handsets had been rendered useless due to an 'Error 53' code.

It only appeared on handsets repaired by non-Apple engineers and effectively 'bricked' them, making them unusable. Apple apologised and issued a fix for the broken handsets amid claims the move could have been be illegal and some customers were planning to launch a lawsuit to address their concerns.

At least one US law firm announced its intention to bring a class action against Apple on behalf of iPhone owners whose handsets were crippled. 

'We apologise for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers', a spokesperson from the firm said.

Additionally, Business Report has contacted iPhone repair stores such as WeFix and Apple Doctor. 

Both stores have mentioned that they are not directly affiliated with Apple but that so far, they have not received any complaints about the matter.

If users do experience any problems, they should take their device to be repaired at their dedicated service provider where they bought the device or Apple stores. 

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