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TrueDepth camera not working after water damage, any hope?

So, while I was at the Dutch quadrennial hackercamp MCH2022, I unfortunately dropped my phone in the water while swimming. Usually not such as big deal, well, except that I had gotten my battery replaced a month prior. I had it done at Apple officially, hoping that it would still be water proof (I knew very well that it might not have been, but they didn't tell me and I kind of expected the official repair to still retain waterproofness, but ah well). Well in any case, it did get water damaged.

Now that I'm home, I'm attempting to see if I can salvage the phone (replacement already bought for the time being and it was insured anyway), and I got it working nearly perfectly again (just need to clean the volume up button), just not Face ID (the TrueDepth camera).

I'm not scared of a challange, and my insurance already covered the damage anyway. My contract is ending late August, and September is new iPhone month as well. So I'm not really too concerned if I break it further, would be a shame obviously but not the end of the world. So I figured, is there any hope I can get FaceID to work again? It's still the original sensor anyway.

Fun fact: during the water damage, the battery got reported as non-original, but now that it's opened and I've cleaned the connectors etc. it's reporting as an original part again.

Edit: too few details, here's some more:

  • Settings -> Info -> Face ID "Problem" message
  • Front camera is working fine
  • Message "Face ID is not available" popped up
  • Then I made the stupid decision to reset the Face ID settings, leaving them grayed out. Performing a recovery restore now.

Edit 2: more testing, the dot projector isn't working.

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Okay, first things first. You say the TrueDepth camera isn't working and indicating that you have no Face ID. Lets elaborate on that. Exactly what kind of problem are you having? Do you have an image from the front camera? Does it say Face ID is not available? Are you getting the 'Move iPhone a Little Lower/Higher' message?


@dadibrokeit Sorry bout that, will include details in the main post.


@dadibrokeit Okay, after a quick restore and the ol' pointing my phone at my other phone, it seems like the IR is not working (that's the Flood Illuminator, isn't it?). edit; Some further testing, Portrtait mode doesn't seem to work on the front camera. The IR LED seems to light up fine. I probably tested it wrong earlier. Edit 2: aha, the dot projector isn't working.


I'm a little confused. If the dot projector isn't showing signs of life, could this be related to a non-functioning flood illuminator?


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To help your diagnosis, check out the video on the following post (there are steps available, but they're rather light on actual information).

Troubleshooting iPhone X Face ID Not Working 'Move iPhone a Little Lower/Higher' - iFixit Repair Guide

Unfortunately, the dot projector seems to be one of those parts that are particularly susceptible to water damage and ultimately non-repairable. Well, at least not for us average joes. There is one guy, Phyrne, that seems to be associated with the rework company REWA that has fixed one, but man, it's way beyond what most of us can do. Check it out.

iPhone XS Max Face ID Not Working Fixed - Dot Projector Repair - iFixit Repair Guide

From what I've seen, the only part of the Face ID system that can actually be replaced is the front camera itself, which requires disassembling the front camera assembly. That, while difficult, seems to be doable by us mere mortals. There's an iPhone 11 Pro guide to doing that, but once the front camera assembly is out of the phone, the process should be the same for your 12 mini.

iPhone 11 Pro Front Camera Replacement Without Losing Face ID - iFixit Repair Guide

The only other thing I've seen that offers any hope in situations like this is that malfunctioning rear cameras can apparently affect Face ID, but since they're not tied to the camera they can be replaced without issue. It's unclear exactly what the connection is between the rear cameras and Face ID is, though.

Immagine iPhone X


Risoluzione errore Face ID "Muovi l'iPhone un poco in alto/basso" su iPhone X



Immagine iPhone XS Max


iPhone XS Max Face ID non funzionante Risolto - Riparazione del proiettore di punti



Immagine iPhone 11 Pro Front Camera Only


iPhone 11 Pro Front Camera Replacement Without Losing Face ID



40 minutes

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The first link mentions the flashing of the dot projector in portrait mode, but wouldn't that be the flood illuminator? Can you actually check whether the dot projector does anything (by pointing another camera at it)?

da here is how it works and the diff bw them


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