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(Pocket-lint) - Apple's iPhone 6 Plus smartphones are suffering from a hardware malfunction, but there is a new solution available.

The company has launched a repair programme for the widely reported problem known as “touch disease". The malfunction renders the touchscreen useless and is visible as a thin grey line at the top the display. Apple claimed this flaw is caused by dropping the phone repeatedly. Here's everything you need to know about "touch disease" and how Apple's new repair programme works.

iPhone 6 Plus: What is 'touch disease'?

In August 2016, repair guide website iFixit published a blog post detailing what it and other repair companies described as a growing number of complaints about a touchscreen issue among iPhone 6 Plus and some iPhone 6 users. The issue seemed to result in unresponsive iPhone screens and is often companied by a thin gray flickering line along the top of the display (see above).

iFixit claimed at the time that the hardware malfunction, which it dubbed "touch disease", was brought to Apple’s attention through its own support forums online and via retail stores.

iPhone 6 Plus: What causes 'touch disease'?

While iFixit originally claimed the problem wasn’t the screen but rather the two touchscreen controller chips, or Touch IC chips, on the logic board inside the phone, Apple has confirmed the flaw - which it won't call "touch disease" - is caused by dropping the phone repeatedly. The company said it will not cover the cost of a repair if you seek one, but it has launched a "Multi-Touch Repair Programme" for affected users.

Here's what Apple specifically announced:

"Apple has determined that some iPhone 6 Plus devices may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device. If your iPhone 6 Plus is exhibiting the symptoms noted above, is in working order, and the screen is not cracked or broken, Apple will repair your device."

iPhone 6 Plus: How much does a repair cost?

If your iPhone 6 Plus seems to have the "touch disease" flaw, and is in working order, Apple said it will repair your device for $149.

In other words, the company will not cover the cost of a repair whatsoever. There's no word on affected iPhone 6 phones. Naturally, this is not sitting too well with many iPhone owners who have recently filed class action lawsuits against Apple over the issue.

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iPhone 6 Plus: What if you already paid for a repair?

Apple said those who have already paid for a service repair are eligible for reimbursement equal to the difference between the original service repair cost and the new $149 programme price. It has begun contacting iPhone 6 Plus customers who went through an Apple retail store or Apple technical support in the past for a repair related to the issue and ultimately paid for a fix.

iPhone 6 Plus: How does the repair programme work?

Apple is giving iPhone 6 Plus users three service options: contact an Apple authorized service provider, go to an Apple retail store, or contact Apple technical support. Apple said your iPhone will be examined prior to any service to verify that it's eligible for the programme and in working order.

Go to Apple's repair programme webpage for more details.

Writing by Elyse Betters. Originally published on 19 November 2016.