AFAICT, the phone was temporarily incapacitated until a trusted sensor was detected, and the issue is that no trusted sensor was ever installed, so the phone was useless.
Where do you read that the the phone can be repaired? The article says multiple times that it couldn't be repaired, e.g., "When pressed for more information about the error, few, if any Apple employees could offer an explanation. There was no part they would replace, no software fix, and no way to access the phone’s memory. The fix was a new iPhone."
Temporary incapacitating is at least not totally evil, but that's not what the article is saying. It could be that the bricking was temporary, but if the Apple folks refuse to fix it, then it's effectively bricked.
If your only experience with upgrades that make things worse is with Apple, then you have used pretty much nothing but Apple stuff, and have no basis for comparison. Lots of upgrades from all over have made things worse on my systems over the decades, so I check out each incoming upgrade to see if I really want it. On my iPhones, when I decide not to install an update, I touch the spot on the nag screen that says I'll never upgrade, and everything is fine after that.
No, Apples SW upgrades aren't the only ones that degrade systems. However, at least for my systems, the Windows and Linux upgrades aren't even close to the damage that the iOS upgrades have done to the iPad.