iPhone replacement

About a month (and 250 lockups) ago, we bought an iPhone. The phone is amazing and I am not disappointed with Apple’s ability to push technology. But, the phone has not been without its problems. Unfortunately, since about the third day it has been very flaky.

It did not really crash, it just would not come out of suspend mode. I would have to do a hard reset on the phone. Sometimes I could go a couple of days without the problem, but more often than not it locked up once or twice a day. This went on for about 3 weeks. I kept trying to find a pattern to see if there was some software that might be causing the problem. I am very patient with technological stupidity. I prefer Linux. That should tell you how patient I am.

I finally broke down and called AppleCare. I decided that there had to be something wrong with the phone and it was not my fault. I had gone through all kinds of diagnostic hoops on my own. It was time for professional help.

The AppleCare rep was very patient and he stayed on the line with me for about 45 minutes through the process of resetting my phone as if it were factory new. I was happy to think that the problem might have been solved. It wasn’t. The next day it was acting the same.

Another week went by and the problem got worse. Two days in a row I had to hard reset the phone at least 15 times each day. I was in Indianapolis and near an Apple Store. This was a good excuse to finally get into an Apple Store.

I took the phone to the Genius Bar. The Genius listened to all my symptoms again. He seemed to be completely uninterested in the fact that I had already spoken with AppleCare. He went through his diagnostics and concluded that since it was not displaying the problem at the moment, he could not do anything about the problem. His solution was that if it did it again to call AppleCare and they could send me a new phone (so that I would not have the 2 hour round trip back to the store). But if the problem did not present itself to him, there was nothing he could do.

He did completely wipe the phone and we went through the same steps that I had done with AppleCare. I drove the hour back to the house a bit disappointed that the phone had not been replaced, but hopeful that the problem was really resolved.

It was not 4 hours later that the phone locked up again. I called AppleCare for the next step. I also went through all the explanation again as if I had not spoken with anyone about the problem. I told the man that I was a bit disappointed that they could not pull up my case and read the problem for themselves instead of have me explain it over and over.

He finally put me on hold while he spoke with a “product specialist.” He came back on the line to tell me that they could either send me a new phone or I could go back to the Apple Store and pick one up. He then told me that the phone should have been replaced when I was in the store, but the Genius either did not want to admit defeat or felt the problem really was software related. He never even looked up my previous conversation with AppleCare.

Today I made the drive to the store again to exchange the phone. I arrived about 30 minutes before my appointment (yes, you must have a reservation to get customer service in Apple Stores).

The Genius today asked me to explain the problem. AppleCare instructed me to tell him that if he wanted to know what the problem was that he had to read the case file himself, I had already done enough explaining. The Genius was supposed to just replace the phone. He took the case number and got right to work on replacing my phone.

The conclusion is that they did replace my phone. But it took too much explaining the same problem and one too many trips to the store.

I have only had this new phone for 10 hours, but so far it seems stable. We will see what the next few days bring.

Funny bits of conversation:

  • Genius: You should completely shut down and reboot your phone every week or two.
    The phone had never run more than 3 days before having to be hard reset.
  • AppleCare: Does the battery last a normal amount of time?
    Often when the phone would lock up it would drain the battery very fast. So I don’t have any idea what a “normal” amount of time is.

UPDATE: I was very disappointed and disgusted when my new phone crashed the same day I got it replaced. I knew at that point it had to be something that I was doing and not the phone.

I ran the phone for several days with just the basic setup and with it checking only 1 email address by way of manually downloading messages. I suspected that maybe the problem was that it tried to download a message and either not come out of sleep state properly, or go back into that mode correctly. It still did not solve the problem.

Then I turned off the auto-brightness and auto-lock (to suspend the phone). Those two seemed to help with the crashing, but it was a red herring.

The phone went for several days earlier this week without crashing. Then it crashed twice in just a couple of hours. I tried to figure out what I could possibly be doing differently that day as opposed to the days previous. When I finally figured it out I was amazed that it did not come to me before.

I was using a phone case that attached to my belt that I have used with my previous phone for 2.5 years. That case had never caused any problems. But, the way the flap is held closed on that case is with a magnet. The magnet was causing something in the iPhone to go terribly wrong. Because it has been much cooler, I have been wearing long sleeved shirts with pockets. I carried the phone in my pocket as opposed to on my belt.

I am now on day 4 since discovering the problem and have not had a single issue. I am very happy to discover the cause. I was quite irritated with my whole phone experience. Now I need to call Apple and let them know what the problem was. It may help someone else in the future.

I wrote a follow up to this post.