I got a warranty replacement for my iPhone 4S on New Year’s Eve. My original iPhone 4S had been acting wonkier and wonkier over time, rebooting itself occasionally for no apparent reason, freezing during phone calls, emitting a buzzing/rattling noise in the earpiece speaker during calls and other nefarious actions. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a volume problem that started a few weeks ago. I noticed that the volume would change by itself when I wasn’t even touching the phone (and there was no case on it to put pressure on the buttons) and I could watch the on-screen volume indicator dwindle down to zero or up to the maximum level without any input from me.
The first time this happened, I shrugged it off since I was holding the phone and figured I might have bumped the volume button or something. But then it happened more and more often. I concluded that my iPhone was either possessed or broken. Or it was trying in a very roundabout way to say that I talked to myself too much and silence was really the way to go, you crazy lady, you.
Regardless of my thoughts about the cause of the problem, I had a little WTFBBQ moment, punctuated by several, if not all, of the words on George Carlin’s list, each time it happened. This had to stop.
Investigating a little further, I realized that I could reproduce the problem myself simply by wiggling the volume buttons a little. Even though I never fully pressed them, the volume indicator would appear on the screen and keep adjusting long after I stopped touching the buttons. This made me believe that it was a hardware issue and so I made a genius bar appointment late last week. I was starting to miss alerts since my iPhone made itself silent regularly without my knowledge.
(A little googling revealed this thread in the Apple Support forum but there were no panic.plst entries in my iPhone’s diagnostic logs.)
The Apple store was absolutely crazy when I went in and the Genius Bar was running a little behind. When a genius finally appeared to help me out, I described my problem and wiggled the volume buttons for him (why does that sound so wrong?) to reproduce at least one aspect of the problem. He took my iPhone from me and said he needed to take it into the back to “open it up” and see if he could fix it.
What? Open it up and fix it? Huh. I didn’t know they were doing repairs like this in the store but I shrugged and let him take it to the back room and troubleshoot away. I instantly felt naked without my iPhone as soon as he was out of sight.
I actually think he whisked it away more to inspect my iPhone to verify it hadn’t been dropped, abused, or doused in water before moving forward to find a resolution. He was gone for about 5 minutes before making his way through the crowded store back to me. He said he didn’t think he could fix it and was going to try to authorize a replacement for me. He asked me if I’d tried restoring it and I told a lie here – I said that I had but it hadn’t worked. He said that sometimes a DFU restore could help but since I was pretty sure this was a hardware problem, I didn’t want to drag out the troubleshooting procedure unnecessarily by endorsing that troubleshooting step. Plus, restoring an iPhone as a new device and getting it set up the way I need it, apps and all, is a bitch.
He left me again and went behind the genius bar to document my case and, I assume, to get authorization for the exchange. He came back a few minutes later and handed me a shiny new (most likely refurbished, of course) iPhone 4S. I was a little worried that he might not have given me a 64GB model and I wanted to double-check before I left the store. So, I started it up and went through the iCloud screens to restore from a back-up I’d made just before I’d left for the mall. That took a few minutes and I was finally able to go to the home screen to get to the Settings app to check the phone’s capacity. It was indeed a 64GB model. Phew. Paranoia effectively banished.
I have noticed that this iPhone feels a little tighter in that the buttons have less play than the first one. Also, that buzz/rattle noise during phone calls is gone, thank goodness and this one isn’t haunted or trying to send me not-so-subtle messages about my mental stability or lack thereof.
Of course, I realized after I left the store that I hadn’t prompted the genius to delete everything off my original iPhone 4S right then and there. It was passcode locked and I hadn’t told him what it was so I wasn’t too worried but I later went online to iCloud and used the Find My iPhone feature to prompt a remote wipe of it. Dang, that’s one handy service. Thanks, Apple!
I installed the second set of my SGP Steinheil EX Ultra Fine protector set earlier this week and my new iPhone is now just like my old one. Except not wonky and broken. Super sweet.