Is Your iPhone 5 Screen Loose?

About two weeks ago I notice that my iPhone 5 screen is a bit loose on its left half. Then last week it got worse such that the top-left corner started popping up and I could slightly see the screen’s backlight on the side.
Browsing the web pointed out that this could be a battery bulging issue. A poster in Apple’s user forums said that he encounter this and got a replacement from Apple. He posted pictures showing a similar condition as mine.

My iPhone 5 was almost a year IPhone screen pop outout of warranty. Yeah, I didn’t purchase AppleCare since they usually have good hardware and I had an old iPhone 4 which seems to be still functional up to this day (that unit was also two years old when I gave it to my dad in late 2012).

But then again Apple have a battery replacement program that’s not too expensive. It’s $80 or about S$ 100 — roughly the same amount that I spent for my two Spigen shock-proof iPhone bumper & screen protector combo (the old bumper had a tear in its inner band, so I bought a new one before it completely disassembles).

So last Friday I went to an Authorized Apple service center to report this problem. At the very least I probably can make use of the battery replacement program. There are only two service centers in Singapore that handles iPhones, one in Wheelock Place and the other is in Plaza Singapura. I went to the latter since the other one is a considerable walking distance from the underground train station and it’s probably going to be near closing time when I get there.

IPhone service centers in Singapore

At the repair center I talked to the service representative and told her that my screen is popping out and could have a battery bulging issue. She then asked me to turn off Find my iPhone and then proceeded to run some kind of a diagnostic sofware installed through the local Wi-Fi network. Afterwards she said that my battery was fine and needed to open it up for further diagnostics. I proceeded to erase the phone and hand it over. She did warn there will be a S$35 “diagnostic fee” if there were any “unauthorized modification”.

After about 45 minutes later I came back and she gave me a new iPhone 5. I asked whether I needed to pay anything and she confirmed that it was a battery bulging issue and covered under a special warranty. I thank her and went on my merry way.

The “new” phone came with iOS 6 hence I needed to upgrade it. But thanks to high-speed fiber optic Internet, it took less than 10 minutes to download and install the update. Then I restored my old iPhone’s data via iTunes and was back up and running. This is an important caveat — iOS restoration cannot be done to an older version of the OS, hence you’ll need to update first before connecting it to iTunes for a restore.

Lessons Learned

  • Always have a current backup – first and foremost. That is, if you use your phone for anything important. Regularly sync your iPhone to iTunes so that you always have a current backup “just in case” (like for example if your phone gets stolen). You can also make use of iCloud’s backup option, but for me its free 5GB storage isn’t enough to backup everything.
  • For iPhones, probably it’s wise to go for the “S” revisions instead (e,g iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S). These designs are supposed to be more “mature” hence they should have figure out any design/manufacturing issues by then. Sure it’s less “cool” to be toting around what looks like last year’s model, but that shouldn’t matter — unless you’re immature.
  • Don’t do any “unauthorized modifications”.  Stuff like replacing the front plate with semitransparent glitter-encrusted glass. Probably jailbreaking is an “unauthorized modification” too (unless you manage to un-jailbreak it beforehand). Like what the customer service officer said, this will cost an extra S$ 35 diagnostic fee.
  • Again an example of Apple’s great customer service which you can get only from “premium” brands. For instance, I would be shocked if Xiaomi is able to provide comparable out-of-warranty replacement service. Then again, if your branded phone manufacturer won’t do the same, perhaps it’s time to switch brands.

Bonus point: iWork.

Apparently the probably-refurbished unit that I received is considered as a “new” iPhone – which entitles me to free copies of iWork and iLife for iOS. That’s Numbers, Pages, Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto, and GarageBand — probably a total value of about $45. These iOS apps are supposedly given for free only to owners of newer iOS devices (purchased after 23 Oct 2013). However when I checked the App Store on my “new” phone, these apps are available for free to me as well. Previously I have only bought Keynote and GarageBand – but these other apps can be useful as well. Perhaps finally I can replace the slow Documents to Go or the now-outdated QuickOffice (because Google bought them and killed them).

That’s all for now folks. Take care.

Update on 24-Jul-2014

IPhone SIM Not Valid errorI arrived in Jakarta yesterday and tried to use my usual Indonesian SIM card. To my surprise the phone refused to activate with that SIM card  with a “SIM Not Valid – The SIM card that you currently have installed in this iPhone is from a carrier that is not supported under the activation policy that is currently assigned by the activation server” error. I was furious – I paid full price for the original device and bought it without contract whatsoever. I’ve also contacted Apple’s chat support and they said that the issue was due to the hardware inside the iPhone (which I didn’t really believe because the device did show “3G” on the upper-left corner before prompting me with an activation prompt. This was clearly a server somewhere rejecting my phone’s request for activation – otherwise the “3G” indicator won’t appear at all.  (For Apple folks, my case number assigned to the chat support person was 639301349). This was around 2:00 in the morning, Jakarta time – which also means that none of the Singapore telephone support lines was available.

Around 8:00 in the morning Jakarta time I contacted Singtel (which is the telco of the last SIM card that I used on the iPhone) and they confirmed that they don’t lock iPhones. That points the problem back to Apple. Unfortunately A-Lab – the Authorized Apple Service Center that gave me the phone –  wasn’t accepting support calls at that time. When I called A-Lab back in the afternoon,  they said they’ll escalate this to Apple. A few hours later I was able to activate the iPhone, fortunately. This is after a good amount of roaming telephone calls from Jakarta to Singapore, a rather unpleasant experience I must say.

So lesson learned is when you get a refurbished iPhone you’ll need to immediately borrow another telco’s SIM card and try to use your phone with it. Another lesson learned is that Apple’s chat service isn’t really the folks to talk to when you have any service-related issue.



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