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Is Your iPhone 4 Defective? Get It Replaced Before its One-Year Warranty Expires

Is Your iPhone 4 Defective? Get It Replaced Before its One-Year Warranty Expires

Image credit: Luiz Machado via Flickr

Here’s a little reminder: check your iPhone 4 thoroughly for issues before your warranty expires. At this point in time, most iPhone 4s are still under their One-Year Limited Warranty — but not for long.

Here’s a partial list of some of the issues that may warrant a replacement:

  • Prematurely worn out buttons
  • High counts of dead pixels
  • Case discoloration
  • White bleeding
  • Yellow spots on the screen
  • Bars along the top or bottom of the screen
  • Persistent Wifi or connectivity issues may indicate defective antennas
  • Sound jack problems
  • Documented camera issues

Whenever I have an issue with an Apple product that warrants a visit to the genius bar, I am surprised at how few other Apple customers know what to expect as an outcome. For example, last week my iPhone 4’s sleep button started to stick. It became extremely difficult to press and within a day it stopped working altogether. Seeing that my iPhone was still covered by Apple’s One-Year Limited Warranty (it’s only about nine months old) I backed it up and scheduled a trip to my local Apple Store. In my case, it seems as if the button had prematurely worn out likely due to a defect in the button mechanism.

The next day I had a brand new (albeit technically refurbished) iPhone 4 in my hands. I did the exchange during my lunch break and still had time to grab something to eat afterwards. Total time spent: about 45 minutes. While I was at the Genius Bar I noticed that the woman sitting next to me had an iPhone 4 with the same problem — her iPhone’s sleep button had also stopped working. While we waited I asked her whether she expected Apple to replace her iPhone. To my surprise, she said that she did not. Well, they replaced her phone too.

I did some limited research and there are some reports of the sleep button wearing out in this fashion. In almost all cases the forum conversation goes something like this:

Distressed iPhone 4 Owner: “Help my iPhone’s button stopped working.”

Response Post: “That’s a shame, try taking it in and hopefully Apple will fix it.”

Distressed iPhone 4 Owner: “I don’t think they’ll fix it because I may have caused the damage myself. I just don’t know.”

Response Post: “No, seriously, just take it in. Apple will fix it.”

Distressed iPhone 4 Owner: “But I bought my iPhone from the AT&T store.”

Response Post: “Seriously… Just take your phone in. Apple will fix it.”

No Longer Distressed iPhone 4 Owner: “OMG, Apple fixed it! They just gave me a new iPhone! Thanks!”

There seems to be an awfully large number of people who are excusably misinformed about defects and how to get them addressed. If this happens to your iPhone 4, do not hesitate to take it in for repair, Apple will replace it. Provided your iPhone is still covered by its One-Year Limited Warranty or AppleCare and exhibits any legitimate defect, Apple will likely replace it. It’s really that simple.

My point here is not to tell you about my defective iPhone button, but to remind you to be sure you check your iPhone 4 thoroughly for issues before your warranty expires. As of the publishing of this article, most iPhone 4’s are still under their One-Year Limited Warranty (provided the warranty has not been breached) and many will be under AppleCare for years to come. The One-Year Limited Warranty travels with the iPhone, so it doesn’t matter where you bought it (AT&T, eBay, etc.). Now is the time to give your iPhone 4 a good hard look to determine whether any defects have manifested. If you find a defect, get it addressed before it’s too late. Just be sure to back up your iPhone before taking it in as you will need to re-sync it in order to restore all of your settings afterwards.

NOTE: Look out for Jonathan Zschau’s upcoming e-book from CultofMac.com, Buying and Owning a Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn’t Want You to Know. It’s full of advice like this on how to get the most out of you Mac.

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  • jacobdaniel

    I had the same problem with the sleep button on my iP4 back in February.  As soon as it happened, I called and made the appointment at the Apple Store, went in that evening, and just like you, walked out with a new phone.

  • Chris

    After I’ve had my 1st gen iPod Touch for  about a year, it’s home button also stopped working and the sleep button was very hard to press. I took it to a gravis store (we didn’t have an apple store at that time in hamburg) and they replaced it, too ;) it seems like they have obsolete models on stock for the ones who need a replacement, because they didn’t hand out a 2nd gen iPod touch to me ;)

  • junkie

    what are the “Documented camera issues”? my indoor photos have ugly greenish area, does that count? thanks

  • Guest

    Well, in Singapore, we’re not as lucky as you guys in the USA where you have Apple’s personal care. Here, we are attended to by “authorized repair companies”. I don’t think they deserved to be authorized because they don’t care about you at all! I sent my iPhone with a defect and they claimed and insisted that it was my fault that it got damaged. Oh well.

  • Metroview

    So what about a cracked backing that was caused by standing and forgetting that the phone was in my lap? I have a single crack that starts near the bottom left to the near upper right, and while I do now have a case for my iPhone, it’s pretty annoying to know that it’s there now.

    Would I be able to get it replaced for free while in warranty still?

  • Anon Developer

    It’s all dandy for those with Apple stores, but here in Belgium ,it’s a bleeding nightmare. Last time i had a problem – the loud speaker was working intermittently - with a 3GS and the operator (only choice) sent it off to some rubbish third party place. THREE weeks later i’m told they wont touch it as the humidity sensor was partly coloured. What a joke. They probably did it themselves as to get a refurbished one cost 320 euros. And if i had said ‘no thanks’ to the repair, i had to pay 30 euros just to get the thing back!! 

  • dagamer34

    I’ve heard this quite a bit too, as my friend had to have his phone replaced for the same problem. Double clicking the home button for multi-tasking is putting a lot of strain on it, making it wear out faster. I think they need to find a new way to activate that UI.

  • Sebastian Velez

    It all depends on your apple genius guy… I’ve had 5 iPhone 4s replaced sighing a 4 month Spanish due to faulty replacement buttons and screens…. My first one had yellow screen…. My second had defective silent/ringer switch, third had a broken sleep wake button UPON OPENNING THE BOX! and apple noted that I caused the sleep wake button to sink in….. Messed up move on apples part… Shortly after got it exchanged…. Then my last one just got a faulty home button…. My first one originally broke because the sleep button sank in….. So u can only imagine how mad I was that apple handed me a replacement phone with the sleep wake button already sinking halfway in right outta the box….

    Their replacement phones are caca…. But if ur phone looks like a replacement phone would b better… Than by all means… Go for it…. Just a heads up… Im from the Orlando Florida area and I’ve had 5 iPhone 4s replaced…. Kinda sad… The replacement phones r half assed

  • Sebastian Velez

    It all depends on your apple genius guy… I’ve had 5 iPhone 4s replaced sighing a 4 month Spanish due to faulty replacement buttons and screens…. My first one had yellow screen…. My second had defective silent/ringer switch, third had a broken sleep wake button UPON OPENNING THE BOX! and apple noted that I caused the sleep wake button to sink in….. Messed up move on apples part… Shortly after got it exchanged…. Then my last one just got a faulty home button…. My first one originally broke because the sleep button sank in….. So u can only imagine how mad I was that apple handed me a replacement phone with the sleep wake button already sinking halfway in right outta the box….

    Their replacement phones are caca…. But if ur phone looks like a replacement phone would b better… Than by all means… Go for it…. Just a heads up… Im from the Orlando Florida area and I’ve had 5 iPhone 4s replaced…. Kinda sad… The replacement phones r half assed

  • Sebastian Velez

    During* and Span* …. iPad typos man

  • crate

    My ‘Bumper’ case that I got with mine on day one, has left bunches and bunches of scratches all around the metal edge.  I’ve seen other iPhone 4s that went caseless, that look 90% better than mine. Would they do anything for me?

  • Bobby Scruggs

    do you guys know if they will replace it if the home button sticks sometimes or its not as responsive?

  • cwsiew

    Not all phones replaced by Apple are refurbished. Their clause does state that it could be refurbished or brand new. I’ve read in forums that this is determined by the serial number. A refurbished set should start with 5XXX. Anyhow, it really doesn’t matter if it’s refurbished, it has after all been QCed by Apple.

  • Bobby Scruggs

    so do you think they will replace it?

  • Jdsonice

    Well if you have an extended 2 year warranty on the phone then the rush to get it replaced after one year should not matter.

  • cooldaddybeck

    Sounds like you are being haunted…

  • dannypolicarpo

    Stupid question but does anyone know if the one year warranty covers the back glass plate being smashed/broken…

  • Robert Pruitt

    I dropped my first iPhone 4 and cracked the edge of the screen.  I was really bummed my new phone wasn’t perfect anymore.  I decided to bring it in and see how much a repair would cost.  Here is the honest to gosh conversation that took place:

    Apple Genius:  Wow, the phone just doesn’t look that good anymore.  If that happened to me I would be really sad.

    Me: I am really sad.

    Apple Genius:  Well, at Apple we don’t want our customers to be sad.  What size was the phone?

    Me:  (shocked). err. 32gb.

    Apple Genius:  Oh o.k.  here you go, but I need you to sign this form for the exchange.  Do you want me to transfer your information to the new phone?

    Me: No, thanks but I had backed it up already. 

    I freaking love Apple

  • Robert Pruitt

    I couldn’t agree more.  It really depends on the genius you get.  I have two stores near me and I have always had going to the second as a backup plan but I’ve never had to. 

  • Robert Pruitt

    My recommendation is to act really sad about the phone being broken.  Don’t be demanding about getting it replaced.  In fact, they might bring it up before you do.  Kindness goes a long way.

  • Robert Pruitt

    That probably does count actually.  Go in and show them.

  • Robert Pruitt

    PS:  I had a problem with Netflix on my Apple TV.  They exchanged it without question.  Then, the problem persisted.  I wrote Steve jobs and he had Chris Bell of the Apple executive team call me.  They actually ended up getting Netflix bandwidth pipeline for Apple TV devices increased. It turns out there is a dedicated stream just for Apple TV.  I mean, what other company listens like that?

  • CharliK

    Nope. That is accidental damage and is not covered. It’s like $30 to get it replaced. 

  • CharliK

    the genius you get means nothing in regards to the parts. THey have nothing to do with that side of things. THe factory and the shipment does. If they get a bad batch and they don’t have a large number of exchanges then sure if you go back to the same store where you got a dud replacement you could get another one. because they came from the same shipment. 

    The only time which genius you gets is in regards to the issue of getting something covered that technically they don’t have to. LIke say a back plate replaced for free. Some geniuses won’t ever cover that because they are letter of the law stickler asshats. Some will look at your history, see that you have never come in whining etc about something that was your fault and be a nice guy. As happened to me when my baby brother (5 year old) picked up my phone that he knows he’s not supposed to and dropped it and cracked the front and back. I went in to see if they still did that whole buy a service replacement phone for $200 if you are still under warranty thing and the guy literally said since I’ve never had a phone swapped since I bought my iphone 1 he’d cover it this one time for me. I have friends that have gone to the same store and gotten other folks that have never offered something like that and were just total asshats in general. 

  • CharliK

    Letter of the law is that you dropped it and no that is not covered. So walk in expecting and prepared to pay for the repair. If you get lucky, you get lucky. But don’t act entitled and be careful about turning on the water works cause some folks will see that for the con game that it is. 

  • CharliK

    Of course they do. They aren’t about to give you something that isn’t what you bought. Otherwise some folks would try to claim a defect so they could get an upgrade. 

  • CharliK

    “many will be under AppleCare for years to come”

    That makes it sound like you can get AppleCare on each phone year after year after year. Which you can’t. Two years after purchase you have nada in coverage. 

  • cheesy1

    i have the problems with wifi and connectivity therefore i might check into my local apple shop!

  • cheesy1

    i have the problems with wifi and connectivity therefore i might check into my local apple shop!

  • Guy

    of course, read the article

  • 5imo

    Similar expieriance with me. I had a problem updating the phone kept frezeing at about 80% and bricked the device went to the apple store once and the genius fixed the issue. went home and happend again. So I went back the next day and got the same genius and he gave me a new one. Now thats service and why i’ll continue to buy iPhone’s and am planning to buy a Mac.

  • nthnm

    My home button would just stop working for a period of time and then it would start working again. I took it in and they replaced it within 10 minutes. Although now my phone won’t ring, it’s sending calls straight to voicemail without giving me a missed call notification. I have something on my account documenting this, so I might be going in for yet another one…. :s

  • Exidor

    Yeah, broken glass isn’t covered.  My iPhone 4 was stolen on the subway in New York.  I chased the guy down and tackled him, and he threw the phone in the air when I did.  I turned around to pick it up and the guy punched me in the side of the head from behind.  Anyway, I got it back and the front glass was shattered.  I took it in to the SoHo store and they didn’t even ask me what happened.  They just told me it would cost $200 to replace, or they could put some tape on it.  I took the tape.  I found a place that will replace the glass for $130.

  • dannypolicarpo

    Thanks for the response people, i didn’t think it was covered. It’s already happened to me once and i paid £25 for a replacement from eBay and although the seller claimed it was genuine it wasn’t. The camera lens section (small round glass) was loose and fell off and the moulding inside was different to the original one from Apple. It’s done the job untill my friend dropped my phone on the weekend :(

    I guess another replacement from eBay will have to do if anyone has had any luck with a decent seller let me know.

  • The Good Dr.

    You know, this article reminded me of something.  With so many people salivating over what Steve will reveal tomorrow, I am reminded there is only one thing I care about right now in the context of Apple: whenever they choose to reveal the iPhone 5, all I care about is they ditch the glass back and go with something more durable.

  • jzschau

    That is a good catch lucascott. If AppleCare has been purchased, coverage may be extended to up to one year after the expiration of the standard warranty. 

  • Apple boy

    They are not refurbished phones ever, nor is anything else apple replaces. 5k*** just means it was manufactured at Apples American plant. Besides the only thing taken from old phones or other products are internal screws, flex cables, and wires. NON-Consumerable parts. All batteries, glass, cases, and logic boards /hard drives are brand-new.

  • wkfink

    Apple Care is worldwide; one call to Apple Care (http://support.apple.com/kb/HE… and you would have had an Apple employee talking to you, then they’d send you a box to put your phone in to, then they’d send you another phone (and possibly a bill for the work they did).

    FYI the humidity sensor being colored means there’s likely water damage in the phone, which isn’t covered by the initial parts and labor service, or by Apple Care.

  • cwsiew

    I think that is a matter of definition. In my opinion, the use of parts from
    any old device constitutes a refurbished set. If not, their clause need not
    state the difference as below.
    *
    If a hardware defect arises and a valid claim is received within the
    Warranty Period, at its option and to the extent permitted by law, Apple
    will either (1) repair the hardware defect at no charge, using new parts or
    refurbished parts that are equivalent to new in performance and reliability,
    (2) exchange the product with a product that is new or refurbished that is
    equivalent to new in performance and reliability and is at least
    functionally equivalent to the original product, or (3) refund the purchase
    price of the product.*

    Having a serial that indicates the phone was manufactured in the American
    plant might still be an indication that it is refurbished given that the
    default place of manufacture is China.

  • Cultofmac

    Is that onlt true in the States??

    Anyone with a UK experience?

     

  • Nutz320

    I’ve got one. I bought the 2011 MBP (my dad bought it for me), and I fell asleep with it on my knee. It fell down, cause I woke up to it on the floor. The monitor started acting funny. I restarted and everything was fine. I fell asleep a few more times with my MBP on my bed, though it fell a shorter distance (hey, I was too excited to get off it).
    Anyway, after a couple of drops, it would turn on, but the monitor was really bad. I asked my uncle to take it to the Apple Store (he lives much closer to one). They told him it had had some impact. They still replaced it. When he came back, he asked me about the impact. I said I didn’t know anything and I only realised what must have happened days later.
    This happened in the UK.

  • Liquiddrums2003

    I walked into an Apple store here in Austin, and literally told them that my girlfriend dropped her phone and cracked it. They replaced it, no questions asked. It really depends on who you get.

  • Mountainbo

    Should I wipe out my phone and completely erase it before I go in, in case it does actually get replaced?  Or is it ok if they take my phone away with all my info still on it?

  • ensong

    you guys are lucky, i bought my iphone 4 last week. the next day its dead. not charging or even turning on. i bring  it the next day to the distributor of iphone here in saudi. they told me ill received message when they entertain my complain. its been a week now and i dont receive any text from them. i call the other day and they told me im in the list of people who face the same problem. is apple’s warranty  not available in saudi arabia? today i went there again and they told me to wait…waiting for what?

  • Abdul-Muta’alee

    The BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900 and Touch 9930 have 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen displays with 640×480 pixels resolution. The QWERTY Keyboard and the optical Trackpad make this smartphones a valued business class model. The ‘touch and type’ feature adds more fun to use this smartphones.

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    BLACKBERRY Bold Touch 9930: $350
    BLACKBERRY STYLE 9670 FLIP: $300
    BLACKBERRY TORCH 9800 ….: $270
    APPLE IPAD 2 WiFi + 3G….: $400
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  • tylerabell

    Will Apple replace my iPhone 4 with a 4s under any circumstances?

    I am on my 4th replacement and every time I have started as a new iPhone. Meaning I have not restored from a backup and I have the latest software on my iPhone 4. I still have frequent app crashes and even native apps freeze my phone completely causing me to force the phone off.
    And texts and phone calls fail.

  • aderryman67

    can someone please reply to this post, (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address), i bought an iphone4 of a girl, i was shown that the phone was working the girl made a call, the girl then took out her sim card and the deal was done. i put a pay as you go sim card in it and it worked for a couple of days then all of a sudden it stopped working i cant make calls or anything. i think i may have bought a stolen iphone4. its  still in warranty i checked the serial number if i take it to my local apple store will they replace it or will they just take it off me or will i just be told that as i bought a possibly stolen iphone4 there is nothing they can do about it. please can someone help. reply to (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address). thanks 

  • Kerry Rae

    Does this work without Applecare insurance?
    ive got a AT&T iPhone 4 in white im now in the UK and im pulling my
     hair out cos I just can’t use it as a phone no more just a iPod contacted AT&T they don’t have the Unlock Codes on them for iphones im so sad but i still love this phone i wonder if apple can do anything for me?! anyone tried? btw phone was only launched july so still in warranty right?

  • Sankalp Vichare

    my iphone is not working it not getting charged and not getting switch on

  • Sankalp Vichare

    no

About the author

Jonathan ZschauJonathan was introduced to Apple at the age of five when his family bought its first computer, an Apple IIGS, in 1986. He has owned and used Macs almost exclusively ever since. He is an attorney from Boston, Massachusetts where he focuses on litigation technology. As a contributor he writes about consumer protection issues related to Apple products. He is also the author of Buying and Owning a Mac: Secrets Apple Doesn't Want You to Know.

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