For many, Apple is a love ‘em or hate ‘em company. Some don’t like their closed systems and some still think there’s an Apple tax (there isn’t, but that’s not a discussion for right now). Many, including me and my fiancée, really just enjoy their products and find them to beat the competition for overall experience and what we’re looking for. That’s not what this post is about though. This is about something else.
Two days ago, my fiancée’s iPhone 3GS decided to go swimming. Okay, in reality, it was her fault 100%. She accidentally left it in the pocket of her jacket when she put it in the washer. She quickly realized and pulled it out, but it had already been mostly submerged by this point. Acting quickly, she threw it in a bag of rice and when I got home shortly after that, I took the phone apart to speed up the drying process and put it back in the rice. We were hopeful that we had saved it, but we both knew that the phone probably wasn’t going to make it. I could clearly see all of the liquid detection indicators inside had been tripped.
We let the phone sit for a day and a half in the rice before I put it back together and tried to turn it on. The next couple of hours were spent trying to get the phone out of an endless boot cycle. It wasn’t completely dead, but wouldn’t fully turn on either. We got nothing but the Apple logo on a very clearly waterlogged screen that at least still worked if you didn’t mind the water swirls. I plugged it into my computer to try and see if I could do a restore and, to my surprise, iTunes recognized the phone and would sync it and back it up (I was sure to only backup on my computer and not hers to avoid any chance of corrupting her backup and losing stuff forever). I ran the restore process successfully, but the phone still would not boot.
After being stuck in the endless boot cycle for a while and restoring a couple more times, I gave up. I took the phone apart again and threw it back in the rice. I knew that if there was still moisture, everything I just did probably sealed the phone’s fate and letting it dry more wasn’t going to do anything at this point. Still, I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Today, we made an appointment at the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store. After work, we came home and I put the phone back together so we could bring it over there. This time, the phone wouldn’t turn on at all. It seemed completely dead.
Now, I explained all that because this is exactly what I told the Apple genius. I was completely straight about it. The phone had water damage, it was our fault, and I even took it apart (which would have voided the warranty if it was still covered). Why beat around the bush? They can tell if a phone has water damage and lying wasn’t going to help anything. At least, if he knew what happened, he would know what steps to take.
He plugged the phone into a computer and it seemed like the battery was just completely dead. We let it charge for a bit and he restored it, but the phone still would not boot. While we were waiting, I asked him what our options were and I was frank with him. I told him that we really didn’t want to sign another two year contract with AT&T and buy an iPhone 4 more than half way into its lifecycle. He totally got that and basically agreed that if that was our thought process then it made sense for us not to.
Coincidentally, the genius that helped us had actually seen that same phone before. I remembered him from a while back when the screen was acting funny and we took it in. It turned out to just be a cable that had come unseated inside and he fixed it in about two minutes. After he explained what it was, I asked if he wouldn’t mind double checking the cable on my phone (I still had a 3GS at the time) just in case. He had no problem taking a look for me and didn’t even care that my phone was jailbroken–he just reminded me that if I had a problem, I’d have to restore and unjailbreak before bringing it back. Anyway, I mentioned that to him and we chatted a bit.
Back to the point, he looked up my fiancée’s account and came back and said “I’m just going to replace this for you.” I was pretty shocked, we had prepared ourselves for re-upping with AT&T and plunking down $200 for a new iPhone 4 (this would have also killed my iPhone 5 upgrade plan since I had the idea of taking her upgrade and giving her my current iPhone 4, a plan she was okay with). I was hoping it wouldn’t come to all that and we could at least just buy a 3GS refurb cheaply or something. So when we were told that they were going to take care of us, I was pretty stoked. The guy simply said that he’d rather see us leave happy than have to decide if we wanted to sign a new 2 year contract with AT&T and get an iPhone 4 halfway through it’s lifecycle.
What other company would do this? Seriously? Companies don’t replace water damaged products, nor should they. A water damaged product is clearly the user’s mistake, not theirs. Apple didn’t need to do this, but they did…and it was their idea. The entire time, the genius was very friendly, happy, and kept small talk with us. There is nothing else we could have asked for from the experience. Actually, they could have done a lot less and we still would have been happy.
This is one of the reasons why Apple will continue to get my money. I’m no fanboy, but despite their flaws, they just do most things better.