Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A toilet dunked iPhone cannot be serviced by Apple (but is the real policy don't ask don't tell?)

Note to past self - children should not be allowed to take electronic devices into the bathroom.

Hope that works for a different multiverse. In my multiverse #2 child dropped his inherited, unlocked, iPhone 4 into the toilet.

That's bad, but I knew that Apple will often replace out-of-warranty soaked iPhones with similar refurbished models for a flat rate that varies by model. In my case I'd expect to pay about $200 for a refurb with a fresh battery; much cheaper than the $500 or so cost of a similar unlocked no-contract device.

Alas, toilet phones are considered a biohazard. They can't be touched by Apple. If you think the phone is clean enough, (maybe you could soak it in a disinfectant?) you might consider selective truth. Hey, Romney lies, so it must be ok.

You could also try saying it got wet, or simply "it's not working" - without specifying how that happened.

I'm a lousy liar, so these options don't work for me.

This isn't a new policy; I've seen mention of it as far back as 2007. I suspect enforcement may vary, but it's the rule.

Do consider not allowing iPhones to approach toilets. Personally, I'd be happy if the iPhone 5+ was relatively water resistant (Blackberry is almost waterproof.)

PS. If you do drop an iPhone in water, this post has advice. We keep a set of DampRid packets on hand. Briefly: Dry it. Power off. Sandwich between DampRid packets in airtight air-exhausted baggie. Pop SIM card. Place beneath warming light. Do not touch for 24 hours. Retry. Unfortunately son #2 waited until the audio cut out before confessing his crime. I think he was hoping it would all go away.

Update: A friend, who is obviously more clever or duplicitous than I, suggested I clean the phone, then dunk it in the sink. Then I could truthfully report it fell into the sink.

Update 8/29/2012: Curiously neither of the water indicators appear to have been triggered. This fits with other stories I've heard; they're not always very sensitive. (No idea how specific they are.). More curiously, the phone is now making calls, at first it didn't. Likewise the external speaker is working again. That was out of order yesterday. Of course it would not be surprising if they failed in the near future.

Thinking back to my 'genius' (tech really) encounter, I think he was heavily hinting that he'd have had much more leeway if I'd just said the phone wasn't working -- or if I'd said it had gotten wet but not where or how. He had no options because I made the mistake of entering the explicit details when I registered for my appointment. In some cases I think the techs practice "don't ask, don't tell".

Along similar lines, Laura Tucker replaced a toilet phone a year ago -- and none of the various Apple stores she visited objected to the repair. In the end she used Apple's Express Repair Service; it starts with this screen. If you use it I suggest limiting your comments to the known problem (ex. no speaker). For an out of warrantee 32GB iPhone 4 the replacement cost is $30 (ERP fee) + $7 (shipping) + $149, + applicable tax. So about $200 -- assuming Apple gets the defective phone within the 10 day limit. This particular iPhone 4 is unlocked, I suspect a refurb replacement would be locked.

Update 8/30/2012: A NYT post on waterproof cases suggests toilets may be a majority of iPhone water incidents; "don't ask don't tell" must be the real policy. They liked:

Liquipel got a positive review from one tester. LifeProof's Amazon reviews are pretty negative, so it's certainly imperfect. Joy Factory reviews are entirely bleak.
Prices will fall after the iPhone 5 comes out, I'll look at the LifeProof then. Liquipel should be something Apple applies, or perhaps Hzo (website).
I wish there was more pressure on Apple to make iPhones more water resistant. Again, BlackBerry did it. We'll see if any of those linked rumors come true. For me that would be an iPhone 5 killer feature.
... An industry article published in November 2010 (http://www.articlesbase.com) lists the top five ways to protect your cell phone against water damage:
Never bring it with you to the bathroom;
Place your cell phone in a waterproof case;
Make certain that it is well protected from storms or rain;
Always remove your cell phone from your pocket the minute you get home;
Make sure your cell phone is waterproof by buying waterproof gear.
This is great advice, but obviously of little actual value...

Update 9/17/2013: 

The phone is still fine. I didn't expect that.

See also:


JoeP said...

"Hey, Romney lies, so it must be ok."

Thanks so much for that gratuitous political slap. We all know that lying should be called out on just one side of the aisle.

In a 50/50 nation, this is an excellent way to build your online brand.

Good job!

John Gordon said...

You've got a point.

Not about the false equivalence that Obama lies as much as Romney. All politicians dissemble and mislead, and sometimes they need to lie outright (obvious national security issues) -- but the modern GOP is taking bald lies to new extremes (for example [1]).

And not about the online brand. You probably wouldn't notice, but there are no ads here and no revenue. There's no brand, no strategy, just me sharing.

You're right though that it was gratuitous and unnecessary. Notes.kateva.org is my opinion blog, I try to keep tech.kateva.org largely opinion free -- just the problems and the solutions.

I'll get back on track, and keep the whacks at Romney/Ryan and the GOP to my twitter/app.net/pinboard/notes streams.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/wp/2012/08/30/the-true-the-false-and-the-misleading-grading-paul-ryans-convention-speech