I have a collection of all iOS ever made, all iPhones, all iPod Touches, of course the iPads. I call it “my museum”. Though only the oldest are actually on display since the newer one are all in use. Of the iPhone 4S I even have 3 in active use, though when all my users will have moved on, I’ll sell away all but one to also take its honorary position.
My 3GS was in use by my Cousin-in-law who I am sponsoring to interest her in a career in tech. She’s got a website where she does iOS tutorials as well as app reviews. So I am seeing that – however far – related to my business and thus can justify the expense. It greatly pained me when I learned that the volume button had jumped off the device. “Dropped? Me?! NEVER!”
Thankfully I was able to get it restored to better-than-before mint-ness. This is how.
The first thing I checked was iFixit for an idea as to how much effort it would be to replace the volume rocker. 4 pages, difficulty “moderate”, but I gave up (reading) when I got to step 16 which employs a hair dryer to separate the battery from the back case. Pass! While the parts and needed materials would have been around $20, even an expert would probably have taken around 1-2 hours and still risking irreparable damage to the phone.
Next I called a Mac repair shop in Vienna and inquired about the costs for the repair. Turns out they cannot get just the volume button because on the 3GS everything is mounted onto the back case. That’s spare part can be gotten for €95. Add to that some expert screwing time and you again end up in the hundreds.
Finally I called Apple.
Apple have a fabulous repair policy. For €124,17 (excl. VAT) you can get any iPhone repaired. Devices covered by AppleCare probably cost less or nothing, but my 3GS never had AppleCare. Even if it did, it would have long been expired.
They send UPS to pick up the device and assess the damage in a central service center. If there’s any damage that cannot be easily fixed they instead will return a refurbished device. In my case exactly the same model: 32 GB, black, 3GS, no simlock.
The damage on the 3GS was all around. There was a crack on the back case, some damage on the front bottom bezel and of course the missing volume rocker. No way that this could have been repaired, so I got a “new” 3GS. Apple informed me to this effect by sending me an e-mail with the old and new IMEI of the device.
The next happenstance after my phone call was that a UPS driver came to pick up the device as it was. No need to even pack it or anything.
The whole process keeps you informed to a fault. You get emails and tracking information and so I was able to follow my device all the way to Eindhoven in the Netherlands and the new one back. You get email notifications every step of the way and there’s an online link where you can also see the current status of the repair.
I ordered the repair on August 20th, a Monday. Two days later the 3GS arrived at the service center. One day after that the replacement phone was shipped back and it arrived August 24th. 4 days total must be some sort of world record for a phone repair.
The refurbished device came in a nice box and had a protective film on front and back. This made the receiving of it an unboxing experience by itself. Isn’t that really cool?
I am extremely happy with this kind of service because getting an iPhone 3GS in good condition (even on eBay) still would have cost at least twice as much. Of course you cannot expect them to have devices in stock for devices that have gone out of fashion too long ago, but I assume that all devices still being supported by iOS 6 will be available.
Overall I give highest marks to Apple for providing such an awesome repair experience. Which is even cheap compared with the cost of buying a replacement device for my collection. Those are the kinds of experiences that make you proud to be working with Apple’s platforms.