A Sad Un-Re-Boxing: How to Repair Your iPhone via FedEx

My iPhone 3G, 16gb in the white flavor, has hardware issues. As I reported in our forums, it started with the volume-down button not working, and then the issue seemed to spread to volume up, the ringer switch, and the sleep button. A full restore from iTunes didn't save it -- confirmed hardware. Having no Apple Store nearby, I decided to give Apple's phone support a try. Twenty minutes on hold and a few questions later, they sent me a box. The procedure is very simple, read on for the mini-gallery and return process details.

  1. Back up your iPhone to iTunes
  2. Pop out your SIM Card
  3. (Optional) Erase your iPhone's contents for safety (using the iPhone Secure Erase option, natch)
  4. Package the whole thing up to get sent back to Apple, who will send it back.

The unboxing images below show just how well Apple does with all this -- the box they send has very clear instructions, protects your precious iPhone in a surprisingly well-made box, and contains all the necessary packing materials like tape and the like. Then simply rip off the label they used to send the empty box to reveal the return label and hand the whole kit-n-kaboodle to your FedEx driver. Apple says that it should get back to me in about a week, probably less.

All in all, it's a great solution for those who aren't near an Apple Store. It helps if you have an AT&T-compatible phone sitting around too -- I was able to slap my SIM card into a Motorola Q9h and it's up with full data and voice capabilities without having to switch away from the iPhone plan. Good on ya, Apple, and good on Apple Care. Apple Care might just be the only warranty program out there that isn't an out-an-out scam, and when you're on it Apple does indeed treat you right.

[gallery columns="2" size="thumbnail"]

Dieter Bohn

Dieter Bohn is former editor-in-chief of Smartphone Experts, writing across iMore, Windows Phone Central, Android Central, and more. You can find him on Twitter (and everywhere else) @backlon.

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There are 13 comments. Add yours.

iphonemilk says:

So sorry about that man!! I hope you get your next one soon!! =)

Matthias says:

They even thought of a paperclip...
Great, thanks for the photos! :)

The Reptile says:

I hope your replacement unit is much more reliable. With that said, one man's pain is another man's opportunity. So, when do the refurbished iPhone 3G's go on sale?

Bad Ash says:

Another fallen soldier... :) I feel for you.

PC says:

I had to do the same with my original IPhone. But they sent me a loaner. It actually said AppleCare Loaner on the back of it. I synced it with ITunes like I never was without a phone, obviously using my original SIM. Kinda a bummer that they didn't do that here, but nice to see that they still use first class materials to ship and even include tape. Will keep buying Apple products because of this kind of service.

Meh_Whatever says:

I've been through 4 iPhone 2g units. No joke.
I live near 2 Apple stores, though, and I've just gone in, stated my woes, and they've given me new/refurb units.
My latest one I got back in April? I think... or maybe it was March. It's been great so far. Every other one I had, including the one I got on launch day has had 'issues'.

Steve says:

This is the same shipping/boxing system Apple uses for dealing with service providers, and any user replaceable part (EG laptop battery, AC adapter). It's a good system.

earless puppy says:

I went through this process with my original iPhone and I was very impressed with Apple, so impressed I bought a Mac and ditched my windows box

nsaaaa says:

sadly ive seen this box all of 6 times since i bought my 2g iphone a year ago, yes thats a total of 7 iphones in about a year. hardware issues, battery issues, software issues to broken internal antennas .. ive seen it all. sucks ti hear your new iphone 3g isnt up to standards, if it wasnt for apples great replacement plan i would have given up on the phone months ago, you forgot however that apple offers a temp replacement iphone for like 29 bucks while they fix your old one, i even got this fee waived the first time becauase i only had the phone a week. :D

jaimex99 says:

I recently had to do the same for my iPhone 2G (due to a couple of stuck pixels). The process was extremely fast. In three days, the phone went to Apple and came back. They replaced it for a brand new iPhone 2G. However, I must say that the people in charge of the process on the phone are not very friendly. I understand that they have a lot of issues with the release of the 3G iPhone, MobileMe and firmware 2.0, but still. Being of Hispanic origin, I have a slight hispanic accent. People usually don't have trouble understanding me. They do notice that I have an accent, but everyone praises my good English. Well, the Apple people seemed to be the kind of people who might have never heard someone with any kind of accent, because they struggled to understand every other word I said. I never felt so stupid in my life! It did not matter how much I tried to enunciate every syllable, they just did not get it.
In general my experience witth Apple Customer Care was positive because they solved my problem, but the way they treated me left a lot to be desired.

FJR says:

interesting, so they aren't offering an applecare iphone while you wait? Not even a 2G? Or did you just not feel like dealing with that?

Mile says:

Actual topic. Writing is worthy of attention.

Dwayne Firebaugh says:

I'm rather interested in this now. Please e-mail me more information ;)