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.

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