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Exchanging your faulty iPhone

Just like every other electronics product, your iPhone can or will have problems. In my case, the home button was not responsive. Since it is a mechanical part that I interact most often, it is only natural that it eventually wore off. I was lucky it happened while it was still covered by the warranty, so I could take it for a free service from Apple. Really? No!

The fact that recent Apple consumer products like iPhone is a very integrated product makes it so there are no user-serviceable parts. In a way, people think it is bad, since you cannot have extra batteries for instance. It is made in such a way even the local Apple authorized service centers will not be able to service it for you. Instead, they will exchange your faulty iPhone with a new replacement set immediately — subject to stocks availability.

So, what is this new iPhone replacement set anyway?

Well, I do not have a certain information, so take it with a grain of salt. Based on user posts in some Apple forums and from the service center staffs, I think it can be either (most probably) refurbished or new set. It will come in a black box with nothing but the iPhone. No cables, earphones, or other accessories are included in this replacement set. In other words, they will only exchange your iPhone, not the accessories.

A refurbished set means it was once a faulty set that has been repaired by the manufacturer in a way it looks like a new one, but of course it is not. Some parts like the chassis or the battery may be new, but not everything is new.

Because of this, and the high possibility of getting a refurbished set, you better not exchange your iPhone if there is no problem with it, or you may end up having another iPhone with a worse condition. When I exchanged for the first time, two days ago, I got a replacement set that had problems during calls. More specifically, the other party often could not hear anything I said on the phone. I went and got a second replacement for this issue.

Also, you don’t always get the latest iPhone and/or iOS release. My first replacement iPhone was a week 35 production and came with iOS 4.3.5 while the second week 31 with iOS 4.3.3. I did the second exchange on a different outlet, so it really depends on the availability.

Okay, done with the blabberin’, so what do you need to do to get your faulty iPhone replaced?


There are some conditions that you have to satisfy before you are entitled to a replacement iPhone:

  1. It must be still under warranty. Normally it is one year since the purchase and activation date. You can extend it to two years if you buy an Apple Care protection plan for your iPhone.
  2. You must have bought your iPhone in your local authorized resellers or local Apple stores (online or offline). It includes authorized telecom companies, in Singapore, they are Singtel, StarHub, and M1.
  3. It must not have a severe physical damage. Some small scratches shouldn’t matter, but your mileage may vary.
  4. It must not have been soaked in water. The service center staff usually uses a simple torch light to check for the water damage (corrosion) in your iPhone headphone and charger sockets; you can do the same before going.
  5. I am not sure if they will replace a jailbroken iPhone, but just to be on the safe side, restore it to the factory condition using iTunes.

Exchanging your iPhone

If you have satisfied the conditions, now you can go and exchange your faulty iPhone. The exchanging process usually does not take too much time (only about 15-20 minutes for me), but if there are many customers, you may have to queue for a while.
  1. Back up your iPhone using iTunes. You don’t want to reinstall all your apps manually and lose all your precious data, do you?
  2. Go to a nearest or your preferred Apple service center. Keep in mind, though, if you bought your iPhone from a telco, you need to go to the telco service center, not Apple’s. In my case I went to StarHub service center. If you bought your iPhone online in Singapore, you need to go to QCD at Tagore Building.
  3. When you hand over your iPhone to a staff, they will do the usual routines:
    • Check for water damage.
    • Check the warranty.
    • Validate your complaints. Normally they are not too strict about this, they just believe everything that you say. Nice, isn’t it? But of course, your mileage may vary.
  4. Then they will hand you a replacement set. Take your time and check it thoroughly before taking it home.
  5. Once you agree to accept the replacement set, they will do the registration, move your SIM card, and activate the phone for you. Then you can take it home with you immediately.
  6. Open iTunes and restore the last backup to your replacement iPhone. Now it will be just like your original iPhone.
That’s it, a very simple process. I can say this is a completely different level of service from Apple compared to other companies.
They will also extend your warranty to 3 months from the exchange date, so you can still come back if you find issues with your replacement set.
Power Support Anti Glare FilmOne more thing (:
I put a quite expensive Power Support film set (screen protector) on my iPhone. I don’t want to discard them and spend another $35.00 to buy a new one for my replacement iPhone. So, I asked the staff to move the film from my old iPhone to the replacement set. And surprisingly, the kind staff agreed to do it, and they did it properly (no misalignment or bubbles). They did it in two different occasions (I exchanged my phone twice). So thank you kind StarHub staffs. I don’t remember their name, but the first was a kind gentleman from StarHub VivoCity, and the second was a friendly and pretty lady at booth 8 from StarHub Plasa Singapura.
You saved me from potentially spending $70.00 (: