Why You Should Always Use the Free AppleCare Repair Service

Aug 6, 2014 - 11 Comments

iPhone Repair Service from Apple

From time to time, Apple will offer free out-of-warranty repair services for devices and hardware that are determined to be dysfunctional or defective. For example, many users experienced the failure of their iPhone 5 lock / power button, and Apple later determined that some of the devices manufactured were susceptive to power button failure, thus beginning the iPhone 5 Sleep / Wake Button replacement program. I sent my own iPhone 5 in for service to take advantage of that free repair, and I’m very glad I did.

Repairing the Primary Problem… and Fixing Other Issues Too

The obvious benefit for using the free repair service is the direct issue gets resolved. In this case, the iPhone 5 sleep/wake button was replaced. But that’s not always where the repairs end. Because Apple runs thorough diagnostic tests on the device before sending it back to you, they may discover other issues, and, because their customer service is quite generous, they often repair the other issues while they have the device, at no cost to you.

That brings me back to my own iPhone 5 which was recently sent in, and not only did Apple repair the malfunctioning Lock / Power button, but also the camera (regular readers may recall that the camera was mysteriously loose and sometimes not working, an issue some other users reported), and Apple even gave the iPhone a brand new battery – which as far as I knew, had no issues at all – but the new battery does last a significantly longer amount of time. Is that awesome or what?

Here’s the AppleCare Service Summary that was returned with my iPhone showing what was replaced:

AppleCare Repair Summary for iPhone

The top item listed is the sleep/wake/lock button which the iPhone was originally sent in for, next on the list is the battery, and last is the new camera. All repaired by Apple on an out of warranty iPhone, for free.

How Long Do Apple Repairs Take?

If you’re located near an Apple Store, sometimes they can repair the device that day, sometimes it’ll take a few days, and sometimes they just swap you out with another device onsite immediately. What happens really depends on a variety of things, ranging from the issue being repaired, the rep you work with, and the stores availability of replacement components.

Visiting an Apple Store is inconvenient for me, thus I went for the mail-in route. After making a repair request through the Apple site, Apple sent a box through FedEx and it arrived the next day, and I sent the phone off immediately. It went to Apple’s primary repair center in Elk Grove, California, and was returned to me within the same week, in total it was gone about 4 full business days. For a mail-in repair service, that’s quite fast, and certainly much faster than most other repair services I’ve worked with. Keep in mind this is for out-of-warranty devices. If your iPhone is still under warranty, they’ll usually just send you a new iPhone right away, and the box sent with it is used to return your malfunctioning device with – meaning you’re never without a phone.

What You Should Do Before Sending the iPhone in for Repair

The big thing to remember when sending an iPhone (or any item) for repair is to back up all your data first. For the iPhone, that means backing it up to a computer with iTunes, or to iCloud, or better yet – both. This lets you quickly restore your stuff when you get the phone back, without missing a beat.

Also, don’t forget to turn off Find My iPhone (otherwise the iPhone could be stuck on iCloud Activation Lock), remove any cases from the iPhone, and Apple prefers it if you reset the iPhone to factory default settings before sending it in too. Assuming you talk to an Apple rep on the phone or through online chat, they’ll walk you through all these processes as well.

Obviously not every iPhone or device sent in to Apple will receive additional repairs for free, but there’s certainly a chance something else will be found and they’ll fix that as well. So if your iPhone is eligible under the Sleep / Lock button replacement program (or any other free repair service for that matter), why not send yours and see what happens? At the very least, your power button will work again.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Troubleshooting

11 Comments

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  1. david m says:

    A friend of mine took their iPhone in to the Apple Store, said the top button wasn’t working, and within 2 minutes he was given a brand new iPhone – no hassle, no paperwork, no questions asked.

    A coworker also had a similar experience, but got what is probably a refurbished unit immediately (didn’t come in the normal iPhone box but otherwise looked brand new).

    So yea, if you can take it to an Apple Store location, I think you usually just get a new or refurbished phone immediately. But mailing it in, perhaps they do the repairs and fix other stuff too. Either way that’s a pretty good deal.

    Also keep in mind that many credit cards extend the warranty on purchases, so if you have an issue that isn’t effectively covered by Apple then you can often work with VISA / AMEX / etc to get it fixed.

  2. YJ Chua says:

    I sent in my 5 because of the power button issue, and within 2 minutes, the AASP (there’s no Apple stores in Malaysia) gave me a brand new iPhone 5S (they didn’t have any 5 in stock)!

  3. Jeffrey Jenkins says:

    I just sent my 1st gen. Nano in (via free UPS mailer) because it was on Apple’s list for possible battery problems. I had bought my Nano at the Apple online store literally seconds after it went on sale. It was still working just fine but I figured what the heck.

    Two days later I received a new (or maybe refurbed but who cares?) 7th gen. Nano sans extras but I already have tons of earphones and lightning connectors. So I got a touch screen, 16GB ssd, video and FM capable device with better battery life, larger screen and much smaller overall size in exchange for a 1st gen. Nano at no cost to me whatsoever.

    I had Apple Care on the 1st gen. Nano but it had long ago expired. Yeah, I’m happy!

  4. Jimmy G says:

    I took my iPhone 5 in with the power button issue, when it came back it had some crazy bite message and we were unable to restore it. I found out anytime apple services a device, when you get it back it comes with a 30 day warranty. I ended up getting a brand new iPhone 5, thanks to the tech and manager, they told me about this. FYI in the future if you ever take your iPhone in for service, when you get it back you have a 30 day warranty for free. It doesn’t matter if your iPhone is already out of warranty.

    • Danny says:

      It is actually a 90 day limited hardware warranty for any hardware issues that may arise after a repair. As long as there is no accidental (liquid or physical) damage on the device.

  5. n1000 says:

    Yeah well – I gave my iPhone 5 to the Applestore. They did hundreds of tests in the store deleted everything, said I could keep the display protection. When it came back the display protection was removed and the on/off button was NOT repaired. In the store they said they do not know why AppleCare refused the repair. After 1h (!) on the phone with AppleCare they said they don’t know either… So yeah – I spent like 5h making backups / restores, driving to AppleStore, calling AppleCare and all I got was my broken phone minus the 50$ display protection. Thank you Apple…

  6. DG says:

    Might just be me but…
    So it goes in for a defect. While they’re fixing that defect they notice another and put it right.
    At this point I’ve not seen them do anything altruistic.
    On top of that they upgrade to the next iOS, (which I might not want).

    It’s not all good.

  7. Goberson says:

    Apple did something similar with my MacBook… took it in for a covered repair, they replaced the battery too. Cool!

    I also know multiple people who have taken their iPhone in for a malfunctioning camera or lock button or home button and who have been given brand new iPhone as a replacement. I think it depends on what they have in stock, how busy the Genius Bar repair service is, the store management, and perhaps even you the customers attitude. Be nice and they’re usually very nice in response, honey attracts bees!

  8. VLF says:

    If you are in Australia you are automatically covered by Apple for 24 months “and beyond” depending on the fault.
    The best consumer protection system in the world!
    Yet they still sell the protection plan… to the uninformed! LOL

    “Without limiting consumers’ rights, Apple will provide its own remedies equivalent to those remedies in the consumer guarantee provisions of the Australian Consumer Law at any time within 24 months of the date of purchase. For the avoidance of doubt, Apple acknowledges that the Australian Consumer Law may provide for remedies beyond 24 months for a number of its products.”

  9. Antony says:

    Thanks for the tip, Paul. As a result, I took my 5 in yesterday for the power/wake button issue. As part of the diagnostics, Apple noted the battery was at less than 80%.

    I was notified that the repair team may fix both the power button and battery when it goes for repair… OR they may decline to do both. Fingers crossed on getting them both fixed!

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