In December 2008 I got a white iPhone 3G. And I did get a hard case for it, but I dropped it on the least protected part of the phone. I didn’t see any cracks when it happened. A few weeks later I did notice a crack on either side of the ringer/silent switch. At the time I thought I ought to see about getting the back shell replaced. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. The silver part of the ringer/silent switch broke off. That pushed up the urgency of getting it fixed. The phone is still under warranty and I do have AppleCare, but this kind of damage is not covered under warranty. I used to repair cellular phones and two-way radios, so I understood what is and isn’t covered under warranty. The phone still works, but I think because of the cracked case it makes the touch panel overly sensitive and apps start up at random. Either by jostling it, setting it down a little hard, and by touching the display not near the app that was started. Finally, I thought, I would check at an AT&T store about getting it fixed. I was told at the AT&T store that I should go to the Apple Store. Not a good start.

I set up an appointment at the Apple Store Concierge Genius Bar online or whatever the fuck they call it. About the Apple Store here in Tucson. It is an exercise in frustration. Whoever thought up the Genius Bar concept should be smacked. Repeatedly. If you’ve never been in an Apple Store before there is no obvious counter or person to talk to when you go in, nor can you really tell what the hell is going on. You see dozens of people milling about. Some of them look pissed off. Customers? The only thing that gives you a clue that something might happen is the display above a counter showing names of people… to be served next? Also you see people wearing shirts that make you suspect they work at the store.

I’d been to the store once before to purchase an AV cable which allows me to play movies from my iPhone on my TV. Once I figured out how the store worked and got some advice from another customer. I made my purchase and left. Cable works beautifully. Now that I’d been there I sort of knew what to expect. I went in at the designated time. The website tells you to be their 5 minutes early. I saw my name up on the screen and I heard my name called. I chatted with a nice young lady who told me they don’t do repairs like that, but I could replace my phone for $199. I was already expecting to spend close to a $100 for parts and labor. Still $199 was too much. She suggested the name of a local company that might be able to repair it. I left.

That company no longer appears to be in business. I found traces of it’s existence via Google but their website is gone. Then I thought maybe I could replace the back cover myself. I’d already watched a video how to replace the front glass of an iPhone if it had been shattered.

After watching it, I saw what a pain in the ass that was, but I figured replacing the back shell should be a lot easier. Ha! Boy was I wrong. I found a web page how to disassemble an iPhone 3G, and it’s an even bigger pain in the ass. You have to remove a lot of very tiny parts. Now on to the 5 Stages of Grief:

1. Denial and Isolation.
2. Anger.
3. Bargaining.
4. Depression.
5. Acceptance.

I’ve already been through stages 1 and 2. I denied that there was a problem by ignoring it. Until the switch broke. Anger, when I was told how much it would cost to fix, or rather replace. I’m just about done with 3 bargaining to see if I could do it myself. I will be depressed that I’ll have to pay $199 to get a replacement, and when I shell out the money that will be my acceptance. I still have to do a little bargaining. I need to know if I still get to keep my warranty and AppleCare if I do this.

The bottom line is this: If you have to pay $199 to replace your iPhone for a refurbished one, it’s worth it, but you have to go through the five stages of grief to realize it.