Will Apple fix my phone if I have fixed part of it myself?
October 8, 2010 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Will Apple service my iPhone 'out of warranty' if it has been repaired with a 3rd party part? (Complicated circumstances within.)

My iPhone (3GS, 32gb) suffered two different (and I think unrelated) misfortunes recently.

First, syncing became erratic. It would occasionally fail with a message that "iPhone could not sync. The required file could not be found." The phone itself still worked, though.

Some time after this, I was out for a walk. I dropped the phone and cracked the glass/digitizer (but not the LCD).

I was using it cracked for a while, simply because it was easier than getting all the paperwork together for a repair. The phone continued to have problems syncing, so I decided to try a software restore. As far as I can tell, the glass was the only thing damaged in the fall.

The restore essentially bricked my phone. It failed with "error 9", and ended up stuck at the "connect to iTunes" screen. I tried a few more times to restore from DFU mode and it occasionally produced some other interesting error codes, the common thread of which was that the device was disconnecting or not communicating correctly with the USB controller. Never restored correctly, however.

I got the idea that I'd replace the digitizer myself, and then use my American Express extended warranty coverage (which extends the terms of the mfg warranty) to get the phone fixed. It was only after I had purchased the part and done the replacement that I realized that Apple won't repair things that have been touched by non-specialist hands. (To make matters worse, I tore the "do not remove" sticker in the process of replacing the digitizer.)

Do I stand a chance of having my repair covered? How closely do they look at these things?
posted by iktomi to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
*Extremely* closely. I used to work at one of their call centers as tech support, and when you send it in to the warehouse they look at everything. When you do something like replace the digitizer yourself, you've voided the warranty.

Not what you're asking, but do you have the latest version of iTunes? Did you try with a different USB cord? A different port? A different computer (with the latest version of iTunes)? A mac computer AND a windows computer? Different combinations of cords and usb ports on all computers? Did this happen after you updated to iOS 4? (that may be able to score you some points with tech support, as for a while there we were covering a lot of problems that arose after the iOS software upgrade that we normally wouldn't have.)

One of the above *might* fix your phone, but it's likely that you're looking at that which cannot be un-bricked. That blows, and I'm sorry.

Try looking up ways to jailbreak your phone, since at this point your warranty is fucked anyway. It's possible that, if this happened after iOS 4, that reverting your phone to an earlier software version might be able to resurrect it. Best of luck!
posted by adrianna aria at 9:43 PM on October 8, 2010

Latest iTunes, on OS X 10.6. Tried with both USB ports and two different USB cords... might try a windows computer, if I can get one.

I was thinking, since I'd be having AmEx pay the $199 out-of-warranty service fee, that they might look at it anyway. No chance of that I guess? The thing I MOST want to avoid is a $100 "diagnostic fee" for something they refuse to fix.
posted by iktomi at 11:42 PM on October 8, 2010

Apple won't charge you a diagnostic fee to look at it. There's no need to have your paperwork if they can read the phone's serial number. As far as I know, the Amex ext warranty is good for the first year and, though you should check with them, would reimburse you any costs associated with an official repair/replacement.
posted by now i'm piste at 7:55 AM on October 9, 2010

Ah, okay, I misunderstood that AmEx would be paying the out of warranty service fee. In that case, go for it--Apple will certainly take your (or AmEx's) money to "repair" (read: replace) your iPhone for you. They don't do a diagnostic fee. If you live near an Apple Store the easiest thing to do would be to make an appointment there and if they've got your phone in stock they can replace it for you right then and there. If you don't live near a store, give the customer service line a call (1-800-MYIPHON), and be upfront about explaining that you know the thing is borked and you just want to know repair/replacement options.

Good luck!
posted by adrianna aria at 2:18 PM on October 9, 2010

So, it turns out that AMEX did not even need a more "official" repair estimate from Apple. I just sent them the prices quoted in the support article on "out of warranty service" and they reimbursed me.

Hurrah for AMEX, I guess!
posted by iktomi at 11:14 PM on November 9, 2010

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