The Current State of Apple

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I’ve been using Apple products since I was two. I choose Apple not because I’m anti-other-brands but because the products work for me. Now I didn’t say they always work. Apple products, like any other, break from time to time, but when they do, I can usually count on Apple to make it right, quickly and easily.

Unfortunately, I’m starting to see that Apple fade, and it has me concerned.

It doesn’t take a lot of internet sleuthing to find people complaining about hardware and software woes of recent Apple products and services. Apple just implemented an extended repair program for keyboards on all of its current Macbooks because they’re failing at such high rates, and they are refocusing the next OS releases on stability because of such a high rate of bugs.

Thankfully, I’ve missed out on most of these bugs and hardware issues even being on the betas and not being afraid to buy the new models, but then there’s my iPhone X.

I love my iPhone X, but it’s certainly had its share of frustrating but tolerable bugs. Occasionally the screen would just stop responding or it wouldn’t wake from sleep by tapping the screen. I adapted and just knew to press the lock button in either situation. Looking back now, I should have seen these as red flags to begin with, but what happened next was certainly a red flag I couldn’t live with.

I arrived in Austin two weeks ago for a week-long vacation. That first night, I noticed my phone was behaving erratically – opening apps, typing, swiping, etc. People around me must have thought I had some next-generation FaceID where I could control my phone with my eyes. The next day, it was worse. In fact, it was actually locking me out of my phone because it was typing in passcodes. Really fun when you’re on a vacation.

I started planning an impromptu trip to an Apple Store, but then it stopped – for a few days at least. Instead of erratic behavior, now the middle of the touchscreen wasn’t responding to me at all. This was at least tolerable until I could get home as long as I used Reachability to move things to a working part of the screen.

Once I got back home, I did a little digging. It turns out this is actually a fairly common issue on the iPhone X. I got in touch with Apple who asked me to do a system restore on my iPhone before determining it was definitely a hardware issue and that I’d need to take my phone into an Apple Store.

Friday evening after work, I waited for 30 minutes beyond my appointment in a crowded store to have them insist on running more diagnostics to ensure there was actually a problem. Nevermind that by this time, the phone was sitting on the table untouched opening the News app and toggling the Zoom feature repeatedly. I was told I needed a screen replacement which would take an hour and a half. I didn’t have an hour and a half to wait, so I had to leave with my broken phone for another day.

Here’s where it gets fun. When trying to reschedule an appointment, I was told that the next appointment available wasn’t until Thursday at a store 3 hours away from me. My other option was to get an express replacement which would have taken a week to get to me. So much for express.

This phone is my main communication device for both family and work, not to mention, I’m part of the Apple Upgrade program so I’m paying $50/month for the phone. Not having it functioning for another week was just not going to work.

Somehow I managed to go to my local store and get a walk in appointment. That hour and a half estimate for the screen replacement actually took around 3 hours because I had to wait around for technicians, but all in all, I now have a working phone again.

Now here’s where my gripe is. This is a $1200 phone, made by the richest company in the world, that failed in under a year under normal, careful use. Even then, I get technology fails and I was understanding.

However, a couple years ago, I could have walked in with a glaring well-known hardware issue and a Genius would have gone in the back and brought out a refurbished device, my device would have been fixed for the next person, and I’d have been on my way that very first night. Apparently, whether to replace or repair a phone is now up to the technician, and I just got the unlucky fate of having one that wanted to replace the screen, so I got stuck waiting.

Apple used to symbolize quality both in terms of hardware and service. Paying the Apple premium was okay because you had the peace of mind that you would be taken care of if something happened to your device. You wouldn’t be given the runaround at one of the other electronics stores. Now they are just another one of the electronics stores.

Here’s to hoping the next year or so is a year of improvement for Apple and not just more of the same.

Photo by Medhat Dawoud on Unsplash

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