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Saturday, January 15, 2021

Well fuck me in half — my iPhone 3GS appears to be dead.

And I killed it, via a dunk into water. And by “water”, I mean “toilet”. Yup, among the more embarrassing ways to inflict mobile-phone damage upon yourself, and I committed it. I mostly blame the sweatshirt I was wearing, though — the stupid pouch-pocket in front is basically designed for calamities like this. (I took out my frustrations by ripping said pocket clean off.)

I retrieved the phone within 5 seconds of submergence. After a quick alcohol-wipe cleanup (the toilet and its water was, thankfully, clean) and removal of the SIM card, I dropped it into a big jar of uncooked rice. I’ll leave it there over the weekend to dry out, but I’m not too hopeful of a recovery. Some gingerly-applied testing shows the audio is mostly shot, and weird notifications are popping up onscreen.

So, I’m faced with two realistic options:

1. Head over to an Apple Store and pay $199 for an out-of-warranty replacement 3GS. (Lest you think I’m regretting not getting an extended warranty, in fact water damage is not covered; so I’m glad I didn’t pony up, as I’d really feel stupid right now.)

2. Head over to an AT&T Wireless Store and pay $399 for a new iPhone 4, along with a re-boot to my wireless contract that now would run through 2013.

The first option seems like it makes more sense. But, the replacement probably will be a refurbished 3GS instead of a factory-new one. And even if it is factory-fresh, it’s still a 3GS, i.e. last year’s model. Basically, I’ll be paying a premium for nothing better than what I had. Worse, it’ll just remind me of the dumb method by which I acquired it. And in a little over a year, when my AT&T contract is up, I’ll be that much more anxious to upgrade to the newest iPhone anyway, so that premium payment will go toward only a year’s use.

The second option? Obviously, the $200 price difference is a consideration. But, I’ll be getting a brand-new iPhone 4, and thus a bunch of new features that I didn’t enjoy with the 3GS. It’ll be a true upgrade, which assuages the cost (somewhat). The extension of the AT&T wireless contract isn’t that big a deal to me, so it’s not really factoring into my decision. If anything, having the more-new 4 now might compel me to hang onto it two years later, instead of upgrading to the latest iPhone in 2013; so in that sense, the $399 I spend now would be amortized further.

Sounds like I’ve already made my decision: A step-up to the iPhone 4. Pending results from the resuscitation efforts over this weekend, of course. But it looks like this Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday weekend will complete with me getting a shiny new Apple toy.

UPDATE - Turns out that there was a third option: Getting a replacement 3GS for nada. Which is what I got.

I hedged my bet by stopping at the Genius Bar first, just to cover all the bases. I was sure they’d detect the evidence of water damage right off the bat, and then present the $199 repair/refurbish plan, which I’d turn down in favor of an iPhone 4 re-boot.

They did recognize the water damage (I basically kept my mouth shut beyond “it doesn’t work”). But to my surprise, they granted me a replacement unit anyway, under warranty! Something to do with my clean customer record — apparently some people are serial iPhone killers and keep coming back for free substitutions.

In any case, I’ve got a 3GS again, and it cost me nothing. I’m pretty sure it’s a brand-new one too, and not a refurb: It was handed to me wrapped with that plastic film. The battery, in the early going, seems better too.

Win-win all around. I do have a twinge of regret, though. I was prepared to drop the four hundred bucks for the new 4, and start digging into FaceTime, etc. But I guess I shouldn’t complain about spending zero to get back to zero.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2011 07:21pm
Category: iPhone
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