My 9th iPhone in Less Than 3 Years

Late last week I got my eighth and ninth iPhone.  I bought an iPhone the first day they went on sale back in 2007, an iPhone 3G the next summer and an iPhone 3GS last year. The other six were replacements for bad apples.

My most recent visit to the Apple store was prompted by a bad camera sensor. Starting about a week ago, my the view through my iPhone’s camera looked like it had a red filter on the lens. The above photo is the last one that I took with iPhone number seven.

I made an appointment to meet with a Genius at the Palo Alto Apple Store.The Genius offered to swap out my iPhone 3GS for a remanufactured one. While he was activating my new iPhone 3GS he told me about how remanufactured iPhones get new batteries and are meticulously inspected.

A few minutes later I was out the door and got in my car. I tried to sync my new iPhone 3GS with my car so I could call my wife, but the Bluetooth connection kept failing.  I dialed her number and held the iPhone to my ear. I immediately noticed a hum, similar to the 60Hz hum you hear when fiddling with home audio equipment. When she answered my call she couldn’t hear me, but I could hear her. I tried a second and third time with the same results. I tried calling my dad and it was clear that he couldn’t hear me.

I went right back to the Apple store.  After waiting for about 10 minutes spoke to the Genius who helped me the first time. He confirmed that my 8th iPhone was a dud and replaced it with what would be my 9th iPhone.

I have mixed feelings about getting two new iPhones within half an hour. I felt relieved that I had a fully functioning phone and appreciated the friendly service I received. On the other hand, what’s up with Apple’s meticulous inspection process? I’ve had a total of six replacement iPhones in less than two years and eight months of ownership. The first-gen iPhone was the buggiest and I was treated to three replacements. I think a new phone on average of every 3.5 months is a pretty poor track record by any measure.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my iPhones. I don’t think I’ve ever had a device (or series of devices) fail on me with such regularity. On the other hand, I really enjoy the iPhone’s UI and ecosystem.

My biggest frustration has been lackluster voice and 3G performance, but these regular trips to the Genius bar are starting to wear me down. The Geniuses I’ve dealt with have generally been very helpful.

iPhone buyers are generally required to sign up for a two-year AT&T contract, but the iPhone’s warranty is only good for a year. I don’t think it should be too much to expect hardware to last longer than a few months if we’re expected to have it for the length of the contract.

I haven’t run into an out-of-warranty repair since I’ve opted to upgrade to a new model for each of the past two years, but I’m sure that many people are. In fact, a lady that was next to me at the Genius Bar last week was told that her iPhone couldn’t be replaced because it was 15 months old.

In January I picked up a T-Mobile SIM card to use with my old Blackberry Pearl so I could place and receive calls when I couldn’t with my iPhone. I guess I should pick up a more robust smartphone to stand in for my next iPhone hardware failure.

You can read about how a lemon MacBook Pro was replaced after failing three times a little over a year ago at over at

Have you ever had to deal with so many returns on a single device or series of devices like this? Or do I have an Apple curse?