Overall I’m a pretty big fan of Apple. The first time I powered on a Macbook I instantly got what “It just works” meant. I guess this is kind of an inside thing. Something that you will probably only understand if you’re also a member of Club Apple. Maybe also something that you’ll need to have experienced the horrors of early PC’s to truly understand. Anyway, for me Apple devices have “just worked” very well, or at least they did, up until Autumn 2015.
My relationship with Apple started to become strained around that time for the following reason. I rather foolishly updated to the latest iOS of the day — iOS 9. The problems started almost instantly from there. I almost immediately noticed that the battery of my iPhone 5 wasn’t staying charged for more than an hour. Frighteningly, when charging the device from then on, it would become dangerously hot — literally too hot to touch. Soon after charging the battery would deplete to zero. The device had effectively been rendered unusable.
To be fair I’d done well by Apple up until that point. They’d completely changed computing for me — turning it from a negative chore to a fun experience, whatever the task, thanks to their awesome hardware and software. This was also my second iPhone 5 as the original had been replaced under warranty after nearly a year of use due to a recall on a faulty sleep / power button. Ironically that issue wasn’t even that bad but, needless to say, I was thrilled to get a free new phone almost a year after purchasing the original.
I guess this amazing experience to date contributed to how badly I felt when I tried to resolve the then presenting battery issue. Suffice it to say that the conversations around that issue went around in circles and, needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of time to keep chasing around like that. Eventually I decided that even though this device was only 9 or 10 months old, that I’d done pretty well because the original device I bought was paid for almost two years ago so I didn’t really feel that I was owed anything. So i capitulated and upgraded to a 6s.
The 6s was well worth the upgrade. The larger screen size (which I didn’t think I needed) turned out to be of fantastic value. The ability to record video in 4K was really exciting too — the first time this was possible on an iPhone. I largely forgot about my poor old iPhone 5 until I decided to power it on one day to see was it still alive and if so, was it still experiencing those weird power issues. Much to my amazement, not only was it still alive, (after another upgrade to iOS 9.whatever) it was capable of functioning as normal — well at least as normally as on older device could perform. The battery life wasn’t great but it no longer overheated when charging and it was possible to get a good few hours out of it before it had to be recharged.
At the time I had mixed emotions about this discovery. It’s resurrection evoked mixed emotions. At first I was happy to have a ‘b’ phone — always handy to have especially if using phone’s as photography / videography tools. I was also happy with the extra screen real-estate of the 6s, especially for editing, not to mention the memory upgrade form 64 to 128GB. There was one thing gnawing away at the back of my mind though and that was the fact that I couldn’t help but feel that I’d been duped into upgrading by what appears to in hindsight have been a known bug that Apple were subsequently able to resolve.
Flash forward to Winter 2017 and suddenly, crash bang wallop, my iPhone 6s starts to inexplicably power down at random times… The most annoying thing about this issue was that not only was it a known problem, I only found out that there was a battery replacement programme *after* I had just paid out for one of their battery cases!! The girl at the Apple reseller literally only decided to mention this while handing me the receipt.
Ok so maybe this was an unfortunate coincidence but it resulted in a really terrible customer experience. Why couldn’t she have mentioned it as I approached the till to double check if I was aware of this issue before buying the case?! To be honest about it I probably still would’ve bought the case eventually but I would’ve felt so much better about the experience rather than being left feeling fiddled, yet again.
Rock forward another year and Apple have finally admitted that they were slowing down some older phones as well as negatively effecting the battery lives of others thanks to iOS updates. In my instance, now both my same 6s and it’s battery case combined are now only lasting for a few hours. Thankfully I discovered during the week that Apple are not only finally offering an affordable (€29) battery replacement programme for all users, they also appear to have opened up this offer to include devices which had previously had free battery replacements under the “unexpected shutdown” recall programme.
It’s funny but when it’s been explained to me that phone batteries only last so long and some may need to be replaced how cool I can be with that. Especially when it’s only going to cost me €29 and I know it will be done properly (through Apple or an authorised agent) and by someone who is probably not likely to steal my data. It’s the not knowing and feeling forced into buying a new phone or possibly unnecessary peripheral that’s the real killer. In fact, other than this power issue, I’m still so happy with my 6s that I am most probably going to opt for this paid replacement over the next couple of weeks.
The moral of the story? Things break and technology fails. This is expected and most people are pretty understanding about it. What’s completely unacceptable is trying to cover up any breakages or failures. Dishonesty destroys relationships — simple as that. Worse still, dishonesty in a longer term relationship can be all the more hurtful and more difficult to unravel. As for Apple or any other tech company in this position my advice is come clean as early as possible. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will be to move forward if you can be honest with your customers especially your loyal community and fans!
What do you guys think? Have you ever had any similar experiences with technology or brands? How have those situations been handled and how did you feel? Let me know in the comments bellow!