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There is a well-documented design and/or materials defect in at least some iPhone 5 devices that causes the sleep/wake button (sometimes also referred to as the "lock" button or "power" button) to stop working reliably.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] My iPhone 5, purchased the day after they initially became available, was just replaced yesterday due to this problem.

My question is, has Apple fixed the underlying issue in newer devices leaving the factory?

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From an n=3 approach, a few people I know (myself included) have had the iPhone 5 for about 5 months or less now and we've seen no problems with the power button. –  Wolph Apr 15 '13 at 1:26
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From what I can see the question as stated can only be answered by Apple. Everybody else will just throw in his/her opinions and rumors. –  patrix Apr 15 '13 at 17:05
    
@patrix Edited to ask if there is publicly available information. I expect the answer is no. –  Daniel Lawson Apr 15 '13 at 17:58
    
@patrix Isn't it possible that someone here might be able to point to an Apple resource that has the answer? –  Dan Moulding Apr 16 '13 at 14:00
    
Theoretically yes, but as both Mike and Daniel have written below it's very unlikely. That's why we tend to close off this kind of question as "not constructive" because most feedback will be based on opinions and not on facts. Daniel tried to focus the question a bit by adding the part about "publicly available information" but this was edited out again leading us back to the initial problem. –  patrix Apr 16 '13 at 14:28

5 Answers 5

Apple have not announced any changes in their manufacturing process, nor do they seem to think they have a quality control problem.

Consequently, you do not have any reason to believe that new iPhone 5 units should be more or less reliable than ones they made in the past. If you were happy with their products before, there is no reason to expect you should not continue to be so; if you found their process unreliable before, you have no reason to expect things to be better now.

There's always a chance anyone could get a bad unit, in which case your satisfaction with their customer service policies would then be what matters.

Lots of us think they're making their phones quite well, but if you're dissatisfied, they haven't given any reason for you to think they've changed anything, so maybe you'd be happier with a different product.

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You seem to have the idea that I'm dissatisifed. I never said that. I'm not at all dissatisfied with Apple or the iPhone. I've owned (still do, actually) five different iPhones from 3G through the 5. I've been happy with them all. I'm just trying to find out if this particular problem has been solved. I understand that products sometimes have imperfections. I'm not going to abandon Apple over this one (relatively minor) flaw. That said, I'm not sure this answers the question. I'm looking for an objective answer; e.g. "Yes, here is a teardown that shows a redesigned button ..." etc. –  Dan Moulding Apr 16 '13 at 13:14

I would say the documented issues are anecdotal from the references you have provided. Even if I'm wrong and there is a widespread problem with QC/materials, what problem are you attempting to solve? If your current device works, there's no problem. If your device fails - you take it in for service. Put plainly, no one here has sufficient data to predict how reliable any one phone may be with the variables known to be at play.

This would be like asking if a tire manufacturer has fixed the "flat tire problem" and sharing experiences where someone felt that a tire of a certain brand or price should have lasted over some short tacks and not flatted.

As a consumer, you have the choice to self-insure and risk that you will have to pay for a repair once the manufacturer warranty expires. You can also sign up for extended coverage and protection (and the cost, convenience, and coverage details of those plans vary widely around the globe), so you can control for replacement costs without knowing which factory made your phone, what QC processes may or may not have been in place and whether the people working that shift did their job or did not do their job.

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"If your current device works, there's no problem." You are assuming that the answer to my question is, "Yes." –  Dan Moulding Apr 16 '13 at 0:00
    
Actually, I'm not assuming the answer is yes, no or even knowable today. What failure rate are you reporting/theorizing? Apple sold 47.8 million phones last quarter so a failure rate of 1/10 of 1% would be just under 50,000 failures. I just don't see any evidence that there's an issue in the first place, but I remain open to data that shows otherwise. –  bmike Apr 16 '13 at 2:46
    
I'm not reporting a failure rate. Are you suggesting that I must have the results from systematic scientific evaluation before I may come to the conclusion that there is a problem and that all these reported failures, which are strikingly similar, are related? The Genius at the Apple Store told me that he had personally seen this failure numerous times. That's from an Apple employee whose job it is to handle these types of problems. What more do you want from me? I just want to know if my solution is truly a "fix" or it it's merely a "workaround"? Is that so terrible? –  Dan Moulding Apr 16 '13 at 10:37
    
From my experience with other SE sites, I've found that SE is the place where I can ask the tough to answer questions and have a chance of getting a good answer. But here, from you, rather than a good answer I've met nothing but hostility (especially your earlier comments that are now deleted). Mike, you've made me feel quite unwelcome here, and I have to say I don't understand why. I'm not trying to attack Apple. I'm not trying to attack their product quality. I'm happy with Apple. I'm happy with my iPhone. I'm just trying to understand the nature of the problem I've just experienced. –  Dan Moulding Apr 16 '13 at 10:42
    
I'll make a chat room where we can discuss deleted comments and whatever else you wish. As you see, comments get regularly deleted - especially when a question is edited and they no longer fit with the latest version of the post. –  bmike Apr 16 '13 at 11:38
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, Apple has fixed this problem.

Apple has acknowledged the problem and is offering to repair devices that were manufactured with this defect. According to Apple, iPhone 5 models manufactured through March 2013 may be affected by the defect. You can go to Apple's support site to see if your device qualifies for repair and, if it does, to get instructions for how to get your phone repaired.

So if you have an iPhone 5 with a failing sleep/wake button, put the device's serial number into the form on Apple's sleep/wake button replacement program page to find out if you can get your device repaired free-of-charge.

Note that the device must have a qualifying serial number and must actually be exhibiting the problem to qualify for repair. I have an iPhone 5 device that was given to me in mid-April 2013 as a replacement for an early iPhone 5 device that suffered the sleep/wake button failure after about 6 months of use. The sleep/wake button on the replacement iPhone 5 has worked now for over a year and is not experiencing the failure. Even though I put the device's serial number into the form on Apple's sleep/wake button replacement program page and it indicated that my replacement device is eligible for repair, it probably won't actually qualify for repair because the button is working just fine. But it's nice to know that, should my current device also experience this failure in 6 to 12 months, Apple will repair it even though the device is otherwise out-of-warranty.

Some other caveats to note (from the replacement program page):

Apple may restrict or limit repair to the original country of purchase.

Your iPhone 5 must be in working order to qualify for this program.

If you believe you have paid for a replacement due to this issue, contact Apple regarding a refund.

This worldwide Apple program does not extend the standard warranty coverage of the iPhone.

The program covers iPhone 5 models for 2 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

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They declined replacing it for me. See this. –  Neeku Aug 5 at 13:55

As someone who is also a Genius at an apple store I won't say it's a 'known problem' or a 'well documented problem'. I've seen sleep wake buttons fail on every phone out of box and this is no different, just like you could be unfortunate enough to have a phone that doesn't turn on out of the box.

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Very interesting you say that. I'm sure there are plenty of FRS and Genius who would disagree with you... –  David Pearce Apr 17 '13 at 12:38

The "Sleep/Power/Lock" button is definitely not reliable.

I've had my iPhone 5 since March 2013 and now it's not working consistently. Also, I went to the Apple service center and another person was leaving his for repair. The service guys told me basically that it is my fault. What!? I've got zero scratches, dents, and the button is pristine clean. I have to leave my phone for repair for two weeks. My other phones of other brands (HTC and Samsung) no problems in years, even Nokia doesn't suffer these problems.

Checking online about this issue, turns out that the manufacturing fault (due to an ultra-delicate component, perhaps) is present since iPhone4. Come on Apple?

I have MacBook Pro 15" Retina, iPods (about 6 of them) I love apple products, but they are irritating their fan base with this.

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