I just called Apple before returning my iPhone 5s and I was told that an investigation is “in progress” for the accelerometer/gyroscope issues on the iPhone 5s. For me, and other early adopters (read first day buyers) it comes down to a choice:

  • Keep the phone and hope Apple will come up with an acceptable solution.
  • Return the phone within our 30 day return window.

Will Apple have an acceptable solution?

This may not be something that can be fixed with a bumper like the antennae issues. The more I read about it the more it seems this will be largely a hardware calibration issue. It may be resolvable in an Apple store but it also may be due to inferior hardware.

The above linked article shows that the new hardware simply may not be up to previous iPhone standards. A calibration may not correct the problem entirely. If it is the chip itself, Apple will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. This is not all that likely. A combination of software updates and calibration should solve this problem well enough. I say this because my 5s is always off by the same amount. It’s not a question of acceptable precision, it’s a question of acceptable accuracy.

If it’s not fixable via Apple Stores/software what options will Apple have?

  • Pretend like it’s not a big deal – This has not been a great path in the past
  • Offer refunds to anyone who wants one – Basically saying this is normal for an iPhone 5s but if it doesn’t work for you we’ll take it back
  • Do a full recall – A monumental undertaking (and never going to happen)

During the antennae issues, Apple essentially did a combination of 1 and 2. There was no way the iPhone 4 was going back to design stages to correct a fairly inconsequential problem. It was a marketing problem primarily with no substantial call dropping as a result of how you hold the device.

My guess is there is nothing short of a court order that would cause Apple to do a full recall. Even if Apple admitted that the sensor is sub-standard, they will say it’s working within specifications for an iPhone 5s. This will only snow ball more if new production models are corrected. Why should early adopters be punished?

How many iPhones does it affect?

Apple sold 9 million iPhones on the opening weekend. It is estimated that the 5s outsold the 5c by about 2 to 1. Indicating that there are 6 million iPhones from opening weekend alone that may be affected. We are now almost 4 weeks later. I imagine the numbers are pretty high. I know that every iPhone 5s I have come in contact with (about 12 in AT&T & Verizon stores) has the issue. Obviously, it could be certain batches or assembly lines not all of them. 12 is not a large enough sampling to prove anything, but it is worrisome that not one worked right.

The bigger problem is many people don’t know it has a flaw because it only comes out in certain applications. The mainstream news hasn’t picked up on the problem yet so there isn’t a huge PR issue (yet).

What am I going to do?

As I write this post I’m on hold with an Apple support representative. I have been bounced around Apple’s different departments and explained the issue many times. I’ve asked each of them for an extended return window rather than a return. I honestly like a lot of things about the iPhone 5s. I also no longer have an iPhone 5 to fall back on (I’m trying to get it back, but no luck so far).

The bottom line for me is that I’m not willing to lose the power of the return, so it’s going back. I used to buy Apple products exactly because these things didn’t happen. It is truly the end of an era.

Apple has likely lost an early adopter over this. I currently have no excitement for the upcoming event for the new iPads & Mac Pro.