iPhone moisture sensors overly sensitive? | iLounge News


iPhone moisture sensors overly sensitive?

A number of iPhone users are reporting problems having their still-warrantied iPhones worked on at Apple Store Genius Bars after their devices’ external moisture sensors are falsely tripped. Techgeist reports that one of their iPhone units exhibited this issue, and after contacting Apple, discovered that the company’s protocol when responding to a customer with a unit that has had its external sensors triggered is to say the warranty is now void and turn the customer away. In addition, the standard protocol is not to open the iPhone in question to look for actual signs of water damage, or to check the internal moisture detectors—neither of which had been triggered on Techgeist’s device. The article goes on to suggest that the only way around this policy is to contact Apple directly and speak with someone high up in the company, who can then instruct Apple’s in-store technicians to open up the phone to check for damage. [via The Consumerist]

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A single drop of water from your wet hands (say after you washed after a trip to the bathroom) in the right place could trigger what is little more than a glorified piece of tissue paper with a spot of dye that spreads when it gets wet without the water ever having reached the internal components nor causing damage. The external indicator should be for one thing and one thing only, a tip to the tech to check the internal sensors. It should never be considered enough by itself to void the warranty.

One more reason to avoid the iPhone in my book. Apple is deliberately implementing a cost savings strategy with full knowledge that some, maybe most, people turned away should actually be covered and counting on most people not having the time to follow up with the much less efficient or organized phone support (and probably giving up after the low level support tech tells them the warranty is voided). They’ve put up two false “your warranty is voided” steps just to weed out the majority of consumers from getting coverage, disgraceful.

Posted by Code Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 11:51 AM (CDT)


If this doesn’t get rectified, it will be a class action lawsuit.

Posted by Charles Farley on September 21, 2009 at 12:04 PM (CDT)


Why is it as soon as someone gets a bit upset in the US they file a class action over it? I mean this might be worth it depending on Apple’s reaction to many people but people see WAY to keen to shout class action.

[Sarcasm On]
My iPHone does not work well in the rain, they did not say that on the box Class action everyone! For my loss of work in the rain I want 1 million dollars! Cue austin powers look.

[end sarscasm]

Posted by Edwin on September 21, 2009 at 12:39 PM (CDT)


@Code Monkey: curious as to why you’d be perusing an iPhone news site if you’re avoiding the iPhone?  Far be it from me to give an evil corporation like Apple the benefit of the doubt, but I’m sure their standard protocol is to weed out those who dropped their phone in the toilet and then say “oh, no, it’s never even been out of the house when it was raining!”  If someone’s lying about the reason their phone’s not working, they won’t put a lot of effort into trying to get it fixed for free.  However, an honest person WILL call corporate to get it fixed.  Unfortunately, the reality of the world is that most people aren’t honest.

@Edwin: because they think someone other than the lawyers wins in class actions.  Let’s say this was made into a class action, I can guess immediately what the outcome would be should it be won: every person named in the suit would get an iTunes gift card worth $5 and the lawyers would walk away with $50 million for their hard work.  Apple will have to recoup those losses, so the next gen iPhone will be $599 instead of $399.  But, hey, at least APPLE learned their lesson, right? :)

Posted by Tony Karakashian on September 21, 2009 at 2:05 PM (CDT)


Tony, I don’t think you’re getting Code Monkey’s point. He is not suggesting that all iPhones with triggered moisture sensors should be serviced, but rather that Apple should check the phone further to determine if there is indeed water damage, as the sensors seem to be very faulty. And I deeply disagree that a honest person will call corporate to get it fixed, as most people don’t know what to do after they’ve been denied service by Apple. Apple should implement an extra step of having the service “genius” check the iPhone for water damage. Sure, might take more time or need more staff, but it is not a cheap product they’re selling, and they should assure that service is given to whoever is eligible, and not making conclusions by looking at some piece of paper that turned red.

Posted by Cask on September 21, 2009 at 3:08 PM (CDT)


@Tony, sorry, you’re acting like a typical Apple fanboy here.

They have internal moisture sensors precisely because the external one doesn’t work anywhere in the neighborhood of 100%. It is probably a false positive at least as often as it’s not; again, that’s why there are the internal sensors that prove moisture actually reached the internal components. It’s purely meant to be an indicator that water damage may have occurred. It’s supposed to go like this: tech peers inside dock connector and sees colored sensor, he spends three minutes tops popping off the chassis, examining the internal sensors, and replacing the chassis. Three minutes tops, probably faster for people who do it all the time. Then the customer either leaves with his replacement or he correctly is informed this device went in the drink and your warranty doesn’t cover trips to the toilet.

You are somehow claiming that it is reasonable for Apple to save a few minutes of technician time, and only a few minutes, to turn away 100% of people with the external sensor tripped as a matter of policy. A customer who has, even in the best case scenario of living next door to an Apple store, already invested more of their time to make the Genius appointment in the first place.

It’s not reasonable, it’s detestable. If I knew I hadn’t gotten the device anywhere close to wet and they’re telling me, after I already called the store, made the appointment, drove 15 miles to the nearest Apple store, that my warranty is voided, that is wrong. That you are then, on your own initiative, expected to spend upwards of an hour on the phone playing “pass the tech” until maybe, just maybe, you find the one who will contact the nearest Apple store so their technician will spend the three minutes they should have in the first place, is merely further insult.

Don’t try and turn the victim into the criminal here, because I ain’t buying it.

As for why I follow this stuff: gods forbid there is such a thing as an informed consumer.

Posted by Code Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 3:17 PM (CDT)


@Tony again: um, this isn’t an iPhone news site by the way. Guess that goes hand in hand with your general confusion about who’s getting ripped off in the above story.

Posted by Code Monkey on September 21, 2009 at 3:19 PM (CDT)


I had an issue with my phone and sent it in too Apple only to get a technician saying my warranty is void because of the litmus paper turning pink. I took a minute to think what could have done this and said it was the Invisible shield that I had applied. Since you have to spray a liquid on the invisible shield to apply it to your device some of that liquid got into the phone and caused the paper to change color. I actually spent 20 good minutes trying to talk them out of it and got them to reverse the 200 dollar charge for a new phone and got 25 bucks back from invisible shield without returning the old invisible shield…so in all lesson learned!

Posted by mr.liv on September 21, 2009 at 4:55 PM (CDT)


“Why is it as soon as someone gets a bit upset in the US they file a class action over it? “

If Apple refuses to provide warranty work based on faulty indicators and stands by their position…someone will make it actionable.

For the prices Apple charges and margins they receive, you would think they would put good sensors on their products?!?

Posted by Charles Farley on September 21, 2009 at 5:44 PM (CDT)


“you would think they would put good sensors on their products?!?”

To be fair, there’s not much else they can do as far as the sensors themselves go. You stick some filter paper pieces with a moisture sensitive dye in various locations or you do something like put an onboard hygrometer that writes encrypted logs of the internal relative humidity constantly to a internal flash chip that functions as a black box. The first solution, assuming Apple doesn’t do something stupid like this story references, is cost effective and will be accurate in the vast majority of circumstances. It’s still not full proof, but it’s the best compromise we’re going to find between the interests of a corporation and the interests of their consumers. When the external is used as an indicator as it was intended and doesn’t void the warranty automatically, the system works. The second solution is going to drive up costs and won’t necessarily be more reliable (now instead of the person who might have got a smidge too much liquid in the device when they applied a skin or the person who has a stereo dock inside a very steamy bathroom and winds up turned away for an arguably false positive, now you get people turned away because the hygrometer failed near the time of the general device failure and that’s considered evidence of submersion).

Posted by Code Monkey on September 22, 2009 at 10:59 AM (CDT)


But they do put sensors in all their products. The sensors aren’t to sensitive the problem is the housing on the iPhones. What they need to do is stop being so “cheap” on the housing and make it more tight and less gaps. It is VERY easy to take of the iPhone’s front plate once the two screws are removed. Also to avoid this I’d make sure your hands are dry before even touching it. Also don’t put the spray on the device put it on the film and a little bit as possible.

Posted by Mattie Gee on September 22, 2009 at 11:20 AM (CDT)


People are so stupid.  In class action law suits, the only ones that get any money are the lawyers.  Affected customers only get a few cents each.

Posted by JOG on September 23, 2009 at 8:47 AM (CDT)


In Apple’s defense, I had an iPhone where one of the little pins inside the docking mechanism somehow got bent out of shape, so that the iphone would not charge properly on certain dock devices, like radio and speaker systems “made for iphone.” It happened in the first week I got my phone, as I was shopping around to find which dock system I liked best. When I finally figured out the problem was my phone, and not the devices (which my wife’s iphone worked normally with), I went in to the Apple store to complain.

The technician discovered the bent pin with a magnifying glass, and explained that such damage was not covered under warranty. But then he went back to show it to his boss, and they covered it anyway.

Thanks, Apple!

People can do pretty stupid things to their toys, then want to blame somebody else, and lawyers are more than too happy to help them blame the “deep pockets greedy capitalists” and take a huge cut of the loot. Time for tort reform!

Posted by StephenMaturin on September 26, 2009 at 8:56 AM (CDT)


Honestly, I don’t know people keep buying these products.  I guess the “me too” crowd has enough numbers to keep this company going…...

Posted by Chuck Martin on October 15, 2009 at 4:04 AM (CDT)


Throw your iPhones in the trash! Quit buying them!

Then Apple can finally get back to making computers instead of disposable iCrap.

Posted by Leslie Bell on October 15, 2009 at 4:13 AM (CDT)


I’m not a “me too” person. I don’t even like Macs. However, being someone constantly on the go, and constantly in need of web access, I find the iPhone to be beyond efficient. As with ALL computers and other tech equipment, there are always going to be ‘bugs’, and MOST companies create warranties that are extremely limited, regardless of how they are explained. MOST companies hope you will never cash in on a warranty, and if they deny your coverage, they count on the majority not to follow up or complain further. It is unfortunate, but it does not take away from the usefulness I have found in this product.

Posted by GinaSue on October 15, 2009 at 12:41 PM (CDT)

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