Repair Needed: iPhone Cannot Make or Receive Calls [updated]

It’s the iPhone dialog box you’ve hopefully never seen before: “Repair Needed. iPhone cannot make or receive calls. http://www.apple.com/support” If it had happened only once this week to someone I’d bought an iPhone for, I would have totally written it off. But twice? What are the odds?

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My wife has been traveling for the past week and a half, and had this message come up on her after several days of iPhone flakiness, in which the phone’s ringer stopped working, then the phone failed altogether. Her experience? She’s lucky enough to be in a city with an Apple Store, where though it wasn’t convenient to give up part of her day for the appointment, the unit was replaced on the spot. Not bad at all. Her only complaint: she lost her photos and other content that hadn’t been synchronized to her computer.

Yesterday, a friend who’s visiting from out of town told me that his iPhone—bought by me for him as a gift—wasn’t holding a charge properly. Last night, the phone said that it needed to be reactivated in iTunes. Then the battery completely died. When it was recharged, the Repair Needed screen came up. “Have I lost all my photos?” he wondered. I suggested that he sync with his Mac and find out. Though iTunes wouldn’t work—he got a message saying that “the SIM card is not installed”—iPhoto saw his pictures and let him pull them off, which would have been good for my wife to know: you can try to recover the iPhone’s contents before taking it in. My friend’s appointment with the local Apple Store is today, so we’ll see how that goes.

 

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A few points: neither of these phones was ever (and I mean ever) Jailbreaked, modified, or attempted to be Jailbreaked or modified. Both were upgraded from Apple’s own iTunes updater from software version 1.0 to 1.0.1 to 1.0.2 and 1.1.1. The first one was purchased and activated in the first week of the iPhone’s release, which is to say that it was around 3.5 months old when it failed. The second one was delivered roughly a month after the iPhone was released, which is to say that it was 2.5 months old. Neither one was misused or mishandled. And both my wife and my friend have mid-line Core 2 Duo Apple MacBook computers, which they were using for charging around the time the iPhones experienced problems.

I know that these people aren’t the first two to see this error message; readers, have you experienced this, and under what sort of conditions?

[Update: We visited an Apple Store, which rapidly replaced the iPhone. Overheard during the repair: as of 11:30AM, 6 iPhones had apparently been replaced today with similar symptoms. Sounds like a 1.1.1 firmware problem to me.]

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