What the hell have I done to you, Apple?

This is quite an emotional blogpost. Somewhat pathetic. About an experience I would have liked to miss. How to get from a working iphone, which I loved, to a useless, but pricey electronic piece of nothing. Thank you, Apple.

I am sitting here in Mexico City, on holidays. It is 1.22 a.m. and again, I’ve spent hours on the web trying to find what to do to make my iPhone WORK. AGAIN. LIKE IT DID before I went into that Apple store.

It all started with a white screen. Last week on Sunday, my iPhone (3GS, AND new bootrom as I learned today – don’t worry, I won’t bother you with tech stuff. I use Apple because I’m not a nerd. I admire nerds in a way, but I am not keen on reading tech tutorials) displayed a blank screen. Hours later, it added some tiny black vertical lines.

The thing with an iphone is, that, even when it’s broken and useless, it still looks good. Thats what I thought then. Now, a week later, I look at it and all I want to do is cry. What have I done to you, Apple, to deserve this?

I bought the phone in Germany last December. Unlocked, from Italy I guess. I didn’t jailbreak it and don’t want to, in fact. All I want to do is use it. I have operated it with a german O2 postpaid card for six months and all went well.

When the phone started to display the white screen, I found myself in Dallas, Texas, on holidays. So I went to the nearest Apple store to see if they could help. The screen was displaying some palid graphics which could be recognized as the home screen. Anyway, I could not use the phone this way. So I visited the store.

The first two hours, I fell even more in love with Apple. You walk into the store, a friendly guy with an Apple shirt takes down your name and tells you to wait in the store for max. an hour. So I casted myself on the iphone 4, which I hadn’t seen live before. I love it. I looks all grown-up and is easier to hold. The display is very bright and clear, like Samsung’s amoled. I wish I could have taken one home. But forget it, of course it comes locked with AT&T. And I have no idea of jailbreaking and forced unlocking. I feel it’s kinda „dirty“, don’t get me wrong. I am a simple Apple user wanting simplicity and beauty.

After having tested the iphone 4, I played around with the ipad a bit. I like it, but I really don’t know how to hold it. I think I would use it on a table or on my knees and prefer a stable base, as I fear it could slip out of my hands. And I didn’t get the feeling I MUST have it. Of course it’s beautiful and elegant, but I think I prefer my Macbook Pro, on which I am typing this.

After having played around for about 45 mins in the store, the big screens in the back at the helpdesk showed my name. It was my turn. So I talked to a technician and explained that the phone is from Europe but hoping he could help me. He checked the serial number and disappeared with the phone. Five minutes later he came back with it, displaying a perfect screen and a note claiming „0.00 $“. You can imagine the grin on my face. So far, I loved Apple even more. They helped me out quickly and elegantly.

So I purchased something from the store. I said to myself: hey – I didn’t pay for the new display (they simply put a new one in), so I can spend some money on things I ‚really‘ need. I bought a wireless mouse and a travel kit. Happily I wanted to leave the store and tell the world how great Apple is. The grin was still on.

Then, while paying the things I ‚really‘ need, the phone screen went white again. Hmph. I showed it to the guy who was receiving my payment – needless to say that this Apple store did not have a classic cashier. Any Apple guy or girl walking around in the store could bill your purchase. Elegant, indeed.

The new guy went off with my phone, again. They changed the display, again. It worked, again. For two minutes. Then the screen turned white again.

NOW comes the ugly part.  Until here, I was totally in love with Apple.

The guy offered me to give me a new phone in exchange. Well well! First I went: YAY! A new phone after having used it for six months! No scratches, anywhere! I would keep it safe and warm, not in my pocket and not loosely in my handbag! Awesome!

He took a little white box from a drawer and began to unpack the new phone. My heart jumped of joy. For the last time, as I soon would know.

Can you imagine what happened? I couldn’t. But I was to learn quickly.

Of course, the new phone didn’t work with my SIM. The new phone was US, AT&T only. So far, nothing lost. Take out the SIM off the new phone and put it back in my old phone, whose display was working at that moment. Walk out with a million thank yous for trying everything you could, dear Apple guys.

But – what the heck???????? (Imagine a million question marks on my face.) My old phone would not accept my SIM card any more. It said „please insert a valid SIM“, in spite of the fact that I had done exactly that. The same SIM I had used with same phone with for six months.

NOW the thing got bad. The Apple guy explained to me that there was nothing he could do. I would have to check out with my provider, or the store I got the phone from. He could not make it work, nor change it. What the heck…?

He called the manager. Both were friendly, but it was obvious that they could or would not help me. Now –  before I walked into that store I had a working phone with a broken display. Now I had nothing but probably the most expensive ipod touch in the world, with a camera.

I tried to make clear that eventually they made my phone useless, so I was about to leave with far, far less than with what I walked in. They sticked to „we have done all we can“. Yes, and you did far more than you should have, unfortunately.

I am sure that these guys really wanted to help. The guy who offered me the phone didn’t do so in order to upset me. He also offered a backup from my old phone on a mac in the store. (Now I feel worried about that, too. Apple has all my address book, photos, calendar and emails. They are not entitled to use them but I got NO information about what they will do with it. I would have loved to hear or read something like „Apple will NOT use your data and delete it immediately after passing the backup to the new phone“. But I got nothing like this and in the hassle I didn’t ask. I should have.) But I eventually walked out with nothing but a non-working iphone which had worked before, the receipt from the last attempt and a new iphone case  I don’t really need – just because I asked for a little goodie to make me feel less sad. It didn’t help.

Now here’s the last photo I shot with my phone:

The last photo? Yep. Things got even worse when I got back to my room. I tried to restore the phone with iTunes, hoping it would accept the SIM again. What are restores for, if not for these kinds of things? Don’t laugh. Remember? I use Apple for simplicity and elegancy.

After the restore, even the ipod touch was gone. All I have now is this:

I spent half of my last night in Dallas looking for help on the internet. But you can’t solve a problem like this within hours. So I was to start my three-week holiday in Mexico with a useless piece of metal and glass. Cold iphone turkey. From heavy user to nothing within hours. Hard! Jeez, I was looking forward to try my iseismo app out here in Mexico. I was forward to locate my position on google maps while travelling. Yes, I am addicted to my iphone. That’s what they are made for, right? I have everything on it. Adresses. Emails. Photos. Music. Apps for this and apps for that. Currency converter (travelling!). Soccer world cup schedule. Google maps. Guitar Tuner. Travel guides. Dictionary. Games. How can you possibly drop all that within hours, unprepaired? It’s really hard. For me.

Now don’t tell me, „you’re on holidays, take it as a break from daily routine“. Yes, I do. And it helps to relax, in a way, not using it. But what I can’t see is: what was my fault? Who is responsible for this? Will I ever be able to use it again? I paid a lot of money. It’s an Apple product. It’s sold unlocked in Italy. Now I should wait till coming home from my holidays to look after Apple support in Italy? Will they be able to help me? I still don’t have a clue what went wrong. What the Apple guys did. Because ME, I did nothing – except for legally buying an Apple product and asking for help in an Apple store. Now how ridiculous is this? I walk out with a phone that technically works, but Apple locked it and kind of „stole“ it from me?

Epilogue

After thorough research on the web, I found out that

  • I am not the only one. The web is full of threads treating these problems (here, here, here,…)
  • I will have to unlock the phone using procedures with fancy names like sn0wbreeze
  • To unlock it, it seems I HAVE TO jailbreak it (what I never wanted).
  • My phone is too new (week 44/2009) for currently available jailbreak procedures to work, because…
  • I should have saved 3.1.3 SHSH blobs (…don’t ask.)
  • All I can do is wait for some smart hackers to release something that can help me.

And I found this graphic here.

This seems to be the newest tutorial on how to unlock a iOS 4.0 phone, set up by a smart developer named ih8sn0w. He seems to be a kind of hero now. I read the tutorial twice. All I understand is, without SHSH blobs from previous firmware, I can’t use it. And this thread knocked me off my heels:

When will Jailbreak with 3Gs on 4.0 on New bootrom Without SHSH Blobs be available?

ih8sn0w: When a new exploit is public.

How far in the near future are we talking here?
ih8sn0w: About a month or a Month in a half. Either an iBoot exploit or Userland.
Whatever iBoot exploit or Userland means. A month??????
Now, Apple. From shiny-easy-beautiful to developerspeak in zero time. I’m a user, remember? I don’t want to jailbreak anything.
But it seems that those developers, hackers, whatever, are the only ones who can help me restore what was working fine before Apple made me feel its locking policy. The ugly face.
And completely unnecessary. I feel I have absolutely no fault in this. My happy Apple feeling has gone.
I ended up using my old NOKIA N95 again. Can ANY brand afford this? I think, NOT.
But unfortunately, Apple can. I know. Still I can’t believe they have done this to me.

Ein Gedanke zu “What the hell have I done to you, Apple?

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