The iPhone 3GS is a rockin’ smartphone in so many ways. Faster performance, upgraded hardware, a full-featured (finally) iPhone OS 3.0 – we almost couldn’t ask for more. That’s why it’s so sad that the iPhone 3GS’s build quality has me singing the “shake, rattle and roll” blues. Some sort of hardware defect has reared its ugly head on many iPhone 3GS’s, leaving them shaking and rattling, literally.
I first noticed the problem during one of my obsessive hardware tests on the iPhone 3GS. When I say “hardware test,” I literally mean I was testing the iPhone 3GS’s hardware build-quality. The iPhone 3GS proved just as solid as the iPhone 3G – no matter how much I twisted, bent or pressed down on the case, the iPhone 3GS’s precision-machined seams stood fast. Then I started tapping away at the iPhone 3GS casing.
A tiny little rattle piqued my ears when I tapped the screen. WTF? I investigated some more by tapping the backside. Another slight rattle, a bit louder this time. I tapped the upper backside (next to the camera lens). Score. I found the source. There’s a rattle coming from just underneath the power button/camera lens area!
Video demo after the break.
No problem. I’ll just take it into the Apple Store and have them replace it with a brand-spankin’ new White 32GB iPhone 3GS. Afterall, my iPhone 3G didn’t exhibit this problem. It’s probably a one-off hardware defect plaguing my particular iPhone 3GS. Right? Wrong.
The iPhone 3GS rattle is a known problem. The Apple Store Genius knew all about my complaint before I was even called from the line (queue, for those of you that think “soccer” is “football”). He confirmed that the iPhone 3GS has some sort of defect that causes it to rattle when tapped. He mentioned something about a loose connection between the power button and some other random component, as well as something about it affecting White 3GS’s more than Black 3GS’s. I’m not so convinced it’s just the White variant (I’ll tell you why in a bit).
The Genius working my case told me it would be futile to replace the iPhone 3GS at the moment, as I had intended to do. I would simply end up with a new iPhone 3GS that rattled just like my original iPhone 3GS. My best bet, said the Genius, was to come back in a couple weeks and hope Apple has issued a fix and ships out updated iPhone 3GS stocks to replace defective units (not verbatim, but his words).
Apple is supposed to be known for their top-notch build- and material-quality. I thought maybe this Genius is screwing with me.
I went through the store, embarrassingly within eye-shot of the Genius that just told me that many 3GS’s were rattling. I proceeded to hold a handful of White and Black iPhone 3GS’s up to my ear, tapping with my other hand. I must have looked slightly crazy to everyone shopping in the store, and just plain stupid to the aforementioned Genius. But, I managed to find a rattle in every 3GS that I tapped.
There’s an Apple Support discussion going on about this very rattle. Some posts point to the looser “silent” switch. Some say the rattling is coming from the vibrator (no, not that kind). Others say it’s the auto-focus mechanism. You might want to check out the discussions on HoFo and MacRumors as well.
Is the rattle a hardware defect? That’s what the Genius led me to believe. He told me that the White 3GS’s are more commonly affected. He even told me there might be a fix soon. On the other hand, the rattle might just be a side-effect of “improved” hardware. Or, as Howard Forums user frikfrak posits, “Could the rattle be the compass?”
What say you, iPhone 3GS users?