Bringing my iPhone back to life

Over the past few months, I've been dealing with an extremely frustrating issue. My iPhone would say that it had 50%, 75% or even 90% battery life left. Yet, sometimes when I would open an app, the iPhone screen would go black. If I would press the wake button, an empty charging battery would come onto the screen indicating that my battery was dead and needed to be charged. Generally, after a few minutes of trying, I would be able to get the phone to start again and it would clearly state that I still had significant battery life remaining. If I plugged the dead iPhone into my MacBook via USB, it would eventually start up again as well. This issue would always occur when I was actively trying to do something, like take a picture or check into FourSquare, so it was very frustrating. Worse, it started to happen more and more frequently and it would take longer and longer to get the phone to start up again.

I tried two or three different apps for battery performance and system monitoring but nothing worked.

I assumed that it was the battery dying. I'm hard on rechargeable batteries. I never want my devices to be without a charge so I'm always plugging them into chargers whenever possible. I understand that, ideally, you would let your device battery go down to nothing and then give it a full charge at least once a month, but I rarely do that.

I started to look into replacing my battery. i did a Google search and found a number of "battery replacement kits." I didn't like the sound of that. Why did I need an entire kit just to replace the battery? That's when I found one of the many YouTube videos describing how you can replace your iPhone battery yourself. It's, um, complicated, to say the least.

West County Apple StoreSo, that's when I went to Apple.com. I found that battery replacement is a standard procedure that costs $79. Fortunately, there are two Apple stores within easy driving distance so I made an appointment at the West County Apple Store for Sat., Oct. 15th.

Yes. I deliberately went to an Apple store the day after a new iPhone was released. Probably not the best timing.

We drove down, picked up some lunch at the mall's food court, and got to the Apple store 15 minutes before my appointment. It was packed, to say the least. Customers will still lined up outside, waiting to be told that they could enter the store and pick up their new iPhone 4S. Inside, many were walking around checking out the iMacs, iPods and MacBooks while getting their new iPhones set up. An Apple employee was stationed at the door with an iPad and inquired what brought me there. I stated that I had an appointment for the Genius Bar and he found my name on his calendar and told me to go straight back and check in. I found another employee in the back of the store who checked me in and asked me to please wander around and check things out, and that someone would find me when it was time.

Near my appointment time, an employee found me and I explained my problem. She was confident that it was a corruption in the operating system. I explained that I had upgraded to iOS5 the week before and that process had included a restore, but she said that in an upgrade instance, it's not a full restore of the phone's software. She took the phone to back, performed the restore of iOS in 8 minutes, and brought it back out to me. Fortunately, thanks to the new iCloud, I had a backup available to download from just that morning that included all my apps and data. I walked out the front of the store and was waiting out front, while still on Apple's WiFi so I could download my apps, when the iPhone crashed again.

I returned to the store, put myself back into the queue again, and waited for another employee. A few minutes later another employee came up and listened to my problem. He agreed that I needed a new battery, gave me my options, and took my phone into the back to take care of it. Moments later he returned. Instead of replacing the battery, he simply replaced my phone. I received a brand new iPhone 3GS that had my SIM card installed and was ready to proceed through the setup process. I answered the same setup questions I saw when I upgraded to iOS5 and then proceeded to restore my backup from iCloud.

This time, everything worked great. I didn't have time to hang out around Apple to download all my apps, and that has to occur over a WiFi connection, so I didn't get all my apps back until I got home. I was able to check email though and get online right away, and even my music and ringtones were right there where I expected them.

While my old iPhone was in great shape because I had installed Ghost Armor as soon as I got it, it was still cool to get a brand new phone. With the new battery and the complete iOS restore, the new phone runs faster and is certainly more stable than what I had been dealing with. Despite the deluge of new customers buying iPhone 4S units, I was treated professionally and as promptly as could be expected. My first dealing with Apple support was flawless and impressive.