Apple Genius replaces smashed iPhone in a jiffy

It was a horrible moment, watching my precious iPhone 4 tumble out of my pocket towards a concrete floor.

I'd had it since launch day. I'd queued for hours outside the Milton Keynes Apple Store, oblivious to the unsympathetic sneers of passers by, despite having reserved my new gadget weeks before.

I even unsuccessfully played the "I'm a journalist" card, waving my credentials in the face of the stoic queue Nazi. He was having none of it. I could have whipped out a Pulitzer. It wouldn't have got me any closer to the front of the line.

As anyone who has reads THINQ on a regular basis will know, I am an unashamed Apple fanboy. I think the Cupertino company makes the best hardware in the world and, for all of his flaws, consider Steve Jobs to be an utter genius. Likewise British industrial designer Johnathan Ive.

I've used Macs for business and pleasure throughout my adult life, my house is like a shrine to all things Apple and, apart from the kitchen and the kharzi, every room has a Mac of one flavour or another. A Mac Pro in my office, an iMac in my partner's, an iBook in the bedroom and a Mac Mini hooked up to the big screen TV in the living room.

That's not to mention the veritable Mac graveyard that is my attic, let's just say I could open an Apple museum without too much effort.

I have owned just about every iteration of the iPod, and my current iPhone 4 is my third Apple handset.

Having lived with the gorgeously stroke-able slab of steel and glass for a few months now, it has become an indispensable tool and I'm not ashamed to say that I'd be utterly lost without it.

Watching it spin in slow motion towards the floor made me feel physically sick at the time, and still turns my stomach just a little thinking about it now.

I'm not ashamed to admit that, when I picked it up, having landed face down, I closed my eyes before I turned it over to survey the damage.

Despite having fallen from less than 18 inches as I lowered myself into my ridiculously low-slung mid-life-crisis mobile, the front screen was shattered at the point of impact on the bottom left corner. Two long snaking cracks also followed the full width of the handset.

I nearly cried.

Not least because I am normally so careful with my precioussss. I would no more put my iPhone in the same pocket as my keys than I would put a toddler in a tiger's cage. The fact that the handset was out if its Bumper case was purely down to the fact that the charger I have in my car doesn't fit securely when the gadget is cosseted in its overpriced rubber band.

The first thing I did having returned home with my injured freind was to get on the Internet and Google iPhone 4 repairs. There are dozens of UK companies out there willing to have a crack at repairing the glass cover, but because the glass and the didgitiser are glued together in Apple's Chinese assembly plants, you can't replace the glass alone. Costs ranged from £110 for a cheap knock-off replacement to around £160 for a genuine Apple part.

Once again proving what a sad act I am, I decided I would prefer not to stick my iPhone into a Jiffy bag and entrust it to the postie, electing instead to take it back to the Apple Store in Milton Keynes and allow properly-trained Apple techs carry out the repair. I was pretty sure it would cost me a few quid more but, as with all things Apple, you get what you pay for.

I booked an appointment with an "Apple Genius" (God, it makes me cringe just typing that... what must it be like for them) and toddled off to MK on a bright Saturday afternoon to visit the shrine of Apple.

I waited a good 20 minutes beyond my allocated 1pm slot along with a growing number of equally disgruntled punters, until my name was finally called. Mike came to greet me. Mike was about 12. Mike almost certainly wasn't born when I brought my first Mac. Mike wouldn't understand.

I told the blue-shirted teen my tale of woe, explaining the shortness of the fall, and my car charger dilemma. Mike understood. He then went off to have a word with his supervisor, disappearing through the giant aluminium door into the store's inner sanctum.

Returning five excruciatingly long minutes later, Mike beamed from ear to ear, carrying a small plastic box and some paperwork.

"We've decided on this occasion to replace your phone", he said, explaining the grin. "Obvioulsy the transaction will be recorded, and this is a one-time deal only," he explained, adding," I'd suggest you get some insurance for this one."

So, I am now the proud owner of a brand new iPhone 4. After a quick re-install form the latest iTunes back-up, I am up and running with all of my settings and apps restored to their former glory.

Now some of you cynical buggers will bandy about conspiracy theories about flawed design, and suggest the Apple is replacing broken phones in order to divert another PR nightmare, but I'm more of a trusting soul.

I'm chalking this one up to good old fashioned customer service, and I'm sticking to my theory just like I'll be sticking to Apple products in the future.

Cheers Steve! (And you Mike).

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