Apple offers free fix for iPhone 5 sleep/wake button issues

Some kind of issue with the iPhone 5 has caused some users' sleep/wake buttons to not work anymore. That's a bit of a bummer for those who are trying to use their devices in any meaningful way, we realize. Apple realizes as well, for the company has just launched a new program that will allow the "small percentage" of those affected by this issue to have their phones repaired by Apple free of charge.

The fix-it program, which went live yesterday in the US and Canada (2 May, everywhere else), is pretty simple. You first have to enter your device's serial number at a website that Apple has specially set up for those dealing with this issue. Once you qualify — and we're not quite sure what criteria Apple is looking for in the "verify serial number" process — then you'll be able to drop your phone off at your nearest Apple Repair Center to have it fixed.

The caveat? This isn't a walk in, walk out kind of a deal. You'll be without your iPhone 5 for anywhere from four to six days as the Apple crew fixes it up. You'll also want to back up your data prior to starting the repair process, suggests Apple, and you'll need to erase all of the content and settings on your device. Additionally, don't expect that Apple will just take your broken phone and swap it out for a brand-new device.

"Note: If your iPhone 5 has any damage such as a cracked screen which impairs the replacement of the sleep/wake button, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the sleep/wake button replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair," reads Apple's site.

Those who cannot bear to be without a smartphone for the short amount of time can pick up a "loaner" iPhone from participating Apple Retail Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers. We recommend that you don't drop it.

Additionally, those who don't want to lug their smartphone over to an Apple Repair Center can also elect the "mail it in" option. Those that do will be provided a postage-paid box from Apple directly. Drop in the smartphone, ship it off to the Apple Repair Center, and wait for it to be returned via mail. Easy as pie, assuming that your device passes the Apple examination that the smartphone will receive "to verify that it is eligible for this program and is otherwise in working order," reads Apple's site.