Whose Fault Is This?

Yesterday evening, I was lying in bed listening to an audiobook. It was playing on my iPhone, and I was listening on my AirPods. Suddenly, the audiobook stopped. I picked up my iPhone, and saw that it was still playing. It took a few seconds for me to think of checking where the audio was going. When I did, I found that it was sending the audio to my car.

My partner had just gotten home, and parked the car by the side of the house; on the same side as the bedroom. The car would have been about 10m from where I was, roughly the limit of Bluetooth transmission.

But why did the iPhone switch? It knew I was listening on the AirPods; why did it think I wanted to listen in the car?

I don’t know which device – the car or the iPhone – caused this, but it’s wrong. The iPhone shouldn’t switch audio without an alert, or a dialog asking if I want to switch.

How to Check if iPhone is New, Refurbished, or Replacement – OS X Daily

If you’re buying a used iPhone or repairing an iPhone, you may wonder if you can find out if the iPhone was bought as new, is a refurbished model, or is a replacement device provided by Apple via a service request.

Wonder no more, you can use an interesting device model identifier trick to discover if an iPhone is new, refurbished, a replacement, or even personalized by engraving. This can be helpful information for buyers of used devices, if you’ve received a device as a gift or hand-me-down, if you’re troubleshooting or repairing an iPhone, and more.

The article points out that there are four different letter codes that indicate which type of device you have:

  • M – Brand new device, meaning the device was purchased new
  • F – Refurbished device, meaning the device has been through refurbishing process
  • N – Replacement device, meaning the originally bought device was replaced by this model likely due to a service request
  • P – Personalized device with engraving, meaning the device was customized with an engraving on purchase

Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if an N – a replacement device – was new or refurbished. Apple replaced my iPhone SE late last year, and it is an N, but I was curious if it was a truly new device or a refurb.

This said, a couple of people who posted comments to the article say that they have engraved devices but that their identifier is M, so this isn’t perfect. Perhaps there’s something about the engraving process that means that some devices don’t get the correct model number.

Source: How to Check if iPhone is New, Refurbished, or Replacement

The Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 14: What’s Up with My iPhone’s Battery?

We discuss and explain the issue around iPhone batteries, and tell you what to do if your iPhone’s battery isn’t lasting all day. We also look at a new, dumb password bug in macOS High Sierra, new Wi-Fi security standards, and new Mac malware.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

The iPhone Stockholm Syndrome

It’s been said that the iPhone is the most successful consumer device ever. It dominates the tech world as a bellwether of not only new technologies, but of Apple’s ability to sell this device, at increasing prices, to millions of people. Even though Apple is not the largest manufacturer of smartphones, their device dominates the minds of people interested in technology.

But after ten years, it’s fair to say that the smartphone has become commoditized. The feature set of this device is essentially limited, and there aren’t many new bells and whistles that can be added. So smartphone manufacturers focus on two areas: the camera, since many smartphone owners buy a phone in part to have a good or better camera, and details, including things like security features (Touch ID and Face ID), displays, water resistance, and more. None of these latter features are “killer” features, they are all incremental enhancements. Gone is the day when a new device added, say, the ability to play videos, or faster network access. All the essential features are there. (To be fair, the new iPhone adds augmented reality, but this technology is still too young for this to be a killer feature.)

But this means that new smartphones – and in particular iPhones – have to somehow convince users to spend more and more money. For a certain class of people, the look and feel of the device may be enough to sway them. John Gruber, writing about the iPhone X on Daring Fireball, points out that:

Stainless steel looks and feels so much more luxurious than aluminum.

The key word there is “luxurious.” Apple, after creating the modern smartphone, and seeing that it cannot dominate the industry in sales, has released the iPhone X at a higher price than its other devices to target people who can afford to pay more. It’s a risky strategy. Sure, they’re going to sell a lot of these phones now; there will always be people willing to buy luxury goods. (Though apparently not many of them bought the ludicrous solid gold Apple Watch Edition.) But what about when the economy goes sour? Things have been going fairly well since the last financial crises, but there’s always another one around the corner.

Apple risks becoming a luxury brand. You could argue that they already are, with computers and tablets priced well above the competition, but if you use their devices, you know that they are worth what you pay. They work better, last longer, and retain better resale value. (I just sold a two-and-a-half year old MacBook for a bit more than half what I paid for it.) With a fancier phone, however, or rather a pocket computer, a device that most people in advanced economies own, it is harder. This is a banal device, with even the cheapest phone able to perform most tasks that people need. And most people don’t resell these; they wear them out. (Though in the US, Apple’s trade-in program is changing this a bit.)

Since the announcement of the iPhone X, as a “second” iPhone line, I have been thinking that Apple would keep the “number” iPhone for another generation – iPhone 9 and 9 plus – and release the iPhone X2, before moving all iPhones to the “X” line. They would be able to refine the new interface used to control the iPhone (see the Daring Fireball article linked above for more on the difference in iOS of the iPhone X), and slowly phase it in. But at $200-$300 more than the “number” iPhone, plus a steeper cost for AppleCare, this is a luxury item.

Apple long touted itself as a company making computers for everyone. Not in the early years, when a desktop computer cost the equivalent of the new iMac Pro, but when Steve Jobs returned and developed the iMac. Over the years, the company has always managed to cater for everyone from students to “pros.” But with the iPhone X, the company is counting on people following them because they are convinced that a more expensive, more “luxurious” iPhone is better, even essential. This is a risky choice.

Why Apple Is Replacing the Battery on my iPhone SE

While I currently use an iPhone 8+, a still have the iPhone SE that I bought in March, 2016. With all of the attention to batteries on the iPhone, I decided to check this device’s battery. It hadn’t seemed particularly slow to me, but the battery hadn’t been lasting a full day for some months before I got the iPhone 8+ and stopped using the SE.

Iphone batteryYou cannot easily find the battery health and the number of charge cycles on the iPhone, but I found that iMazing can give me this information. If you connect an iOS device, then click the battery at the bottom of the window, iMazing displays the information shown here at the left. If you download a free demo of iMazing, you’ll be able to use it to view this information. (Full disclosure: I do some writing work for the company.)

It shows that the battery health is 73.9%, and that it has undergone 545 charge cycles. According to Apple’s Battery Service and Recycling page, the battery is guaranteed to 80% of capacity and 500 charge cycles. If you exceed either of these while under warranty – either the statutory one-year warranty, or two years if you have AppleCare+ – then they replace the battery.

So I called AppleCare, and after a few tests, the advisor confirmed that they would replace the battery. Since the nearest Apple Store is an hour’s drive – and it’s the Christmas season – I opted for a mail-in repair. I don’t currently use the phone, so if it’s out for service for a week or so, it’s not a problem.

Iphone battery2For an interesting comparison, my partner is using an iPhone 5s that I gave her when I bought the iPhone SE. It shows battery health of 80%, and a whopping 1258 cycles! Naturally, the iPhone 5S is much older, but even at more than twice the number of charge cycles, it’s in better health than the battery on my iPhone SE. Naturally, it’s out of warranty, but since it works fine, it would be worth replacing the battery, if it needed replacement.

So it’s worth checking your iPhone’s battery health and the number of charge cycles, especially if it’s still under AppleCare+, and even more so if it’s near the end of the coverage period. You may find that you can get a free battery replacement which will make the device last longer, or increase its resale value if you want to sell it.