The world’s initial bout of iPhone 5 fever has passed, so retailers have stopped playing tricks to take advantage of customers’ insatiable gadget lust, right? Well… no. Not Sprint. Like other readers and even our parent company’s own mystery shoppers, Daniel was told at a corporate-run Sprint store that if he wanted to go home with an iPhone 5, he also had to buy an accessories package. If he didn’t like it, he could go to Best Buy or a different store.
Last week, we asked whether anyone out there in Consumerland had experienced their new iPhones downloading huge amounts of data when the phone wasn’t supposed to be using any data at all. Yes, having a mobile device that uses the faster LTE network means you can use more data faster, but that’s not supposed to happen while you’re connected to wifi. Or driving. Or asleep. [More]
Josh doesn’t think that he’s using any more data with his new iPhone 5 than with his previous iPhone 4. In fact, he should be using less, because he isn’t streaming music anymore. Only that’s not the case. His phone gobbled 5 GB of data in only 22 days. He has an unlimited plan, but getting through 5 GB means he would be throttled for the rest of the month. Just like Verizon’s customer service, AT&T tried to convince Josh that he was using more data because he was using it faster on the LTE network. While that might be the case for some less savvy customers, Josh is an experienced smartphone owner and knows how to manage data.
We keep hearing about a wi-fi bug that leads to iPhone 5 owners racking up huge data bills when they thought they weren’t on the mobile data network. When Matt contacted Verizon about it, the ever-helpful customer service representative told him that it was just because the iPhone 5 is a 4G LTE device. This is probably the cause of many data complaints that new smartphone users have, but isn’t the case for Matt. He says that he hasn’t changed his browsing habits: using the same amount of data in a shorter amount of time doesn’t mean that he uses more data. At least, not according to the math that everyone except Verizon uses.
Who gets to buy an iPhone 5? You may remember reader Luke, who wrote in to back up our Consumer Reports colleagues’ account that Sprint stores were requiring customers to buy an accessory bundle if they wanted to get their hands on the shiny new gadget. After a mixup in activating the two phones he eventually bought (from the Apple Store, with no unwanted bundles, thank you very much) Luke’s data connection wouldn’t work. Sprint’s apology for two data-less weeks? A $10 credit on his bill.
Yes, mobile phone companies charge fees that seem kind of arbitrary, but Dan and his wife were under the impression that customer service representatives weren’t left to just make up the reasons why. Then they dealt with Verizon, which claimed that the $30 upgrade fee they were going to charge his wife to upgrade to an iPhone 5 not only couldn’t be waived as usual, but that the fee was to cover a sort of “how to use your new phone” class for iPhone users and in-store kiosk repair. Perhaps, in a global sense, this is why the company needs the $30, but the explanation sounded wacky to Dan and Mrs. Dan. They tried to find someone reasonable higher up the corporate food chain, but there was no such reasonable person.
Say what you want about iPhones, but when a new one comes out, plenty of people want one as quick as they can get their hot little hands on’em. But you might have to be sitting on your hot hands a little while longer. The reason there’s such a sluggish shipping pattern could be partly because of the pretty pretty aluminum Apple chose for the iPhone 5’s cases. It’s pretty, yes, but it’s also very scratchable, and now Apple is trying to deal with that issue.
We mentioned months ago when it was first rumored that the iPhone 5 would replace the iPhone’s now-familiar 30-pin connector with a smaller, but still proprietary connector, that this could cause problems for people whose accessories were all of the old 30-pin type. And here we have the story of Consumerist reader Nick, who lost the charger for his iPhone 5 and is now staring at a very pretty device that he has no way of charging.
As with many tech products, Apple’s had a few bumps in this latest iPhone rollout. First there was the whole Apple maps issue, and now some users are reporting a purple haze showing up in photos taken with their iPhone 5 cameras. But hey, at least Apple is offering some advice on how to avoid the haze. Because no one wants purple haze on all their pictures and if you do, there’s probably an app for that.
Jonathan and his roommate both ditched AT&T at the same time in favor of Verizon. They’ve experienced years of spotty coverage and dropped calls nearly everywhere they went, and wanted Verizon’s famed ubiquitous rock-solid coverage. They brought home their new iPhones and discovered that instead of vastly superior coverage, they had incredibly craptastic coverage and even more dropped calls. Verizon representatives told them that was weird… their area is supposed to have great coverage. When Jonathan tried to wrangle a free femtocell out of Verizon for their trouble, Verizon wouldn’t budge. His roommate fled back to the less terrible coverage of AT&T, but Jonathan hasn’t made that leap.
Gary doesn’t want to be a customer of Sprint anymore. You can’t really blame him. First, the local corporate-owned Sprint store wouldn’t let him have an iPhone 5 without an accessory bundle purchase of at least $80. (Sounds familiar.) That’s frustrating enough, but then he discovered that his phone didn’t really get any data service. At all. Maybe the phone was defective, so he contacted Sprint, who eventually told him to get the phone swapped out at the local Apple Store. When the new phone didn’t work either, he learned that Sprint’s 14-day return window slams shut after you’ve swapped your non-working phone for another non-working phone.
Many of our regular readers would argue that this was all Matt’s own fault for going to Best Buy. They had a great promotion for iPhone screen protectors and cases, though, and how could they possibly screw up selling an iPhone case? By only selling Zagg InvisibleSHIELD screen protectors. We’ve heard great things about these products, but Matt was horrified to notice that the company puts its name, in black letters, on the screen protector itself. The effect is subtle if you have a black smartphone, but could be irritating if you have one of any other color.
Whenever a new Apple product comes out, there seems to be at least a few weeks where ripples of discontent flow through the community of technology devotees. One problem firing up support forums since the iPhone 5 came out centers around phones on the Verizon Wireless network gobbling up cellular data even when users are connected to a Wi-Fi network. That’s totally destroying monthly data caps.
Kevin was excited to buy a new iPhone 5 last week, but the iPhone was much less excited to go home with him. He left for a business trip and discovered that the phone wouldn’t come out of airplane mode. What was wrong? Had he only spent a few hours with the phone before it decided to rebel against Kevin and against the very AT&T network that was supposed to give it life? He sought help, but the carrier and the phone manufacturer each refuse to take responsibility for the problem.
While the masses were clamoring for the iPhone 5, many of those hungry consumers were a bit wary about the fact that Apple had ditched the default Google Maps function in favor of its own map application. And now that customers are complaining that the iOS6’s maps are full of bugs and bad directions, Apple CEO Tim Cook is offering his apologies, as well as alternate suggestions.
As you may know, our parent publication Consumer Reports sends a nationwide army of secret shoppers out into ordinary stores to purchase the items they review, in order to make sure that they don’t receive items that were handpicked for media outlets and triple-checked for flaw. One person dispatched to purchase an iPhone 5 from Sprint reports that anyone who wanted to buy the new Apple gadget was also required to buy an accessory package.
Although we’ve heard plenty of so-so and “meh” feedback for the iPhone 5, we’ve also seen a whole lot of people scrambling to order Apple’s newest shiny gadget. And it seems we as consumers in general are pretty darn impressed by the thing, as Apple’s stock went over $700 for the very first time ever, to $701.44 this morning. So they’ve got to be doing something right, eh?
Good news, Apple fans: if you absolutely must have the iPhone 5 right now, take the time to do some math and talk to your current carrier. It might be cheaper to just break up with your carrier, pay the early termination fees, sell your existing phone (or phones, on a family plan) and get a subsidized phone from a new carrier. One customer discovered that this was the case: that AT&T would effectively be paying him to leave, since the price of upgrading was so high.