Monday, 13 July 2009

Feedback on iPhone 3GS for Apple

Here's a copy of info I just left Apple at the iPhone Feedback site

Hello. I wanted to provide you with some feedback on my purchase of the latest iPhone 3GS.

I recently upgraded from an iPhone 3G to a 3GS unit (on June 19th)[week 23 production model]. When I first activated and setup my new iPhone I restored from the 3G backup as instructed as was immediately shocked by the quality of the display. I observed the following - when comparing this to my existing iPhone 3G:
1/ screen had a major yellow tint
2/ colours seemed washed out / not vivid
3/ overall brightness was much lower than 3G (at various brightness settings)
4/ increasing brightness to compensate led to poor contrast
5/ polarization of the display made the display brightness and colour drop off very rapidly when viewed at anything but straight on

I called carphone warehouse and O2 in the UK, they said I should return it to apple store - which I visited on 14th day of purchase. Store assistant agreed and acknowledged he could see the issue but no geniuses free so made appointment for next working day.

2nd visit, Genius professed no knowledge of the problem, didn't acknowledge any problem but when pushed, handed me over to the manager - Benjamin in the Kingston-Upon-Thames Apple store in the UK.

Benjamin said 'it was within specification'. I challenged how he was qualified to determine this - his main point was that 'if there had been no recall or notice to the effect that there are acknowledged defects then it must be within specification'.

At the same time I pointed out that within the very same store they were showing iPhone 3GS with screens just as 'bad' as mine, but also some much better and more similar to the brighter, more vivid bluer/cooler display on my 3G.

[BTW the best units on display that day with cooler/brighter screens were all week 22 production units as reported in their serial numbers]

So yes - if it is intentional that you have such a wide variation in the quality and performance of the displays you could make an argument that they are all within 'specification'.

Benjamin said he was 'not prepared to offer an exhange for this unit as the display issues I were reporting were cosmetic and they appeared within specification'

However I repeated I was not satisfied with the quality and use of the display - and I also mentioned some advice given to me by Rory Cellan-Jones (technology correspondent for BBC) - Rory said 'take it back straight away'.

I think my unwavering resolve and name dropping of influentional journalists helped at this point as Benjamin then relented and said that they could get one 'refurb' (probably new at this time) unit out of its box and if I was satisfied with its display they would do an exchange. But they would not keep opening boxes etc. I agreed to this.

So the new 3GS [week 25 production model] I looked at was better. Its still much warmer/yellow than my 3G, and it still isn't as bright - nor are the colours as vivid. BUT it doesn't suffer from the extreme polarization issue. If you look from a slight angle it remains relatively bright.

So... its better than the first 3GS, but still a disappointment compared to the the rest of the device.

I'm hoping that once you have sorted out your manufacturing issues around your LCDs then I will be able to come back to an Apple store and get just a screen replacement. I look forward to Apple formally acknowledging this issue.

Please fee free to look at the relevant discussion threads in the Apple discussion forums - lots of noise in there but also good salient facts - e.g. guy who has bought 10 units and done comparison shots on them.


Bill Pinnell

p.s. you need a 'Feedback Type' for 'hardware issues'


  1. Our 3Gs has a much brighter display than any of our 3G iPhones

  2. Just got a new 3G (not an S) and it's yellow and low contrast compared to my old 2g iPhone. I like the old display much much better. Because the OS has lots of blue/grey it looks dirty with a yellow hue. Photos have no red. Even if I was colour blind (but I'm not) I'd find the contrast very annoying. I'm going to O2 later. Also another 3G rant, it wobbles on a table as you use the touch display - how mad is that and it's got even bigger compared to the 2g. Like the GPS though.