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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Video demonstration of an iPhone with dead spots

June 16, 2008

For the last few days my iPhone’s home screen has been acting up.  The bottom row of icons has been completely unresponsive.  Since they are my least used icons, I only noticed once and a while, and they seemed to work intermittently.

Today though, the problem finally showed how bad it was.  The bottom row on my number pad in the Phone application is completely untappable[sic]. The zero, star, and pound symbols respectively are impossible to tap.  I had to make a phone call to a client and was not able to until I SMSed myself the phone number so that the iPhone made the number tappable.

Here is a quick video demonstration to show what this looks like.

The odd part, as I pointed out in this video, is that the keyboard in all applications functions just fine.  All letters on the keyboard function as they should with no dead spots.

Attempted solutions

In case you are finding this page because you too have had similar problems, here is a list of the solutions I tried and what the result was.

  • Restarting the iPhone by shutting it off and turning it back on.
  • A hard restart by holding both the home and sleep buttons in.
  • A full restore of the software using iTunes.
  • A full restore without restoring a back up. (see update below)

None of these have resulted in a change. I still believe this to be an issue with the software, in some way, since the keyboard obviously functions perfectly.

Update 9:37pm EST: Helllooo Murphy’s Law! As fortune would have it, the moment I published this entry Viddler, and all of Limelight Networks, went down for a few hours. Go figure. It is back up now though.

Update 8:00am EST, June 17, 2008: This morning I decided I would do a full restore as suggested by Corey Wiley. The difference between the full restore I did before and this one, is that I downloaded the firmware update myself, and asked iTunes not to restore my back up. This would mean that every file on the iPhone would be brand-new.

This didn’t work either. In fact, the message that comes up immediately telling you how to edit your home screen, was nearly impossible to get rid of because I couldn’t hit the “DISMISS” button.

How to do a full restore

I thought I’d take a moment to jot down the steps to do a full restore of your iPhone’s software. It is fairly easy but I realize for some people this computer stuff isn’t second-nature.

  1. Open iTunes and dock your phone.
  2. Download the latest iPhone software. I recommend only downloading from Apple.com. No third party Web sites. To download the latest version, which is version 1.1.4 as of this writing, you may download it here.
  3. Hold down OPTION (on the Mac) or SHIFT (on Windows) and click the “Restore” button in iTunes when your iPhone is selected in the source list.
  4. Select the .zip file you downloaded. ((The .zip file is actually the .ipsw file you downloaded.))
  5. Once the iPhone is finished restoring, do not choose a back up to restore from, ask to set it up as a new phone.

Again, doing this did not solve my issue. However – I still believe this is a software issue because of the way the keyboard performs so well.

I’ll be calling the Apple Store nearest me, which is 1 1/2 hours away, and telling them that I’ll be bringing in my phone to have it replaced next week. Unless of course I’m really brave and I wait until the iPhone 2.0 software update comes out, but I doubt I can hold out that long for a working phone.

Update on June 26, 2008: Today I went to the Apple Store in Whitehall, Pennsylvania and, after waiting for an Apple Genius for only a few minutes, they quickly replaced my iPhone.  They swapped the SIM card so my new phone was usable right away, but it didn’t have any of my contacts, photos, music, etc. on it.  My recommendation is to make sure you do a full backup of your iPhone before taking it back.

A happy ending!

Last edited: 7:12pm EST on June 26, 2008.