Late Friday afternoon Apple issued a press release stating that some iPhone 5 devices manufactured through March 2013 may have a defect that causes the sleep/wake button to fail.
iPhone owners can use a new page on Apple’s support site to determine if their phone is eligible for repair. Unfortunately for these users, the phones won’t be replaced or repaired in-store. Instead, the phone has to be sent to an Apple Repair Center, which means the entire process can take up to a week to be completed.
Any users outside of the two-year AppleCare warranty are definitely covered under the new program and can have their sleep buttons repaired at no cost.
Each customer whose phone is being repaired will be loaned a 16 GB phone from Apple for use during the week their phone is being repaired.
Users who previously paid for a replacement due to this issue can contact Apple through the same support page to see if they are eligible for a refund or not.
We have just learned (via 9to5Mac) that there is another option which might allow affected customers to upgrade to an iPhone 5c/5s for free.
According to internal documents furnished to Apple employees this weekend, US customers who make a GeniusÂ Bar appointment for the known sleep/wake issue can opt to trade-in their device and may receive upto US$350 (or $370 in Canada) in credit, which is $80 over the current maximum for non-affected devices.
To achieve the full trade-in value, the device must be free from any issues aside from the sleep/wake defect.
Apple warns that iPhones with damaged screens (~US$150) must be repaired before the device is eligible for trade-in. Customers who are eligible for an upgrade will get to keep the remaining value as an Apple gift card, and those who are not eligible can purchase a device outright but will have to pay the remaining balance out-of-pocket.
Apple employees have also been instructed not to present this option unless the customer specifically asksÂ about upgrading to a newer model. This policy is in place so Apple can avoid the customer perceiving the sleep button recall as a way to “force” iPhone 5 users to upgrade with new contracts.
Apple launched its in-store trade-in program at Apple Store retail locations last August, and has since expanded it to Canada and others. Last week, Apple began accepting iPad trade-ins as well.