As an Apple blogger, I have to be careful not to get too uppity when complaining about rumor coverage, lest I prove myself a hypocrite. Glass houses and all that. Rumors are a big part of what we all talk about, and they always have been. I have been steadily covering iPad rumors since I came back on board at our sister site iPadInsight.com back in February, and will continue to do so when rumors of the coming iPad Pros are mentioned. And if you keep up with Apple, you already know that when there are lulls between hardware releases like we currently find ourselves in, the coverage of every little rumor increases to fill the vacuum.
I have heard plenty of accounts of Find My iPhone coming through in a pinch to prevent theft, or to track down a thief after the fact. Apple’s service is solid and reliable enough to be accepted and recognized as a legitimate data source by most police departments, making it the ideal first response tool to retrieve a lost or stolen iPhone. If you have an iPhone or other iOS device and don’t have this feature turned on, why not? If you don’t, you might reconsider after reading the following story.
A story that many of you have no doubt already read, about a man in China who made his own working iPhone 6S from spare parts, made the rounds over the last week. While his curiosity, persistence, and ingenuity definitely a story worth telling, there is something just as interesting when you look beyond Scotty Allen and his interesting achievement. This story shines a light on what happens to many of the broken iPhones of the world after they are donated, recycled, given away, etc.
While companies in the US, such as Gazelle and NextWorth have specialized in “recycling” non-functional iPhones for years, what exactly does that mean? It usually means that they get “parted out,” or completely disassembled with all still working components removed and saved for sale in bulk to repair shops and the like. That, or sold as-is with some description to the same people. Just think about how many repair shops there are just in your local area. There are four or five brick and mortar places here in the Memphis Metro area, and this is a small to mid-size city. Then there are pop-up kiosks, guys that work off Craigslist, and the like. There are also more established businesses, such as Batteries Plus, that also do in-house mobile device repairs. Think about how many places there are beyond your local Apple Store nationwide. Then expand that to world wide. It takes a LOT of iPhone parts to fill all those bins on all those shelves.
It is certainly possible to get a lot of these parts “new.” There are plenty of places online, including established online sellers like Amazon and eBay, where you can get any replacement iPhone part for just about any model. The vast majority of these parts are coming from China, even if they are being sold from an American storefront. The fact is, a lot of the parts that really are “new” are either factory seconds that didn’t make the grade for production run iPhones, or are cheap knockoffs from alternate manufacturers just for the repair market. If you have ever gotten your screen repaired by one of the “guys on Craigslist,” you can often tell a difference in quality.
However, Scotty Allen’s journey through the markets of China shows exactly where a lot of these parts come from. I would venture a guess that a large number of the parts you will find packaged and sold as new will actually have come from a used, “parted-out” iPhone somewhere. Is that the end of the world? Actually, no. Working parts from a used iPhone will likely be of higher quality and from better production runs than the new stuff that is available as replacement parts from China. While it would be nice to have a little more truth in advertising, the end result here is an affordable way to get a good quality fix for your damaged iPhone.
The biggest lesson for me in this story is that Mr Allen was able to piece together a FULLY WORKING iPhone 6S from spare parts. That means that iOS was loaded on the working logic board that he purchased to make the phone. This is a very important item to consider when you think about recycling an iPhone that you own. You need to do whatever it takes to reset and wipe the data if it hasn’t completely failed. If the screen is broken and you don’t feel like getting it replaced, plug the phone into your computer and use iTunes to Clear All Data before you part with it. You never know where that working logic board might end up, and in who’s hands it will eventually land. Mr Allen’s odyssey proves that it could find its way into a working iPhone again, one day.
All things must come to an end at some point, and another ending is upon us as the departure of Christopher Stringer became news last week thanks to a report from The Information. Apple has gone though MANY changes since the original iPhone was announced in early 2007, including the departure, brief return, and then death of Steve Jobs, Tim Cook’s subtle changes to the company as CEO, the firing of original iPhone project manager Scott Forstall, the elevation of Jony Ive to lead software designer, and a huge shift in iOS’ design language starting in iOS 7. However, this is one of the last ones before all of the major players involved in the device that started Apple’s move into mobile computing are gone. Jony Ive and Richard Howarth are left as two of the last men standing from the original design team that changed computing.
This week, Apple followed up last year’s mid-product cycle release of the iPhone SE with a couple of small, but welcomed additions to the iPhone linuep. While they were modest enough to not warrant an event of their own, and instead just a press release and rollout in the online Apple Store, they are still definitely worth talking about.
It seems like the rumors of an iPhone 8 with an edge-to-edge screen, no Home Button and TouchID integrated into the display are getting to the point where that are looking less like rumors, and more like legitimate leaks. Apple has now been awarded a patent for technology covering a fingerprint sensor integrated into a screen for authentication.
In Part I of Ten Year In, we talked about Steve Jobs’ iconic original iPhone announcement in January of 2007, and how it looks in the light of history. Ten years is a perfect time to look back at where it all started. Now let’s go from there up to the present. Where are we now, and how did we get here? Let’s take a look.
It snuck up on me. New iOS devices have come and gone, new features have been revealed (and in a few notable cases, removed), and a titan of the electronic age has passed from this world. However, until I got reminder a couple of weeks ago while listening to Leo Laporte’s TWIT podcast, I had forgotten that we have officially reached the ten year anniversary of Steve Jobs’ tour de force announcement of the iPhone. There is something momentous about the passage of a decade, especially in the fast-moving realm of technology, making this a perfect time to both look back at what was, and also forward to the future.
A Personal Note
In a personal sense, what stands out to me is my own hubris at the time of the announcement. I certainly wasn’t alone in this, but it makes me laugh at myself a bit in hindsight. I had heard the rumors. I knew about the impending announcement of a big new piece of Apple hardware. However, even though I had dipped my toe into their ecosystem for the first time with a couple of iPods, I wasn’t interested. Not even a little. I was a longtime Windows Mobile PDA and Smartphone user with all of the accompanying apps and accessories. I was on XDA Forums when the original XDA actually existed, and Android was still just a glimmer in Andy Rubin’s eye. I had modded firmware and hacked and skinned, and anything else possible. I was so disinterested in Apple’s inevitable phone, that I didn’t actually see or hear Steve Jobs’ presentation until a few years later. I read the early reports on the event, and then the pre-release reviews later on as the release approached, but my interest in a new platform with no ability to load applications was lukewarm, at best through the majority of 2007.
See if this sounds familiar to you? Â You heard that the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were going to look the same as the last two iPhones Apple released. Â There aren’t going to be any great new features released, because the 10 year anniversary of the iPhone is next year, and they are saving all theÂ best to celebrate the big day. Â So, then why were pre-orders slipping weeks after launch day 15 minutes after pre-orders began? Â It couldn’t be because people were actually buying the new iPhones? Â Maybe Apple just didn’t make enough on purpose? Â Believe what you’d like, but from what the carriers have been reporting, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were a big hit, and broke many launch day records.
So where does that leave you if you were hoping to secure a new iPhone 7 or 7 Plus ASAP? Â That depends on which iPhone you were looking to purchase. Â Just like it is every year that a new color option is offered, the Matte Black and Jet Black versionsÂ are in high demand–especially the Jet Black, do to the extensive and meticulous Â process used to create theÂ glossy finish.
I have been an iPhone owner since the very first one was released in June of 2007. Â I, like many others, was captivated by this computer in my pocket, and was extremely excited about its potential. Â I have been able to finagle my way into buying an iPhone every years since than, except for the iPhone 3G–I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade since I purchased the first gen iPhone a few months before the 3G was released. Â I have been an early adopter, and have either pre-ordered and picked up on launch day, or purchased a new iPhone at an Apple Store the day it went on sale.
This year, however, the planets didn’t align properly for me to make that happen on time. Â I was up at 2:45 to pre-order, but both the Apple and AT&T servers were strained past their limits, pushing my delivery time out 1-2 weeks for my 128 GB 7 Plus in Black. Â Between Apple’s “iconic design” being good enough for the masses and those consumers who had theirÂ upgrade cycles fall on this year, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was still in high demand. Â As I watched others cheer with delight as they tracked and received theirÂ new iPhones, all I could do was wait–until yesterday. Â My new iPhone was delivered over a week ahead of schedule, and so far, I couldn’t be happier. Â Let me share with you some of my initial thoughts and observations after only one day of use.
I’m sticking with my 6S Plus this year, but I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday about his pending iPhone 7 Plus. We were discussing the features he was most looking forward to, and what he thought of the change in the home button from a physical to a haptic control. My friend was looking forward to the changes, but expressed something that surprised me: that the iPhone 7 isn’t new enough because it doesn’t have a dramatically different physical design.
I have trouble with this aspect because, to me, the iPhone has always been about what it enables me to do. I do like the physical design and I do still find myself drawn to the pure white front and curves on the 6S Plus, but I still see the similarly-shaped iPhone 7 â€” especially the 7 Plus â€” as a new device.
TheÂ internals have changed enough that there should be significant differences in whereÂ and howÂ you can use this new iPhone.