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The 'dead zone': iPhone screen fails

After five short months and a bike ride in the rain, my touch screen gives out and texting is no longer feasible. The problem is solved relatively quickly, though.

You would think the iPhone's touch screen--the hallmark of the whole dang thing--would last for more than five months. Well, think again.

After a particularly wet bike ride on Saturday here in the Bay Area, my iPhone got somewhat damp. (You know, the type of rain that soaks through a coat but doesn't ruin anything.) After the ride, I wanted to text people and noticed the top row of the text keyboard was not responding. I had to press, no squish, down to get a letter. And the cursor would flip out. And the screen looked bad when I did so, just like when you press down on an LCD screen too hard.

After a reset, power-cycle and testing out different touch-based functions (aren't they all?), I was convinced I needed to get help at the Apple store. I made an appointment online for the next day. (All the Saturday appointments were gone by the time I looked online.)

The next day, I found out I wasn't the only one who had a "dead zone" on their screen. The guy next to me at the Genius Bar had the same problem. After attempting a restore, the Apple clerk (who asked me to write that customer service was fast and efficient--it wasn't) brought out a white box (a coffin I thought?) with a new iPhone in it. The clerk said Apple would exchange my phone, and there'd be no charge. It was exactly as I had expected.

The clerk swapped my SIM card out, with a pin conveniently stored in his name tag, and I was on my way, after half an hour.

What surprised was was how all of my settings had been "restored"--ringtones, photos, SMS messages, IMAP settings. The iPhone was activated by AT&T in seconds, the transfer of all the junk on my iPhone took about 30 minutes. Not too bad.

The downsides: the process was a bit of a pain and the restore missed a few pictures I took. (I have to re-assign all the pictures to particular contacts again.) Also, it's a little distressing that such an integral feature failed after five months. The clerk who helped me did say that the technology was very new, and that, as an early adopter, I should have expected as such.