Owning and repairing Apple devices internationally

Last year in March, while being on a job in the UK for a few weeks, I bought a new iPhone 5 at the Apple Store Covent Garden in London. My iPhone 4S of the time had some issue with keeping a charge, so I went to replace it. Fast forward to last July, when I accidentally dropped said iPhone 5 while being in the US, shattering its screen. I got myself a Genius Bar appointment at the nearest Apple Store in Santa Rosa, California where they, about an hour of waiting and 149 Dollars later, handed me my phone with a replaced screen. I have no AppleCare for that phone, which doesn’t make a difference for what was about to happen.

After getting home with the repaired iPhone 5 I noticed something odd with the phone/display. Once the sun shines on the display the phone starts acting weird. It opens apps, starts typing when the keyboard is visible. I call it “ghost taps”. It randomly starts “tapping” on the displayed icons, keys, etc. There is also quite a bit of dust on the inside of the lens, which must have gotten in during the repair.

So I went back to the Apple Store in Santa Rosa so they could have another look at it and also remove the dust. Their solution sounded reasonable as in they would go on and replace the whole phone. The Genius took the serial and tried to start the process but was immediately stopped by Apples system, because it detected a phone manufactured for the UK. He tried some tricks but couldn’t do anything for me. He suggested that I call Apple support to have a stab at it, saying they could possibly do more for me.

I called the hotline and at first it sounded like it was successful, the lady took my details and clarified that I wouldn’t be able to get the same model, but an unlocked US iPhone 5. Fine by me. She just had to get buy off from her manager. He called me back a few minutes later telling me they couldn’t do it.

Apple US doesn’t replace iPhones made for Apple UK. Apples solution: Ship it to someone in the UK to have it replaced there or buy a plane ticket to the UK to do it yourself. Yes, Apple told me to buy a plane ticket from the US to the UK to replace a phone.

I’m just writing this now because I heard about some recent changes to AppleCare+ that would make international swaps possible. That’s not the case. According to Apple a) you can’t buy AppleCare+ after 30 days of owning the device and b) even if you had AppleCare+ to begin with, they wouldn’t be able to swap a UK phone in the US. I even offered Apple and the Apple Store to pay for another replacement screen because it would still be cheaper than a plane ticket to the UK. They refused, telling me they had to replace the whole phone (which they already refused to do).

I won’t be able to make it to the EU (or the UK) before my warranty for the phone expires altogether. So, if I want to have a chance to use that phone again, my last option is to go to a 3rd party and have the screen replaced there.

tl;dr: Don’t buy an iPhone outside of the country where you spend most of the time in. I would go as far as saying don’t buy an Apple device outside of the country where you spend most of the time in. It might be different for MacBooks, etc. but keep in mind that Apple might refuse to repair/swap it in case something isn’t working.