Since Apple (s aapl) has just launched a new iPhone, it’s inevitable that reports of problems with the initial crop of devices are also cropping up. The iPhone 4S has been accused of everything from a poor quality screen to issues with Siri, as well as network problems and brightness issues. These and other problems may be real, but that doesn’t mean a hardware return is necessarily in order.
Same screen, same complaints
The iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS both heard complaints of a “washed out” screen with a “yellowish tinge” in their early days on the market. I personally returned a brand new iPhone 3GS following the Canadian launch of the device three times before giving up and accepting the warmer hues as a necessary evil. My iPhone 4 had yellow tint at the bottom of its screen, but I decided that time around to leave well enough alone.
In both cases, the strange hues were temporary, and eventually gave way to much cooler tones. We later heard that this could’ve been caused by glue that wasn’t allowed to properly dry, and which eventually did dry, eliminating the problem entirely. Bottom line, if this is the only issue you’re having with a new iPhone 4S, consider yourself lucky and give it some time to fix itself. You’ve got a year-long warranty, after all.
Some users will also notice apparent differences in their auto-brightness performance. That’s also normal, and is likely just the byproduct of getting used to a new device. You may have to set your brightness level slightly higher or lower than on a previous iPhone to get it just right, but give yourself time to get used to the difference before trading it in.
If you’re coming from an iPhone 4 or even an iPhone 3GS, you might experience some disappointment with the iPhone 4S’s battery life. It’s close to the iPhone 4 by most accounts and tests, but a small percentage of people are seeing rapid discharge in standby mode.
If you just feel like the 4S isn’t quite as long-lasting as the iPhone 4, then you probably shouldn’t worry about it. While the 4S has a battery with increased capacity, because of added features like Siri and a much more demanding processor, it actually is rated lower for some tasks, and for standby operation (300 hours on iPhone 4 vs. 200 on 4S). It takes a hit now, but as OS updates become more demanding of iPhone processors, you’ll be thankful you’ve got the A5, despite its power-hungry nature, and future iOS updates could improve battery efficiency.
On the other hand, if you’re running into situations where your battery drains in only a couple of hours, you might have grounds for a return. As always, try a full restore (not from backup) first to see if it fixes your issues, but if it doesn’t, go ahead and schedule a Genius appointment.
The cold shoulder from Siri
Some reports say Siri is sometimes failing to hear or listen. This is almost definitely a problem on Apple’s side of the equation, and not one that individual iPhone owners need to worry too much about. Ellis Hamburger at Business Insider recommends turning the Siri feature on and off as a temporary workaround if you run into this problem, but expect it to become much more dependable over time as Apple measures and scales to cope with user demand.
Siri is also reportedly having some problems launching automatically when the iPhone 4S is raised to a user’s ear. Likewise, people reported issues with the screen shutting off on the iPhone 4 due to problems that seemed to originate in the device’s proximity sensor. Software updates addressed that issue, and likely will address this one, too. Again, if problems persist after an update or two, you’ll still have plenty of time to seek out an exchange.
It’s not you, it’s your network
If you’re experiencing slow network speeds, don’t put the blame on your device just yet; it might be your network that’s having the problems. Some users are seeing much slower network speeds on Sprint (s s) than on other providers. Stacey Higginbotham previously wondered whether Sprint would be able to handle the additional load brought on by iPhone users, who are data-hungry, but Sprint itself is saying that’s not an issue.
It’s much more likely that users are just encountering the limitations of Sprint’s network, and not any specific problem. Stacey also noted that while Sprint may be able to handle the iPhone traffic, that didn’t mean its network would be fast. Network problems on any carrier also depend heavily on environmental and circumstantial factors, so watch and wait, or travel to different coverage areas before exchanging a phone for any network-related reason.
Don’t trade a good egg for a bad one
You might be eager to fix a perceived problem with your iPhone 4S, and you should be; after all, the things aren’t cheap. But the danger with acting on impulse and trading in an early model device is that one problem which could be addressed either by patience or a software update could be replaced by a more serious one that is actually related to hardware, and skeptical Apple support staff looking at a record of three or four exchanges as you try to explain the new problem.
Living with imperfection is hard, but trying to work out those imperfections amid the chaos and confusion of a new launch can make things worse. Better to wait a while, see where you stand a week or two from now, and save yourself the headache of wading through throngs of customers at Apple Stores.