AWOL from the IPhone Army

I have my IPhone 4 (not the 4S—let’s be clear) in a bag. I just converted to IPhone after using a horrible Droid for almost two years. I wanted to move to IPhone because the price of the 4 plummeted when the new one came out and I wanted to see what all the fuss was. The problem though was the brand new IPhone, when held to my face, dialed, muted, tried to activate other features, etc. Websites said it’s a common problem—this “face-dialing”—with IPhone 4’s. Something about the proximity sensor. The only way to combat it are to reset the whole phone and hope it stops doing it, or hold the phone away from your face when you talk.

The tall Amazonian manager with a thick layer of makeup at the Verizon store where I bought it validates this workaround. “Oh, all you have to do is hold it away from your face.” She demonstrates a slight outward tilt, so the bottom is further away from her mouth. “That, or hit the top button and it will go to home screen.”

“You’re kidding,” I say. She’s not kidding.

I leave.

The Apple Store at the Fashion Valley Mall is packed. It’s like the Department of Motor Vehicles except the employees are incredibly hip wearing slashed and shaggy hair styles and low slung jeans or cords and blue Apple T-shirts and smiles. Smiles everywhere on the employees. The only non-smiling people in the Apple store are the security guard and the customers. Like the DMV, the customers look like they’re on Death Row. Or in Purgatory. They mill about, sit on the cube furniture, listen to the smiling employees, gaze up at the walls filled with product, stare wide-eyed at the multitude of waist-high tables with sample Apple devices, all with glum expectant faces. They’re tired. Impatient. But they have to be there. Like the DMV. You have to do it. If you don’t have a license, you don’t have a license. It’s like the IPhone ads: If you don’t have an IPhone, you don’t have an IPhone.

There’s not a greeter (like Wal-Mart) or a front desk. You just go in and you’re supposed to know what to do. The stoked workers whisk by or they’re engaged in deep consultation with other customers. No time for walk-ins. There’s a Genius Bar in the back, but the happy employees back there do not look inviting. They’re busier and more focused— it seems—than the ones running round on the sales floor. It must be because they’re geniuses.

I snag a short blue-shirted staff. “How do I get some help?”

“Do you have an appointment?” she says.

“No. How do I make one?”

“Most people do it online.” She’s in the middle of something, onto someone else, perhaps her appointment, but she brings me to a table with computers. She taps at the keyboard and says the next opening is in an hour from now. She says, “What’s the problem?” And she says it in a way that feels like the old man or lady at Wal-Mart saying hello when you walk in. Like a soft little hug, or a pat on the shoulder. A little, “Not to worry, kiddo, we’ll help you out” kind of feeling.

“Well,” I say, “When I’m on a call, my ear or cheek hits the buttons and it mutes or tries to call other people.”

The small staff in her black wide glasses and jagged haircut nods in agreement, gives a conciliatory, hmmm, as if to say, I know what you mean.

I leave.

At home, I set up an Apple ID and an ICloud account and visit said cloud to make sure everything’s there, then I wipe the phone. Everything comes back, including the really hip cheek dialing feature.

At the Verizon store, I check in and the short female staff asks what the problem is. “Well, you see…”
She says all you have to do is hold out the phone, like this.

I return the phone for full credit, less the $35 restocking fee. I reactivate the piece-of-crap Droid phone I hate.

I leave.

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