Apple announced Friday, April 25, that it will start fixing faulty power buttons for iPhone 5 users free of charge after finding what it claims is a rare defect found in some models manufactured before March 2013.
The company did not specify how many handsets may be affected. However, Apple, on its user support page, says that a “small percentage” of iPhone 5 users may find the power button, also known as the Sleep/Wake mechanism in Apple lingo, does not work properly or at all.
“Apple will offer the service free of charge to iPhone 5 customers with models that exhibit this issue and have a qualifying serial number,” Apple spokesperson Teresa Brewer told Reuters.
Apple encourages iPhone 5 owners who see this defect on their smartphones to visit the company’s website and enter their phone’s serial number to see if they qualify for a free repair. Owners can find the serial number engraved near the bottom of the handset’s back case.
Those whose iPhones qualify for repair can bring their handsets to any Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider, where customer care specialists will examine the phone for eligibility before sending it to the nearest Apple Repair Center.
Users can also call Apple’s customer service and ask for a postage box which they can use to mail their phones to the local Apple Repair Center.
Repairs take approximately four to six days, during which time Apple will offer a 16 GB iPhone 5 loaner handset that can be used while the owner’s phone is being repaired.
Customers who are outside Apple’s AppleCare warranty program can qualify for the free repair, provided their phones have the right serial number. It is not clear, however, if iPhone 5s covered by the warranty can still qualify for in-store replacements or will be sent to the repair center.
Apple recommends that customers back up their data and delete all their phones’ content before sending them in for repair.
Customers in the US and Canada can qualify for free repairs starting Friday, April 25. Customers outside the two countries will have to wait until May 2.
The company specified that it will not offer free repairs for damages the company is not responsible for and impair the repair of the on/off button, such as a cracked screen.
Glitches in Apple’s best-selling flagship product are rare, but this is not the first time the company has faced such problems.
In 2010, iPhone 4 owners filed a class action lawsuit against Apple for reportedly shipping handsets with faulty antennas knowingly. The incident, dubbed “Antennagate” saw Apple admitting that some handsets may have signal loss when held a certain way. The company offered free cases to resolve the signal issue or $15 for each customer in settlement.