How to Fix Your iPhone Home Button… With a Vacuum Cleaner

iPhone Home Button Vacuum Cleaner

Last year, I complained about my iPhone 3GS home button losing sensitivity and becoming increasingly difficult to press. A year later, my iPhone 4 home button has the same issue, and worse.

A faulty home button could be the result of several things. It could have water damage, it could have dust clogged beneath it, or it could be intentionally planned by Apple to become obsolete.

If your home button is hard to press, your best bet is to take it to the Apple Store and see if they can replace your phone at the Genius Bar under warranty.

But if, like me, you live far away from the nearest Apple Store, or if your warranty is void for whatever reason, then I advise you to try this unconventional, but somewhat-effective fix for a faulty iPhone home button: suck the dust out of your iPhone charging port with a vacuum cleaner.

I read about vacuuming your iPhone in an Apple Support forum and was skeptical, but I tried it and, although it did not solve the problem completely, it worked to an extent. Pressing my home button no longer stresses my finger as much as it used to after trying the vacuum fix.

Just connect the hose attachment to your vacuum cleaner, turn on the vacuum and put the hose up to the charging port at the bottom of your iPhone.

You may want to use a pair of tweezers or a needle to take out dust particles as they are pulled into the charging port.

Do this a few times, and if you are lucky like me, then your home button will be at least slightly easier to press.

iPhone Issue: Home Button Hard to Press, Losing Sensitivity Over Time

iPhone Home Button Not Working

I have noticed in the last couple months that my iPhone 3GS home button is growing gradually unresponsive. Whereas a light click used to activate my home button without fail, the same amount of pressure now goes unnoticed by the iPhone. I now have to press harder for the home button to respond to my touch, and the constant double-tapping required to bring up iOS4’s app switcher places noticeable stress on my thumbs.

The home button issue was raised by a user in the MacRumors forum in November 2007, and the thread contains 4 pages of related complaints from iPhone customers with faulty home buttons. The complaints range from first-gen iPhone to 3G to 3GS users, though I have found no reports about an iPhone 4 home button issue as of this writing. It may be too early to tell.

Although the weaker home button on my iPhone 3GS has been apparent for a couple of months, it was never a huge inconvenience since I normally only tapped the home button once at any given time. Now that the iOS4 update has brought multitasking to the iPhone, the double-clicking required to activate the feature makes the home button problem that much more aggravating.

Pushing towards the bottom of the home button seems to work better, though not reliably.

These days, using my iPhone for a long period of time reminds me of the sore thumbs I had as a kid after playing too many video games. This is not a good sign, given the hand health risks associated with video gaming. No one deserves to get carpal tunnel syndrome from their iPhone, yet the possibility is a real one if Apple has not improved this issue with the iPhone 4.

I have not yet attempted to take my iPhone to the Apple Store, since there is no store in my town and my expired warranty has discouraged me from driving to a distant Apple Store only to be turned away. Although I will soon switch to an iPhone 4 (still awaiting delivery), I would like to sort this issue out if possible so that I can get a good price for my iPhone 3GS when I sell it on eBay.

Is Your iPhone Home Button Faulty, Too?

Is your iPhone home button less responsive than when you originally got the phone? If you were able to solve the home button issue, I would love to know your advice for fixing it.

Solve the iPhone 4 Antenna Issue With These Decals

Update #2: Congrats to the winners: Ryan, Kristina, Ritchie, The Junk Monger, Rob, Zack, Mike, Benjamin, Chris and Mary. I have sent you emails requesting a mailing address. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Update #1: Amanda of CraftyGalDecals has offered to donate 10 single packs of the iPhone 4 decal wraps. Leave a comment on this post to receive yours. Let me know if you have a color preference.

Not satisfied with Steve Jobs’ answer to the iPhone 4 antenna issue? To avoid blocking the antenna signal when holding the iPhone 4 left-handed, Jobs says simply “stop holding it that way” or use a case. Gee, thanks. Jobs’ suggestions are not ideal fixes for many people, including Etsy seller CraftyGalDecals, who came up with her own smart solution to the iPhone 4 reception issue.

iPhone 4 Antenna Decal on Etsy

CraftyGal has devised a simple vinyl strip that blocks the conductivity from your finger from interfering with the iPhone 4 antenna. Although I have not tested the decals myself, they should theoretically work, considering an iPhone case has the same effect. As someone who sometimes likes to go without a case — to get the “real” iPhone experience, as Apple intended — I appreciate this alternative solution.

The decals come in a multitude of colors, and add style to your new iPhone without the need for a case. Plus they will protect the bezel of your iPhone 4. You can purchase them from the CraftyGalDecals Etsy store in single packs or in sets of three.

The seller has offered to donate a few decal sets to my readers, so leave a comment if you want one and I will select the winners by Tuesday, July 6. In exchange for the gift, I simply ask that you come back here and comment to tell me if the decal solved your iPhone 4 antenna problem.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

How Serious Are the Reported iPhone 4 Issues?

iPhone 4 Issues

You may have heard of the critical issues facing a number of iPhone 4s as early as launch day. Most notably, many iPhone 4 owners report a diminished cellular signal when holding the phone by its left bezel (where the antenna is located), others report shattered phones (not just displays), and some people have even had seemingly-permanent yellow spots on their iPhone 4 displays.

Should You Be Worried?

Let me say right off the bat that the iPhone has always had issues, and some of its problems are unresolvable. The iPhone is a stunning piece of hardware, but even Apple engineers can’t create a perfect product. My previous iPhones have suffered from a faulty dock connector, an echoing earpiece, shattered glass, a stained bezel and lately a weakened home button on my 3GS. It is inevitable that iPhone 4 will have its issues, too, especially over time.

Luckily, most of the time I had a problem (with the exception of the shattered glass incident), I got a replacement iPhone from the Apple Store for free. If your iPhone 4 has a serious issue, you will likely have no problem getting a replacement from Apple, as long as the incident is within the terms and timeframe of the warranty. Yes, you may be inconvenienced if you buy a faulty iPhone 4, but in most cases Apple will probably accommodate you and replace your phone without a problem. My experience with the Apple Store Geniuses has overall been positive.

Still, it is worth evaluating the claims made about faulty iPhone 4s, so that you can decide whether or not to take the plunge and buy the new iPhone just yet.

Here is my evaluation of the three main iPhone 4 issues, according to my research and best judgment. Note: As of this writing, I have yet to get my own iPhone 4.

1. Yellowing Screen

Yellow Spots iPhone 4

Some of the alleged problems may actually be non-issues. Consider the Apple support tech who said the yellowing on some screens is “residue from manufacturing” that will disappear in a short time.

Then again, other support technicians told customers to replace their yellowed phones at the Apple Store. We will have to see if these yellow marks disappear over time.

2. Weak Signal

The antenna in the bezel seems like a more serious problem. Many iPhone 4 owners report that covering the bottom left side of the iPhone with your palm or fingers causes you to lose reception and transmission.

Ironically, Apple placed the antenna in the iPhone 4 bezel in an attempt to improve cellular signal, but the placement is affecting the signal when the bezel comes into contact with your hands. However, when you put a case (or an Apple Bumper) on the iPhone 4, the signal issue goes away.

Could this antenna issue trigger a recall of iPhone 4’s? In my opinion, it is doubtful that Apple will admit to the problem, but if they do, I imagine they will simply tell you to put a case on your phone. We’ll see.

Update: Steve Jobs’ response to an inquiry on the issue: “Just avoid holding it in that way.” Or use a case.

3. Cracking Glass

iPhone has a history of cracking, and it seems the problem could be worse this time around, since the entire body is now made of glass.

One iPhone 4 owner, Jared Franklin, shattered the rear glass on his new iPhone after dropping it on the same day he received it. Ouch!

Cracked iPhone 4

I shattered the glass display of my iPhone once, and it cost me $250 at the Apple Store to replace it. Now I have to worry about the back of my iPhone 4 as well as the front!?

Judging by the amount of comments from my readers on that post who also cracked their iPhone screens, it looks like Apple is going to make even more of a killing off of the poor iPhone 4 users who drop their devices.

Don’t expect much to be done about this issue. Apple never has, and probably never will, admit that they are creating easily crackable iPhones. They will simply blame your “negligence” and make you cough up a couple hundred more dollars.

Time Will Tell

Clearly, the question of the iPhone 4’s reliability is a bit hazy right now. There have been early reports of potentially serious issues, but only time will tell whether these problems will plague a significant number of iPhone 4s.

For this reason, if you haven’t yet bought an iPhone 4, I would urge you to consider waiting 2 or 3 weeks to see how all this pans out.

Who knows? Maybe given enough complaints, Apple will acknowledge the antenna issue and correct future shipments. And maybe the yellow hue will disappear and the iPhone 4 screens will be undamaged afterall. But… don’t expect much to be done about the glass — cracked iPhone screens are a common occurrence, and Apple rarely shows mercy when it comes to replacing iPhones that have cracked.

As for me, I am not going to lie and say that I am waiting for the problems to go away before I buy the new iPhone. I actually called all around town today and learned that the iPhone 4 is sold out everywhere. I decided not to pre-order when I read claims that Apple would ship pre-ordered iPhone 4s a week late, but now I am without the new iPhone while preorders actually arrived a day early for many people.

Despite the issues, the iPhone 4 is a remarkable piece of hardware. If you haven’t gotten a chance to drool over it yet, go check out TiPB’s iPhone 4 gallery.

What is Your Experience?

Have you gotten an iPhone 4 yet or will you wait to see if the issues are resolved? Whether you have or have NOT had problems with your new iPhone 4, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.

iPhone Still Needs Better App Management, Notification Handling

iPhone Photography Folder

iOS4 brought some much-needed improvements to the iPhone in terms of app management. Now, apps can be grouped into folders and a multitasking panel lets you switch among active apps (for 3GS users only). The problem is, these features are underwhelming additions to a platform that should have had these capabilities as soon as the App Store was introduced.

Apple should have added folders to iPhone two years ago. What they should be doing at this point is paying attention to the details and making the app management process more fluid.

App Management & Notification Handling

Moving an iPhone app

As I began to drag app icons from page to page to organize my folders, I wondered why that process is so difficult. I had to move each app, one by one, across pages to its destination folder. Why can’t Apple simply apply the same select/copy/paste system to icons to make organizing apps a cinch?

iPhone Folder Select/Paste

Another thing that’s sorely missing from the iPhone is a notification handling system. The iPhone is far too advanced to be missing this feature. Right now, if I get a notification for an item in my Todo list and I close it, I will never see that notification again. iPhone is in desperate need of a notification handling system (like Facebook) so that I can keep track of my many notifications. If I choose to be notified about something, then it’s obviously important enough to me to be kept in a list of recent notifications.

iPhone Notifications

Too Little, Too Late?

It seems to me that Apple did not think ahead when it introduced the App Store. When the iPhone came out, everyone cried for third party apps and Apple told us to use web apps.

Then, the App Store hit the iPhone and you quickly had a mess of icons cluttering pages and pages of your iPhone. Furthermore, to this day you are still forced to keep Apple’s default apps on your iPhone, even if you don’t need them. I never use Stocks, Contacts or Weather yet I can’t delete them. How arrogant of Apple to force us to keep their rarely-updates junk apps.


Folders and multitasking are great, but Apple, please give us the following to make using the iPhone a better experience:

  1. Let us grab and drag multiple apps at once to organize into folders.
  2. Let us choose to delete default apps that are useless to us, like Stocks, Weather and Contacts in my case.
  3. Give us a history of notifications so that we can keep track of our important items.

These are the features I hope to see in the iOS 4.1 iPhone update.

What Say You?

Are folders enough or does iPhone still need some app handling improvements?

Will iPhone 4 Be Less Prone to Cracked Glass?

Cracked iPhone Screen

A few years ago I dropped my iPhone on the ground, cracked the glass, and paid a whopping $250 to get it replaced.

I wrote a couple posts about the cracked iPhone screen incident and have since received hundreds upon hundreds of comments on them from readers who also had bad experiences damaging their iPhone screens. A couple of lawyers even claimed Apple deserved to be sued over the issue.

Now, Steve Jobs has announced that Apple has developed a new “glass that’s 30 times harder than plastic” for iPhone 4.

Did Apple develop a stronger iPhone glass in response to the thousands of iPhone users who have made the expensive mistake of cracking their iPhone screens?

Hopefully fewer people will be victims of cracked iPhone screens once the new iPhone is released. Has this ever happened to you?