My iPad mini seems to have a hardware problem | Dafacto

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My iPad mini seems to have a hardware problem

23 October 2013

My iPad mini seems to have a hardware problem. Frequently, when I activate the device by opening its Smart Cover, I find it in one of two states:

State 1: Possessed

In this state, the brightness control is visible, and pulsing up and down, on its own without any input from me, until it finally settles in the completely down position. Here’s a video:

Photo gallery at Flickr

Although I can authenticate with my pin code and use the device, the brightness control remains fixed on the screen and can’t be dismissed without a full power cycle of the iPad. (And, in this state, the brightness can no longer be manually controlled.)

State 2: Disabled

The other state in which I might find the device is Disabled.

This is the state the device gets in after too many failed logins. And if “Find my iPad” was previously enabled, you can’t recover from this mode through normal means. For example, if you try “Restoring from Backup”, iTunes will report that you must first unlock the device with your pin code—something that’s obviously impossible to do. Furthermore, logging into iCloud and removing the device from “Find my iPad” doesn’t help either.

When the device is disabled, you have to boot in Recovery Mode—by pressing the power-home button combination until the device restarts, and then continue holding the home button until it says “Connect to iTunes”—and then restore it from scratch, from iTunes. This requires a full download of the iOS software over the internet.

This—the device getting disabled—has actually happened to me twice now, and in both cases there was some mystery around its recovery.

  • The first time, I booted into Recovery Mode, started the restore process, and went to have lunch. When I returned, expecting to find the iPad in a "new" state and requiring a restore from backup, I instead found it completely up to date, with all my apps and contents. It was as if nothing had happened. Given my certainty that I'd need to subsequently restore from backup, I actually wondered whether the restore process had happened at all, or whether the device had somehow just recovered.
  • The second time, I was in the car and found it disabled while at a stoplight. (Yes, I was going to check email at a stoplight.) When I got home, the problem had cleared up on its own.
Visit to Apple

This afternoon while at the office, I opened the iPad to discover it in the “Possessed” state, and decided to immediately drive over to the local Apple Store, five minutes away, to have a Genius look at it.

The folks at the Apple Store, though, wouldn’t let me speak with a Genius, because I didn’t have an appointment. The problem, I explained, was that by the time I got an appointment, I would be left having to describe the problem to them, while right now, I can actually demonstrate it! Unfortunately, that wasn’t a good enough reason to break protocol, so they gave me an appointment for next Tuesday.

At this point, I can (a) leave the device as-is, without using it until next Tuesday in order to demonstrate the problem, or (b) reboot it, so that I can continue to use it, and then hope they’ll be able to investigate the problem next week with just a description (and perhaps the above video.)

Update: 2013-10-29 Replacement

Had my appointment at the Apple Store Genius Bar this morning, and given the combination of both a brightness anomaly and frequent “iPad is Disabled” occurrences, they replaced the iPad mini on the spot, saying that my old one almost surely had a motherboard problem.

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