Update: See next post, "AppleCare let me down".

This morning, when I tried to play music on my iPhone, it told me I had "No songs" on the iPhone. I couldn't even use the bottom buttons to switch to video mode, but Settings:General:About told me I had "0 Songs" & "0 Videos", even though I only had 420mb free on the iPhone. I keep 4gb of music on the phone, so they were obviously onboard, just not accessible. No problem, I figured -- this is exactly what iPhone Restore is for.

Adding injury to insult, tonight I noticed that the iPhone kept raising the ringer volume spontaneously. I keep it in vibrate mode, so this isn't such a problem, but I thought my new Luxmo case was bad. Alex has one that's not quite right, so I got the other two models, and they're both quite flawed -- hard to get the iPhone out, and one presses on the power button -- I keep taking the iPhone out and seeing the prompt to do a full shutdown. I now suspect my problem wasn't the case, because I saw the iPhone's metal shell itself is a bit bent, and the volume up button is stuck in. Hopefully a belt holster didn't do that!

I plugged the iPhone into my MBP, and it picked up the iPhone's version, serial number, and phone number, but instead of 8gb, iTunes showed its capacity as "n/a". I tried to do a full restore, and it failed:

The iPhone "iPhone" could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (-18).

This was bad -- I couldn't get today's photos or PIM updates off the iPhone, and I couldn't restore it.

I reset all settings -- avoiding the full wipe in case I wasn't able to get data back onto the tabula rasa iPhone. I thought it might be a bad cable (unlikely -- it was fine yesterday), or bad Dock port on the iPhone (damaged at the same time as the volume control, perhaps?). I tried the MBP's other USB port, and Amy's MacBook -- still the same error -18.

I called Apple Educational Support, but they were closed. I called Apple iPhone support (800 my iPhone), which is open later (24 hours?), and spoke to a very nice fellow who couldn't find error -18, but talked me through putting the iPhone into Restore mode:

  1. Launch iTunes.
  2. Turn iPhone off (hold down top power button & swipe when prompted).
  3. Hold down Home button.
  4. Plug iPhone into USB/Dock cable.
  5. iPhone shows a picture of a Dock cable being plugged into the iTunes CD icon.
  6. Release Home button.

The first time, this didn't work -- iTunes didn't notice the iPhone. That was very worrisome, but the second time I tried, it restored the iPhone. Perhaps a full wipe (can be done with Home & Power on the iPhone, or from Settings:General:Reset) would have done it too.

I asked about the volume buttons, explaining the case is bent, and was told I can get a box and send it in, but return takes 5-7 days. My several PowerBook repairs have been consistently faster than the official time estimate, but this is still not a good option. The alternative is to bring it to an Apple Store and get it either replaced or repaired. They can provide a loaner "service iPhone" for $29, but this fee is waived as part of my AppleCare contract. Hopefully they won't give me a hard time about what's covered under AppleCare -- Apple's policies for what it covers are considerably more stringent than phone companies, who are very flexible about what they cover.

The AppleCare Protection Plan for iPhone Terms and Conditions includes the following:

b. Limitations The Plan does not cover:

...

(ii) Damage to the Covered Equipment caused by accident, abuse, neglect, misuse (including faulty installation, repair or maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider), unauthorized modification, extreme environment (including extreme temperature or humidity), extreme physical or electrical stress or interference, fluctuation or surges of electrical power, lightning, static electricity, fire, acts of God or other external causes;

...

(iv) Problems caused by a device that is not the Covered Equipment, including equipment that is not Apple-branded, whether or not purchased at the same time as the Covered Equipment;

...

(xiii) Except as specifically provided herein, any other damages that do not arise from defects in materials and workmanship or ordinary and customary usage of the Covered Equipment.

Unfortunately, the Apple "Genius Bar" always requires a significant wait, even with an appointment. The concierge site is currently down, but hopefully I'll be able to minimize the wait by making an appointment before I head in http://concierge.apple.com/store/R095.

Restoring was complicated by the stuck volume button -- it apparently kept registering during the restore, aborting the sync. I eventually got it all restored, though.