Apple Releases iBrick 3.1

In a move apparently calculated to draw attention from the Palm Pre, Apple recently released an upgrade to their iPhone software that turns the phone into a brick. The upgrade, also released under the alternative name “iPaperweight,” causes the phone to randomly become totally unresponsive and incapable of receiving or making calls without a complete reboot.

Okay, that’s faux-press-release snark — but the reality is anything but. Read on for the story that is anything but “insanely great.”

Many users, anxious to get the long-awaited MMS capability (available on other phones since before Kelly Clarkson won American Idol), eagerly applied the 3.1 update to their iPhones in early September. Since that time, hundreds of iPhone users have reported on the mysterious “coma” syndrome. (Stories here and here and here.) In addition to going into a coma, the phone apparently also runs a fever, since users report the back of the phone being extremely hot. Finally, the battery has a heart attack and loses most or all of its charge in about an hour.

And what of the highly esteemed, always Johnny-on-the-spot Apple customer service and support? Here is the official statement from Apple itself on this wide-spread problem:

::     { crickets }    ::

How wide-spread is the iBrick phenomenon? Take a gander at this screen-shot from Apple’s own support forum:

Yes, you’re reading it right — 134 PAGES of comments, with over 150,000 views. And not one word from Apple. Not an acknowledgement, not a “hey, we’re sorry, we’re working on it,” no announcement of a fix … nothing. Not even the option to downgrade to 3.01 or 3.0 through iTunes.

Which, by the way, is the only sure-fire solution. And it’s a giant pain, and even harder if you have a PC and not a Mac.

This has become a complete PR meltdown for Apple, as people who rely on their phone for their livelihood jump ship to Palm or the new Google phone or to any vendor other than Apple. And most of them intend to tell their friends, their friends’ friends, their family, their family’s friends, and as many random people on the street as they can.

Have I had this problem? Sure have — that’s why I’ve been following the discussion at, just to see how long it lasts. I turned off Notifications and stopped the problem for me, but that hasn’t helped others.

It seems obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that the FIRST step for Apple is to admit the “upgrade” is buggy for some people, say they’re working on it, and offer a “new” upgrade that is really 3.01 renumbered to 3.11 or so.

But in the meantime, you can apply the 3.1 upgrade and experience an inanimate object going into a coma, becoming a brick, and being useful as a paperweight.

2 thoughts on “Apple Releases iBrick 3.1”

  1. I gave up and upgraded my 3G to 3GS. No problems since then. But it was a damn nightmare for the two weeks I lived with the upgrade on the 3G.

  2. I think, along with the upgrade, you may also have gotten some new firmware, and a "fixed" carrier file. That is some of what people say they are seeing when they take the phone to an Apple store.

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