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Understanding and Preventing the Issue
I just recently came off a fun little experience involving my first generation iPhone where the touch screen became unresponsive on the top and bottom rows. The cause is unknown but I talked to a wide variety of Apple and AT&T representatives to get some guidance with the issue.
Let me first and foremost stress the importance of getting the two year AppleCare Plan when you purchase your iPhone. Even if you already have yours it does not hurt to pick it up. You also want to make sure that at the very first hint of possible problems to notify Apple. There are also several accessories to help protect your iPhone from damages.
Here I'll describe a few procedures to take to try and fix the problem as well as what to do if you need to ship off the phone for repair. If an app has frozen up on your iPhone, it can sometimes be easily cured by using the Home button to unfreeze your iPhone without taking any additional steps.
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Restarting Your iPhone
One of the first things that Apple had me do was to restart my phone. This is easily done as you hold down the square button at the bottom of the phone (below the screen) as well as the bottom on the very top right of the phone at the same time. This is the same as pressing the menu and middle button on your iPod. It does a simple restart of the iPhone and that alone may due the trick. If that does not work then you have to go a little deeper with the restart and do a restore of the phone. Fear not, you are able to backup your iPhone in this process so when it is restored you have the backed up file still on your computer with all of your information.
Continue reading onto the second page to find out how to restore your iPhone, send your iPhone to the Apple repair center, and how the Apple Store might be able to help.
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How to restore your iphone back to normal and what you can do if a restart/restore doesn't work.
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Restoring Your iPhone
This is done by plugging your iPhone into your computer and starting up iTunes. Click on your iPhone device and click the Restore button. Again, it WILL ask you if you want to back up your phone so you will not be completely lost when this is done.
The process can take a little bit so be patient. Once the phone restores check and see if the problem persists. If it does then you have to do one of two things. You are able to call Apple for a customer service representative. There you will talk to a individual, give some information and they can send you a box in which you can ship your iPhone to their repair center. The whole process is free and in my case took only a few days to send away and return back to me.
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Taking it Back to the Apple Store
You also have the option of going to your local Apple store and having them take a look at it. They may be able to swap out the phone on the spot if there is a problem or even fix it. If they can't they will at least send it to the repair center for it to be looked at.
Now if you have not purchased the AppleCare two year plan then you are still covered in the 1 year warranty that pretty much all Apple products have. The only thing you need to make sure of is that there are no cracks in the casing as this voids your warranty (I discovered this the hard way). Make sure not to jailbreak the iPhone as this may also cause a void in the warranty.
Apple still hasn't pin pointed the precise reason for the strips to become unresponsive on the iPhone, but they will do as much as they can to take care of you and get your iPhone back up and running.