In an effort to reduce wait times at Genius Bars within Apple Stores, Apple this week will launch a new repair program for the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus in select stores across the United States, Europe, and Japan, according to several employees. Rather than completing all repairs in store, the new program will allow Apple Store Genius Bars to determine that these phones should be shipped to an off-site repair center if the issue falls into one of three categories:
If the device is unable to connect to iTunes on a computer
If the iPhone will not power on
If the iPhone does not boot up past the Apple logo
Apple has told employees that fixing these issues in the store takes significant amounts of time that could be instead allocated to serve other problems. If a customer agrees to have the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus or 6s Plus sent off-site for diagnostics and repair, he or she will be loaned a 16GB iPhone 6 to use in the interim. This is the first time that Apple is offering loaner iPhone 6 units to customers and repairing the devices for general issues off-site. Apple expects the off-site repair process to take three to five business days.
Mailing in iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s units for issue diagnosis, repair, and potential replacement is a significant shift for Apple’s Genius Bar operations. This means that customers now facing certain iPhone issues will have to wait up to a work week for their iPhones to be diagnosed, fixed or replaced while they use a low-capacity, basic model loaner device in the meantime. Apple Store employees say that a new automated systems within Genius Bars will determine if the device should be fixed on-site or off-site, taking away decision-making power from the employees on scene.
Of course, this program is just launching in pilot form and may not end up spreading to all Apple Stores across the world, so customers may end up avoiding needing to use low-capacity loaner phones. This would be a huge differentiator from the previous Apple Store Genius Bar standards, whereby a customer with an iPhone under warranty has been able to come in with a problem and leave with a solution, and it is unlikely that Apple Store employees and end-users alike will all enjoy this change.