Tuesday, August 06, 2013

My iPad Scare

I've always enjoyed the slick and smooth touch screen of my iPad besides its super sharp retina display, although in recent months other devices have come up with screen displays and interactions that are equally good or better. Since I got it in April last year I've lived and loved with it as my daily companion and windows to the digital world. But over a month ago I found it getting sluggish and at times unresponsive. Well, I thought it must be getting old, or perhaps I've overused it, or too many apps were opened simultaneously. The natural reaction was kill the running apps to free up memory or to reboot and start with a clean memory. It worked for a time and the symptoms of a sick iPad began to appear. I began to worry my iPad, now just past its warranty, is showing signs of hardware failure. I didn't consider failing battery as it still charge up normally although I did notice it took longer to fully charge, a whole night instead of about 4 hours.

A fortnight ago the symptoms got worse. My iPad would behave normally for some 10-15 minutes then decided to hang for a minute or two. Pressing the home button won't cancel the running app. After waiting patiently for it to respond I could continue my work before it hang again. I thought it could be app related. I read that some apps may be corrupted and need to be uninstalled and reinstalled. I thought that is no sweat, even purchased apps can be reinstalled for free as iTunes recognized the account number. The worst case scenario is the iOS which if requiring reinstalling means I have to reset my iPad to the factory settings and restore from my iTunes library. Thankfully I had done a back up as recent as July 24 so my apps and data would be reasonably current. So being prepared for really bad news I rebooted my iPad to get to the Restore from iTunes step. But it refuses to proceed from the logo screen. Like handling a victim with cardiac arrest I pumped the chest (rebooting again and again) but to no avail. My iPad refuses to respond. Then I managed to get into the Restore step and quickly hooked to my PC and launch the iTunes. I was glad that I could get to reset the iPad and restart on a clean slat. But it didn't solve my problem. The Apple logo still display and won't progress to the home screen. The low battery icon started to show. Thinking THAT was the culprit I charged up the iPad for 2 hours. Nothing happened. For 6 hours, my iPad remain unresponsive. Rebooting it again and this time the logo won't even come on. My iPad was either brain dead or died. I was almost devastated and considered life without it. Perhaps by a different Android tablet.

I sought for solution. There are Apple service centers but not conveniently close by, not in my city. And there are no iPad repairers who openly advertise their services. I had to resort to asking around. At that time the cause of my iPad failure was narrowed down to either battery or motherboard. In the worst case, both. I found a repairer who have experience in replacing iPad batteries. It was an intricate and delicate job that I wouldn't try it myself. I met up with him and found he ran a self-own repairing workshop dealing with iPads, iPhones and other smartphones. He diagnosed my iPad to most likely suffering from a damaged battery that refused to recharge. He'd tackle from that angle and bought a new polymer ion battery. If that doesn't work he'd look at hardware issues.

I felt assured that my iPad was in competent hands. A day later I was asked to authorize him to change the battery as the original battery was already comatose. I gave the go ahead. The iPad sprung back to life. So the problem all these months was a failing battery. No wonder I had trouble backing up my apps before July, taking several tries.

After getting my iPad home I restored my apps and data. I noticed the restoring speed faster. Funnily, although I didn't remove many apps I found I have more free space than before. Could my old battery caused a misreading of available space? And I am able to now check the storage space usage by the various apps. And of course I no longer encounter freezing screen or apps that hung up on me.

So if you have never changed an iPad, or iPhone battery before, and you face similar symptoms, you may want to consider changing a new battery. I'm glad the problem wasn't as bad as I feared. The next time I find my iPad slow I know exactly what to do and who to send it to.

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