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iPhone 5 Rattlegate

5864 Views 20 Replies Latest reply: May 18, 2013 8:47 AM by RJMcMaster RSS
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iSeymour Calculating status...
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Oct 21, 2012 8:32 PM

Just a few weeks into ownership of my new iPhone 5, I realized there was an rattle sound near the top of the iPhone 5 when you gently shake it or gently tap on the back near the camera light. This couldn't be normal, there must be an issue, so I made an appointment with the Genius Bar at my nearest Apple Store (33 miles each way), hoping they could identify and remedy that annoying rattle sound. After all, I did purchase Apple Care Plus.


I explained the issue in detail and demonstrated the rattle sound to the Apple Genius. He said he never heard of the issue before, so he started examining my iPhone 5 and quickly said he could not hear anything. I suggested maybe the background noise of the activity in the store was preventing him from hearing the rattle sound. I asked him to try listening for the rattle sound in a less noisy environment than in the public area of the store. He took it to the back where the techs work on equipment and was gone for about 10 minutes. When he returned, his first words were... "The rattle sound was normal, it's from the button on the top", "it's plastic" and said "it's within manufacturing tolerances and wasn't considered a problem". I was dumbfounded. I asked him to please explain to me how such a refined device such as this, with all of the hype and attention to detail and tight design specifications, could have a plastic button that rattles. That's kind of like building the most advanced spacecraft ever, and putting a plastic door handle on it.


I asked if there had ever been a "rattle sound" like this known on any previous version of the iPhone... he said that to the best of his knowledge, the iPhone 4 and 4S used a top button made of metal rather than plastic and didn't have this issue. I asked if we could examine a few of the iPhone 5's on display... we did, and discovered several but Not All of them, had the same rattle sound, again, he said it was normal. I asked why do some have the rattle sound and some don't? He didn't know why. Then he offered to replace my iPhone 5, "if it was that big of a deal". He further explained if I wanted that, it would be a "one time only replacement" and no promise could be made that any replacement wouldn't also have the same rattle sound, and if it did, it could not be replaced again.


I didn't understand why this rattle sound could even exist from one of Apple's new flagship devices. I'm not new to Apple products by any stretch, but this is my first iPhone. I expected more. I expected a quality device, one that matches the level of quality and reliability of every other Apple product I have ever purchased. I felt let down. For the first time, I started to feel as if this device might have been rushed to market and maybe quality control wasn't what it once was... 


At this point, I decided to test this "plastic button" to see just how loose it was. While holding the phone in my right hand (display facing down), I applied slight pressure on the top button (holding it still), and then gently tapped the back near the camera light, just as before. I was shocked! It still rattled! Being more confused, I asked the Apple Genius how it was possible for me to hold the button still, and there still had the rattle sound? He paused a moment, then said it was most likely the component that makes the phone vibrate. Still holding firm to the claim of it "was within manufacturing tolerances". I asked how could the source of the rattle sound suddenly move from the plastic top button to the vibrate component? He said that was a known issue and he knew of only a few iPhone 5's having been replaced for that reason. I started to feel as if he was being deceptive the whole time. How else could he have come up with an alternative reason and suddenly recall a few phones being replaced. Hence the title of this post... "Rattlegate".


I explained to him some of the reasons I waited so long before buying my first iPhone. I asked if he seen Apple's Keynote announcement for the iPhone 5? "Yes, of course I did", he said. Do you remember some of the claims from that Keynote wherein the following statements were made:


Keynote Quotes:

"what makes the iPhone 5 so unique, is how it feels in your hand"

"the materials it's been made with"

"the remarkable precision with which its been built"

"never before have we built a product with this extraordinary level of fit and finish",

"we've developed manufacturing processes that are our most complex and ambitious"... and so on.


For the most part, the Apple Genius remembered those lines from the Keynote, then he suggested I fill out a comment or suggestion on the website, and once again offered a "one time replacement" of my iPhone 5. I told him thanks for the offer, but I would pass for now, but would follow his recommendation of posting on the website... and here we are...


If you have an iPhone 5 and it has a rattle sound, please let me know (IF) and (HOW) you might have resolved this issue.


Thank You very much!

  • Jgeis Calculating status...
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    Oct 22, 2012 8:09 AM (in response to iSeymour)

    I too am having the same problem. I held out for so long in buying my first iphone, so when the 5 came out I thought I would finally take the leap and spend the large some of money. I too watched the keynote speaker on launch day and the promo video as well. The mention of precision and how every minuscule difference in components was taken into account when selecting the next piece during its construction easily gave me a sense of confidence when deciding to buy this product.  I began to notice the rattle in the upper portion of the phone about a week after purchasing it. I read some forums on this site where the mention was made that the rattle was normal with responses from apple staff like it had something to do with the camera and the lenses, or the vibrate motor, or maybe the power button. I have gone to the local apple store to find about 1 in every 4 display iphone 5's to have a rattle like mine. I asked an employee at the store about it and he said he had not heard about a rattle problem and said it's probably the vibrate motor and is normal. He also said in response to these forums that "people will say anything on a forum". Needless to say I left the store with no satisfying answers and not really knowing if there is anything left to do. I've been trying to just let it be and accept maybe the camera option for the cause of the rattle, but every time I set the phone down i hear the rattle and I am reminded about how much I spent on this 64 gb phone.

  • diesel vdub Level 7 Level 7 (20,710 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 22, 2012 10:23 AM (in response to iSeymour)

    iSeymour wrote:


    Just a few weeks into ownership of my new iPhone 5, I realized there was an rattle sound near the top of the iPhone 5 when you gently shake it or gently tap on the back near the camera light.

    There's a very simple fix.  I cannot believe that someone intelligent enough to find these forums, sign up, and post here cannot figure it out.


    Let me spell it out for you.


    S T O P   S H A K I NG   O R   T A P P I N G    T H E   D A R N   D E V I C E.


    There... very simple, problem never occurs again.


    FYI, a simple search of the forums would have revealed the same "issue" with the 4 and 4S.

  • sgeuter Calculating status...
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    Oct 24, 2012 12:13 PM (in response to iSeymour)

    I also have this problem. My 16GB black iPhone 5 got delivered today and if I tap the back towards the top I get the rattling sound everyone's been describing. I don't think it bothers me enough to try and get a replacement, but as others have said, it is disappointing. The way Apple launched the product really convinced me it was a premium phone that would definitely not fall short in terms of build. I guess it just reminds us that Apple products aren't all as perfect as they like to say..

  • molotovito Level 1 Level 1 (60 points)
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    Oct 24, 2012 1:01 PM (in response to sgeuter)

    The iPhone 5 has the vibrator on top of the phone, and if you've seen the vibrator, you will know it has a part that moves, even if its not "vibrating". Yes, if you tap the phone anywhere close to the top, you will hear a rattle.

  • Errk! Calculating status...
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    Oct 26, 2012 3:59 PM (in response to diesel vdub)

    Don't be ignorant. Think for a second instead of trying to sound like a know-it-all.


    You don't have to purposefully tap or shake the phone for it to happen. It does it if you set it down on a hard surface like a table, or if you have vibrate turned on and it vibrates while sitting on a hard surface.

  • Empire_1 Calculating status...
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    Oct 27, 2012 10:38 AM (in response to iSeymour)

    It's NOT the vibrator to the genious up there (molovito).


    I bought an iPod Touch 5th generation and I have this problem as well (and no, it does not have a vibrating feature). Right out of the box, as I set the device down onto the table to admire it, it made a rattling sound, as if some internal component was loose. At first I thought it might have been the loop. But after tapping the device in different regions, and setting it down on different corners, I realized the sound occurs from the camera region.


    I did some searches online and it apparently has something to do with the autofocus lens, and many iPhone 4 and 4S owners have had this problem too.



    If this problem was "supposed" to happen and occur in every device I wouldn't be nearly as bummed. BUT. It's not. Some iPods/iPhones have this problem and others don't. Some don't have it early on, but develop it later. Some problems worsen over time. Others remain free of the problem.



    It annoys me more that the Apple Store employees seem to be trying to cover up the problem, as they always do.

  • marcosbarrio Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Nov 25, 2012 5:32 AM (in response to iSeymour)

    Hi iSeymour,


    I have the same issue, let me tell you my story.


    I bought one 32gb white and noticed that had a metallic sound when shaking, took it to the Apple Store and replaced for another one, which did not make the sound but it had some sruffs in the side. I went to another Apple Store and replaced for my current iphone; 15 days ago.


    This new iPhone had the same issue, I shake it and I noticed this metallic sound, and what its worse, every time the phone vibrates, after vibration I hear a "tic". This tic it's not loud enough but if for example I am whatsapping in silence I hear it and if I am in a call and receive a notification I can notice and it is really annoying. This is not acceptable for such a "well manufactured product" of almost 800$.


    I took it yesterday to the genius bar and the opened it; they told me all was OK, and they screw all the parts that seem to be a little bit loose.  They told me that the worng iPhone are those which not rattle. I didn't noticed any sound in the Apple Store so I thaught it was OK.


    When I arrived home I noticed that the sound was there, not as loud as before but still.


    Today I sent an email to Phil Schiller and Tim Cook to ask to recognise this as an issue and replace all the affected vibrators, because this is something that happens in 9 out 10 iphones. Hope theuy read the mail and do something.


    <Edited By Host>

  • Chris092881 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Dec 2, 2012 3:16 PM (in response to marcosbarrio)

    Phil Schiller will not help you. Did you see his response to the scuffing issue on the i5? It's comical.

  • Stumpo Calculating status...
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    Dec 13, 2012 7:39 PM (in response to iSeymour)

    Hey iseymour, I have the iPhone 5 as well and whenever I tap near the camera is makes that lite rattle noise as well. I was very close to having a nice meeting with apples geniuses but I did some research and I found out that everyone has this problem, some rattle louder than others. My friend also just recently got an iPhone 5 and first thing I did was check for the rattle, sure enough it was their. Even my friends with the 4 and 4s have that problem, it's just not as loud because the two phones both have glass, aside from aluminum. I think as long as the phone is 100% functional theirs no big deal.

    Ps I'm in a way glad to hear that people in other parts of the world are having this issue, I thought it was only Canada.

  • jbwalsh Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 16, 2012 4:00 PM (in response to iSeymour)

    Noise Problem cured !!!


    My iPhone 5 made a rattling noise when shaken after it had "a few falls"


    I read in one of the forums that it was the battery coming away from the adhesive.


    I checked iFixit teardown of the iPhone 5 and noted the very large battery which occupies two thirds of the screen space from left to right (starting from above the headphone jack side).


    I'm not surprised that if it comes loose that it is the cause of the clunking rattle.


    One of the forums contributors suggested gradually pressing all the area of the phone on the outside that overlies the battery inside pressing hard between front and back over all of the screen area from left to right that fronts the battery inside. In this way one pushes the battery back on to the adhesive !!


    It works perfectly - Problem cured !! -  J B Walsh

  • GadGetGeek7 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 26, 2012 8:44 AM (in response to iSeymour)

    iSeymour, I have the rattle as well, but I think it's just the camera rattle that everyone seems to experience with the iPhone 5s. The only solution I found to this specific problem is that if you open the camera app and focus on somehting very close, after reaching focus, tap on the back near the camera and you'll notice it starts to go away. I believe, this is because the lens elements compact together making them firmly seated. The issue is that I guess Apple programmed the app to set the lens elements to go to an extended position instead of compact so the rattle stays. The solution, I imagine, would be to have an update made by Apple to the camera app to default to the latter position. Question is, how do we get Apple's attention so they see this as worth while?


    Also as long as you are experiencing this camera rattle, there shouldn't be any cause for concern. But if you're like me then something like this rattling will drive you crazy.

  • _Schafe_ Calculating status...
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    Jan 7, 2013 8:49 PM (in response to iSeymour)

    I am so glad that I found this. I have been having the same problem with my iPod touch 5th generation. It was really starting to bother me and made me think that there was something broken on the inside that would rattle every time I put it down. I wasn't noticing any problems with using the device, the rattling was just annoying. I am glad to hear that nothing is broken, but still, Apple should fix this problem. Especially because it is so widespread. I am disappointed to hear how you were treated by the Apple Genius. That should be unacceptable.


    And in response to diesel vdub, your "simple fix" was very rude and very wrong. Obviously, not tapping or shaking the device is only avoiding the problem... Not fixing it. But the most annoying part is that it rattles when it it set down, not just when it is tapped or shaken. When I first started reading your post I got excited to hear that my problem could be fixed. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed and somewhat angry.


    All this being said, I still love my iPod Touch. It works and feels great. Hopefully Apple will realize how many people are being affected and bothered by this rattling problem and offer a solution.

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