My American stay is drawing to a close. It has been good but I look forward to getting back to work and home in Japan, and finally getting my hands on a Rev-B iPhone X. All summer long I’ve had this fantasy blog post in my head that goes something like:
Apple has finally, yes really finally, issued a service program for iPhone X Suica users who have the iPhone X Suica Problem. Please see Apple Support details if you are affected.
I have no illusions that I’ll ever write that post, or that any of my posts will have any impact on resolution of the iPhone X Suica NFC issue, but I keep writing about it anyway. Why? Here is a recent story. I ran across a Japanese high school student on Twitter who had the iPhone X Suica problem. He hit dead-end after dead-end but finally managed to get an exchange for a Rev-B iPhone X at a local carrier store. I gave him the information I had gathered and he finally understood the problem he had been facing alone and excitedly asked if he could share it with his friends, which he did.
Nothing is worse than facing a problem alone in a vacuum. That’s the kind of person I hope to help by writing about it. I wish Apple would try to help them too. Unfortunately I think all we will get is the typical Apple modus operandi: ‘deny, deny, deny some more, charge for repairs, deny more, sell off all the faulty SKUs, admit it was actually a problem and refund the minority who persist in chasing us.’
Part of what makes the iPhone X NFC problem so frustrating is the difficulty of quantifying anything NFC. I was reminded of this when shopping for my Dad at Harmon’s grocery the other day. They have Apple Pay but this time the cashier told me, “You’re holding it wrong. The antenna is on the right side, hold it there.” I sighed to myself and held my iPhone X to the right side of the Verifone reader. It worked but doubt it made any difference: there’s nothing on the reader that indicates where the NFC hit area is, or even if there is one, and of course no audio-visual NFC user feedback at all. Another vacuum.
A NFC engineer source explained the difficulties of NFC testing: “Again, though, the real test with NFC is whether the card-emulating device works with a particular reader, and there are too many variables there to replicate with an amateur test setup – that’s why things such as (FeliCa Certification) exist.”
The vacuum is all there is to work with, but I’m a half glass full person even when it’s nothing. There’s always hope nothing will be replaced with something. I’ll keep writing.