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Apple dead pixel policy: one for iPhone, three for iPad

Sam Abuelsamid

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There are few things more annoying than opening up your shiny new electronic toy only to find one or more misbehaving pixels. While dead or stuck pixels are less of a problem than they were a few years ago, it does still happen. Manufacturers and retailers rarely go public with what their warranty policies are on these display anomalies, preferring instead to deal with issues on a case-by-case basis.

Our friends at Boy Genius Report gave the lowdown Wednesday on an internal Apple document that specifies exactly how many bad pixels must appear on a device before it is considered to be 'out of spec.' There are a number of thresholds that depend on the display size and the density of the anomalies. For displays up to 3.5 inches, which includes all iPods and iPhones, no bad pixels will be tolerated; even a single instance gets you an automatic replacement. On the other hand, your iPad needs three or more dark or bright spots before a replacement will be offered. Likewise, that gorgeous 27- or 30-inch Cinema display would have to show at least nine bright, 11 dark or a total of 16 bad spots.

Anyone that has dealt with the Geniuses at the Apple store knows that they have some discretion with repairs, and you can ask them to replace a component that's still within the 'acceptable' range if it's driving you batty. Update: The word from inside Apple's retail team is that if you ask for a first replacement product due to bad pixels, you should always get it, with no arguments and no restock charges (if this isn't your experience, ask to discuss it with a supervisor). However, if the replacement unit is still within spec -- which, for anything other than an iPhone or iPod touch, may mean more pixels depending on how bad the first unit was -- a second replacement is ruled out. You might want to open the product box in the store and check it before you leave (at least for the midsize gear; opening your Cinema Display or iMac in the store may be an issue without further conversation).

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