Some sites reported that the sound was completely normal, and that all devices make it. While coil whine — the probable cause of the noise I heard — is something I have come across before, I’ve never heard it on the many, many iOS devices I’ve handled over the years.
Others suggested I was exaggerating or fabricating the story entirely.
This writing didn’t line up with the experience I had when I called AppleCare after publishing my post. My call was quickly escalated to a supervisor, who sent me to my local Apple Store to replace the phone. They agreed that hearing a whine or hiss from an iPhone sitting on a desk was unusual and unacceptable.
While I’m glad that Apple got him sorted, I feel sorry for the feedback Stephen received and had to go through.