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Apple Is Locking iPhone Batteries to Discourage Repair (ifixit.com)
361 points by miles 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 252 comments



Despite all the HN comments, Apple's made an absolute killing and charges FAR FAR higher margins for their products in part because they design them so normal people don't get totally f'd over.

And yes, the scam of a trash after market battery to make the iphone battery life look good is well known. And guess how many parents and grandparents then go to apple to "fix" something that has nothing to do with Apple?

The scammers are the people putting the bogus batteries in. Apple saying that the battery is not confirmed genuine is not a scam. Its the truth.

People can't figure out why apple can charge such ridiculous premiums on what is otherwise a commodity product. This is why.

From applecare to the activation lock to app permissions to alerting user to bogus behavior to app store quality to reversible charging cables - all the activities HN considers "anti-consumer" have helped make consumers value apple products. This will be one of those situations.

Now when you buy a used phone, much more likely to have a real sense of the battery quality in what you are buying. 3 year used apple products ALREADY carry a much higher premium vs android phones, this will help continue that trend.

And no, it's NOT that hard to replace a battery in an iphone, seriously, for all the folks complaining about that go to an apple store or buy a kit, and compare the hassle to doing the same thing with a android phone.


Apple doesn't want their customers to get f'd over you say?

You might want to check out Luis Rosmann's videos, a famous Apple repair geek who fixes for cheap the products Apple themselves misdiagnose[1] in order to rip off their customers[2].

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7RXJP4mxCc // teenager's MacBook's display is not working correctly so Geniuses tell him he needs a new motherboard replacement while Luis discovers in 2 seconds that the lid-close sensor cable is broken so he replaces it for $8

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2_SZ4tfLns // customer's MacBook's display is not working correctly so Geniuses tell him he needs a new motherboard and display replacement while Luis discovers in two minutes that the display connector has a bent pin and fixes it for free


It might be that Apple is not able to apply the same attention to detail that Luis applies to every case.

Luis complains that he can't find competent board level repair technicians to scale his business. The real problem is that it's a difficult expensive skill. Luis can't scale it, Apple can't scale it at a reasonable price either.

Human attention is expensive, that's the reason software is eating the world. Part of that means paying less attention to individual user's products when it requires less human attention to just replace parts in mass.

My 2 cents.


I love watching Louis diagnose and fix laptops. He can make good money charging $300 to fix a motherboard in an hour or two because he has done it for years but I can imagine even a very smart technician it takes 2-3x time starting out and I doubt he pays much more than $25-30hr, though maybe the business would be more viable if not in NYC thats borderline living wage here.


> Apple can't scale it at a reasonable price either.

That may well be but they charge premium prices and position themselves as providing a premium service. They're the only business that calls their repair staff "geniuses", so I don't think it's too much to expect a "genius" to not go for the quick fix. People expect more from Apple because of how they present themselves.


In both these cases had the actual hardware ever made it to the Apple repair depot (which has more expertise than the average Apple Genius and is not located on the back of the store, contrary to what Luis may think) then they undoubtedly would have come to the same conclusion that Luis did about the ease of the repair, and would have charged accordingly.

What Luis heard from the store was a preliminary estimate, not a final bill.

While Luis is certainly a master-level expert on repairs (of course he could easily find cherry picked examples that could fool a Genius), in my opinion he is a classic example of an Apple hater and comes to this with a strong bias and a highly self interested agenda which includes 1) promoting his repair business and 2) creating juicy “gotcha” clickbait for his YouTube channel.

Which is a fantastic chance btw... despite what I’ve said it’s a great channel for learning a lot about hardware repairs.


Both videos mention suggestions to buy a new computer because repair cost is close to the price of a new one. In such case, the computer would never reach a repair depot.

As to Rossmann being a hater, I too have seen so many stories of Apple denying warranty for made up reasons (liquid damage, etc) that it is very difficult to believe that Apple is acting in good faith when it comes to repairs.


Apple's warranty and their water damage sensors are absolutely useless. The water damage sensors go off if you are in a humid area and along with it goes your warranty. I had problems with my keyboard macbook 2015. Took my laptop to the apple store and was basically told that warranty is void due to water damage. I don't understand know how this is legal?


I suppose humidity can also cause water damage. Humidity is basically caused by high levels of water moisture in the air. Which water moisture, as we know, moves in and out of liquid form as it condenses and evaporates, sometimes unnoticed in places we can’t see.

Seems unfortunate that some environments are harmful to electronics, but what would you have them do, guarantee the product in absolutely any conditions?


If they're legally selling devices in these areas, then yes. I don't see why environment absolves them of any and all responsibility.


I think you should try doing what they do, but add on this warranty that fills the “responsibility” of covering all possible damage from all possible environments that can be found anywhere around the area... “the area” being the whole Earth, of course, since these devices are intended for mobile use globally.

Might as well step up and not shirk your obvious responsibility for covering impact events as well, since those occur fairly often in many everyday situations. Let us know how that works out for you.


I don't think it's reasonable to support hardware that was taken up Everest or on some Antarctic expedition - actual, extreme circumstances.

I think it's entirely reasonable to support hardware sold in 100% humidity central Florida where Apple is licensed to do business (covered under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.)


this is exactly the point, most of the times people just assume harshest weather condition and think we are asking them to support that the moment this argument pops up.


Like I said, if they're actively selling a device in a certain place, they should be on the hook for it if the device hasn't been designed to cope with the environment of that place. Not sure what's gained by the second most profitable company in the entire world being able to offload that kind of risk onto consumers.


Frankly I wouldn’t put it past Rossmann to make up that anecdote about the Genius suggesting they buy a new computer. That’s just not how Apple works in my experience.

As to your second point, I’ve had only positive experiences with them with repairs both in and out of warranty. However some of that may be because I always buy at an Apple store, rather than at third parties, because doing so gives their systems more visibility into the detailed history of the specific item I buy, and thus they have more leeway and discretion to solve problems in very nice ways. It’s likely that many horror stories you’ve heard are dramatized after the fact by people who went for a sketchy discount purchase and want someone to blame. People do lie, and liquid damage is a real thing.


> make up that anecdote

Apple got caught on hidden camera. Multiple times.

You can find plenty of these kinds of videos, but I think Rossman was referring to this one, featuring the man himself:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_XneTBhRPYk


Missed the edit window for a typo but fantastic channel, that was supposed to say, not chance. And, I would think, also a good business for him at this point.


Nothing in your sources indicate there's intention in Apple driving folks towards these repairs. Geniuses don't work on commission, they have zero incentive to tell people to fix things they dont need to. I think this is a Hanlon's razor situation where you're assuming Apple is malicious when really it's just lack of knowledge on behalf of some Geniuses.


No one is claiming that apple is training their geniuses to intentionally guide people to more expensive repairs. In fact they are accusing apple of a lack of adequate training, These guys just don't know that what they're saying is untrue. Apple's failed to train their technicians to repair anything. all they can do is replace.


The commenter I responded to literally said that the genius intentionally told the customer the wrong thing. They have since edited that part out. So yes, folks right here are claiming intent where there is none.


You can’t claim there was no intent either right? Whether there was or was not intent is unknown.

“It may or may not have been intentional, but I was guided to buy a more expensive option”.


Louis Rossman isn't really the best source for unbiased information: https://old.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/9pow06/louis_rossman...


They're claiming the factory wasn't authorized to manufacture the batteries, but that's only because they had an Apple logo on them, so he had them get rid of the logo, which is the only thing that requires them to be "authorized" for. How is that even controversial? It seems to be the opposite of counterfeiting -- making it so the non-Apple battery doesn't have the Apple logo.


Rossman tried to claim that Apple seized the batteries (they didn't: the DHS did, independently of Apple) and claimed they were counterfeit when they weren't. Except he was actually smuggling illicit batteries into the country (willfully obfuscating this fact by hiding the Apple logo) and then making videos claiming that they were completely genuine and Apple didn't want him to have these because Apple personally hated him.


They're only illicit if they have the Apple logo on them when they shouldn't, which is the whole point of taking it off.


…but then you can't claim that there were genuine, as Rossman did in his videos.


Do you have a link to the video? There is a difference between saying things like "manufactured to Apple spec" and claiming they were actually manufactured by Apple.



That's kind of ambiguous. He could mean original spec, as opposed to some junk using completely different components which is merely electrically compatible.

The fact that he's then comparing "original" with "counterfeit" goes against that a little, but it feels more like confusion than malice, or using the same word in two different contexts. Saying these are original-spec components without Apple logos and not counterfeit might be true even if the reason they're not counterfeit is that they don't have Apple logos rather than because they followed the spec.


There's nothing ambiguous about it at all, they are indisputably not original components even if they adhere perfectly to the original spec.


That's what I mean by using the same word in different contexts. Think AuthenticAMD rather than GenuineIntel. You have someone manufacturing components they're not claiming are Apple components, then they're original -- not original Apple, original That Other Company.


First off, Louis Rossman has made his fair share of stupid mistakes on camera and I am sure he's had his own work returned to his shop in the past. It is important to note is that he is cherry picking the worst cases of incompetence from across the country since he has many fans willing to send their Macs to him. Apple's Genius Bar services over 18 million users per year. There are bound to be some stinkers. https://www.cultofmac.com/185762/did-you-know-apples-genius-...

If Luis is putting in fake batteries and calling them real he is a scammer to. That's the topic here.

As to this claim that these examples are apple screwing over their customers - perhaps the frontline folks at a store can fix a certain set of issues, and if the machine looks dead (ie, no screen) they advise customer of potential cost and send it to a group better able to fix things?

I'm not that impressed with support I've gotten at other places selling laptops (walmart / target) but maybe apple really is the worst here.


I'm having a very hard time following your logic: Apple charges lots of money on commodity parts because they don't want users getting, as you say, "f'ed over"

There is a healthy after market ecosystem primarily because apple charges so much. Not the other way around.

Furthermore, in the video on the ifixit site, the blogger replaced the battery with a genuine secondhand apple battery and it would not recognize it.

This is predatory behaviour from Apple on its consumers.


I think we are seeing the predatory behavior of scammers here.

For example, you are claiming that just attaching a chip from an old apple battery to a new one should read as genuine in the phone. That is a total scam.

The detection feature is tied to a chip, not to the cell chemistry itself. If chips from old iphone batteries are all it takes to show a scam battery is genuine, given the high volume of old batteries, EVERY scam battery would show as genuine. This is a workaround already used and well known in other situations. To avoid this workaround you need to tie a specific chip in, not just any apple chip in.

Seriously - how do YOU propose apple alert the user to a bogus third party battery.


Show a warning, click ignore and be happy. Display battery information regardless.


This. I bought a second hand phone off some guy who does phone repairs in my area. Didn't realize the fingerprint reader did not work until a few days later as I had never owned a phone that new that had one and did not know it was supposed to work. When I looked on the internet it seemed that the reason was the home button was swapped out but without taking the chip that ties it to the phone with it from the old button. Asked the seller and he admitted that the home button was swapped, poorly at that. I still can not use the home button to unlock even though the phone is not stolen and I own it. So I personally am not a big fan of apple locking parts down. I personally had an iphone 4s up until half a year ago. I still have it I just happened to get an iphone 6. But my iphone 4s I have put at least 4 screens on it, a new battery, a new set of speakers and a power button. I laugh at the amount of work I have done on it. It is my Theseus iPhone :)


To phrase this another way: a third party made some modification to the biometrics sensor that is used to control access to your private data, including all of your device’s encryption keys, stored passwords, and payment information.

The phone detected this tampering and disabled the compromised component.

And you are disappointed that the part has been “locked down”.


That is not how I would rephrase it. And that is simply not true what you claim. Simply replacing the fingerprint scanner does not allow any access. The moment the phone is off the phone will require a password entered manually. Unless you suggest an actor can replace a home button all while not powering down the phone and I suppose that is possible but that to me would seem state level actor and they probably have other ways. So no there doesn’t seem to be a threat to my data if the fingerprint sensor is replaced. It would still require my password upon restart and if I failed to provide it at that point then sure good move Apple. The fact is they know they can force people like me, or people who’s home button is actually broken into their store if they want that magic button. Don’t kid yourself that they are doing this in the name of my security. But thank you for actually commenting I wish more people here on HN would justify their down votes with some conversation on the subjects. Edit: I realize that perhaps someone could swap the button without my knowledge and upon me restarting it I would enter my password and the phone is compromised. But in all honesty who falls under that threat model? Apple simply could notify you of the change and allow you to accept the risk. That’s all it would take.


One possible attack would be to replace the sensor with one that records the fingerprint the next time you authenticate. And then in the future it could “replay” the fingerprint image to the SEP (secure coprocessor).

If it were really Apple’s intention to prevent you from servicing your device, would they only disable the Touch ID sensor? Why wouldn’t they make the whole device inoperable, rather than make you suffer a minor inconvenience by having to use a passcode?

The less exciting answer is that the sensor was designed to certain security parameters and modifying it invalidates those. Yes, the threat model includes nation-state actors. Disabling the sensor preserves system security; designing for a potentially adversarial sensor is difficult and increases risk.


> Why wouldn’t they make the whole device inoperable, rather than make you suffer a minor inconvenience by having to use a passcode?

They did by mistake: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205628


What installing a malicious fingerprint scanner buys you is that you can unlock the phone. Which means all you have to do is require the user to unlock the phone (e.g. with a PIN) to activate the new fingerprint scanner. That protects the data that was already on the phone when the new fingerprint scanner is installed.

And as for future use of the phone, that's already hopeless, because if you have the capability to fabricate a rogue fingerprint scanner, install it in the phone and unlock the phone to activate it, you could just keep the original phone and replace it with a fully rogue phone that you've copied the original data to.


I am not sure I follow. (Edit: there is more to the threat model than the scenario that the device is being broken into outside of your possession. Consider just a fake part that pretends to authenticate you but sends a fixed fingerprint image or embedding or whatever to your SEP. You wouldn’t know but someone else could get into your device.)

But each device has a unique encryption key that is implemented in hardware. The flash storage cannot simply be moved to a new device. Cloning the storage and the hardware key is assumed to be significantly harder (and more costly) than replacing the sensor with something similar-looking (see any number of Chinese knockoffs).


> Consider just a fake part that pretends to authenticate you but sends a fixed fingerprint image or embedding or whatever to your SEP. You wouldn’t know but someone else could get into your device.

Which was the second point. They can replace the whole phone and you're in the same situation. Having two components authenticate each other just requires them to replace both.

> The flash storage cannot simply be moved to a new device.

Not the way they've designed it, but there is no security reason not to allow that once the phone has already been unlocked.


> replace it with a fully rogue phone that you've copied the original data to

How? This would require decrypting the data, wouldn't it?


But you just unlocked it. That's the point. If you can unlock the phone without it then you might as well accept the fingerprint reader.


Maybe I'm not understanding your "attack": are you not saying that the repair shop can replace your phone with a malicious one with your data on it?


You give them your phone and and the ability to unlock it, now they can copy all your stuff. The phone they give you back isn't yours, you have been pwned.


> the ability to unlock it

Why would I give them that? I'm handing the phone over powered-down and without revealing my passcode.


> Why would I give them that?

So they can repair your phone.

And they get the same thing when they give you the rogue phone back and you try to unlock it, at which point it sends the PIN to them and they can use it to unlock your original phone and then mount it over the network to display the same data until they've finished copying it.


Why do they need my phone to be unlocked to repair it? They just take off the back and put in a new battery.


We're talking about the fingerprint reader, which makes sense to require the phone to be unlocked to replace to prevent someone from doing it without your knowledge.

Though even that only makes the attack more expensive, because again, they can just replace the whole phone. Doing that undetected is harder because you have to connect the rogue phone to the original one as soon as they give the rogue phone what you need to unlock the original, which is a sophisticated attack. Though manufacturing custom malicious hardware already implies a pretty sophisticated attack.


I can't see the similarity to a battery though.


> And yes, the scam of a trash after market battery to make the iphone battery life look good is well known. And guess how many parents and grandparents then go to apple to "fix" something that has nothing to do with Apple?

This very situation happened right in front of me while I was waiting at the Apple store to pick up my 4yo 6s after a screen repair.

A helpless woman had strange issues with her new iPhone. Turns out it was a “refurbished” phone from a shady shop. The Apple guy went through half an hour of diagnostics and calmly explained all the little details (manufacturing date, battery cycles, actual mAh, various parts misbehaving and reporting obviously bogus information to the diag tools) that had no way of adding up, which led to the conclusion that she had been scammed (although he could not be sure so he never stated it as such).

As it turns out, no, you can’t get a brand new iPhone X for less than 200€.


I purchased a few iFixit iphone batteries and was less than impressed with their performance. I think what iFixit is doing is awesome, and I am a huge fan of them. I used their iMac kit to put an SSD in my family iMac and it made the job simple. The iPhone 5s/and iPhone 6 plus batteries I bought from them are trash though, and they lasted a few months before degrading severely. I took those same phones to apple and the batteries were markedly better.


I'm no fan of Apple's domineering attitude, and repairability is very important to me. If I have broken or worn out hardware not covered by a warranty, I will always attempt to repair it myself, and I usually research repairability before making any significant purchases. I don't own any modern Apple hardware.

That said, I think this mostly OK as long as Apple doesn't actually try to prevent replacement batteries from working. They could probably do a bit better with the messaging here, letting the user know there's not necessarily a problem, just that the provenance and quality of the battery can't be verified.


> People can't figure out why apple can charge such ridiculous premiums on what is otherwise a commodity product. This is why.

It's why they can charge such a premium for commodity batteries -- which is the problem.

> From applecare to the activation lock to app permissions to alerting user to bogus behavior to app store quality to reversible charging cables - all the activities HN considers "anti-consumer" have helped make consumers value apple products.

Let's apply this logic to history. Suppose Microsoft makes it so that Office doesn't run on anything but Windows and Windows won't run any office suites other than Microsoft Office.

Now you argue that Microsoft is doing their customers a great favor -- they can make sure nobody sells them a computer with some off-brand office suite that can't read their documents. But it's pretty clear what the problem with that argument is at this point, right? People should be able to make that choice for themselves. Corel shouldn't be able to call their office suite Microsoft Office, but it should still be possible to use it with Microsoft Windows when people are informed of what they're actually getting.

And then, does the fact that Windows and Office are tied together cause more people to buy them? Maybe, but not in the good way where people like it. In the anti-competitive way where you need Windows and some office suite and you choose Microsoft Office only because none of the others can run on Windows and the choice is forced on you.


After many hours and tiresome calls with Apple global support and getting nowhere I told them I must take the issue to social media so others might avoid the same issue. The service agent responded “we have a large team of people who respond to such posts”.

I wonder if they're required to disclose they’re employees of Apple. If so, they could hire an external company to do the Job.

Hard to know these days.


Hassle of doing it on an Android phone?

I pop open the back and put in a different battery. No tools required. And it's even got a decent water proving rating.


I've been on Android since the OG Droid, and I can't remember the last time I had a replaceable battery. 4-5 years or more.


I don't buy phones that don't have a replacable battery or don't let me flash a custom OS. This is true for all my electronics tbh.

I had to upgrade my S2 after 5 years of service because it was getting too slow for the crap people call a navigation app nowadays. Now I'm on an S5 that has easily kept up so far.


The hermetically sealed glass and aluminum phones don't usually let you do it but more sensible plastic bodied phones often still do.


Nokia 2.2 has a removable battery [1]

1. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/07/one-of-the-cheapest-...


It's hit or miss.

Some, while non user replaceable, are very easy. Others require you to take the phone almost entirely apart to replace it


A cracked screen repair on a recent iphone is $200, which I think is very high.

I think if they lowered the price of common repairs to "reasonable", then good things would happen.

If instead of becoming a source of profit, repairs became more costly to apple, maybe they might: make things more modular and repairable, make parts available, allow external repairs.

(I could be idealistic and wrong)


You're not wrong, but Apple won't do that while there are still people who accept and encourage this kind of consumer-hostile behavior.

But if you replace the battery with one from the Apple store it'll still say the battery needs replaced right? That's the issue - even with a new OEM battery. Only Apple can replace it and get rid of that message.


Well, it literally says the message is there even if you swap in a genuine Apple battery yourself.

Whatever, can't lose if you never play Apple's game.


Apple doesn’t sell genuine Apple batteries to anyone but authorized service providers who can only use these to install them in phones themselves. The only genuine part you can get is a second hand battery from a broken phone. Who wants that?


> The only genuine part you can get is a second hand battery from a broken phone

Sounds like a problem deliberately created by Apple.


It is a situation deliberately created by Apple. Whether it is a problem is an opinion.

How would you do this? Remember, the chips in old apple batteries can be removed and used in other batteries.


I doubt they would be. Even laptop battery BMS systems brick themselves so they can't be reused. It's where I get all my 18650's from. They are all NOS batteries that were never used and the BMS disconnected the cells due to fractionally too low voltage. Cells are fine but the BMS chip will never work again.


To give another perspective: I bought a used iPhone SE about a month ago and was worried about battery health because many sellers didn‘t mention it. After passing some more shady offers I found an SE for cheap (around 100€) that claimed 95% battery health. And I could verify that in the settings. Seller mentioned the iPhone was never serviced and only used as a backup phone. Perhaps that should have ring an alarm, but I bought it.

Two days later battery health was down to 71%. A week later the battery was dead. And of course it was not an original Apple battery by any means.

So, it might be bad communication by Apple, but for buyers a sign that the battery isn‘t original is very welcome.


I like the Apple approach here: don't prevent the phone from being fixed by third parties, but allow someone buying a second hand iPhone to check that parts are genuine and fitted competently.

If buying a second hand device, you want to know the screen and parts are original. If they are not original parts, you can still choose to buy the iPhone, but you are likely to offer less. Or you might just say no if you are nervous about batteries exploding, or security. That helps everyone avoid a market for lemons.

Third party components are very often lower quality in my experience. And if you've ever watched anyone fixing a phone, you would understand why many people don't want a phone "fixed" by phone technicians or DIY repairers.

Preventing repairs (a la error 53) is evil. A place to see unofficial repairs is fine so long as it isn't obnoxious (no popups) and doesn't arbitrarily disable functionality (Apple shouldn't report battery health of a battery they didn't fit, as they can't do so reliably. Disabling truetone seems wrong: it's ok if a replacement screen looks bad).

Disclaimer: generally I'm not an Apple fan.


I see your point and adding to it: I believe the title is missing a half-sentence. "...to discourage repairs, because...

Because of what actually? The "because" part mainly defines if Apple is doing "good" or "bad". Many people believe it is because they want to sell more new iPhones. I believe they're doing it to protect people like you.

Likewise: "iFixit wrote this article, because..."


I’m not sure how this is supposed to help you in your situation. In fact it has muddied the waters for all situations because now even perfectly fine batteries will show a bad battery status.


Presumably when the seller showed OP the phone, before money had changed hands, the battery would have shown "non original" or simple "battery no good" and the OP would not have bought it (or bought it for a reduced price knowing he would need to replace the battery with a genuine one)


Having a status page in the phone that tells you which parts are original and which are aftermarket is very helpful when you buy a used phone or fix your own in a shop. You could easily see if you're getting an original battery or screen.

Of course you should be allowed to fix your own phone in any shop and with any parts but this should be obvious in the phone to discourage fraud.


In the situation where you're buying a used phone, it's better for some fine batteries to show a bad status than for some bad batteries to show a good status.


This anecdote so closely matches Apple's messaging on the topic, it makes me wonder if you are an Apple employee. However since it involves aftermarket sales, I suppose it's prudent to assume not.

Let's look at it from a different angle. You got to take advantage of an aftermarket in order to find a cheap phone. In this case you got scammed, but for the time being you still have the option of getting a cheap battery replacement to fix your device with minimal losses.

Apple's moves are clearly designed to squash an aftermarket. I'd prefer to have the option to buy cheap old phones. I'd especially prefer to be able to replace the batteries on my own old phones.


What a typical HN reply. “I don’t believe you and I’m going to attempt to undermine your reputation by claiming you’re part of the enemy party”

Maybe it’s inline with Apple’s messaging because Apple’s messaging is inline with the customer concerns?


Actually my conclusion was the opposite, but thanks for undermining me.


I have had a similar experience, so it is not very uncommon for used phones.

My phone's battery actually started expanding and nearly pushed the screen off of the back. Apple wouldn't touch it, though, so I just took it to another 3rd party battery replacer.

If there was a way to have known that the battery was replaced by a shit one before I had bought the phone, I would've had a much easier time


Mind if I ask where you took the phone?

I have a Jailbroken iPhone, and I'd love to find a good non-Apple repair place for the next time I need to get my battery swapped.


There is an added incentive to do this with iPhones and Apple products in general though; because they hold such a high aftermarket value.

It’s quite common to refurb expensive things because you can be relatively sure you will get a return on it. Double so if you can refurb with discount parts.


My impression is batteries are more finicky, and things can go wrong more than other components.

Repair a 3rd party screen, the worse that go wrong is maybe your contrast and image quality is a smidge worse than original

But w/ all those reports of battery fires, explosions, or just duds, my suspicion is this is both more of a QC but also a "cover your ass" liability kind of move by Apple.


To be clear, you can replace the battery with whatever battery you want, it will just show a message saying it can't be verified as an Apple battery. The only user impact is being unable to see battery health. I don't even think I can see my battery health on my Android so I don't see it as a big deal, but definitely not great if they are hiding this functionality for no reason.


It won’t be for no reason.

If their battery health tightly calibrated to report on Apple’s OEM battery, it could provide misleading information about third-party batteries.

My guess is that Apple is bored of dealing with complaints about devices which have been modified by third parties.


Well, if they made the batteries easily replaceable without the device having to go to service they would not have this many issues. Of course their replacement batteries would need to be reasonably priced...


Anecdotes are worthless, but in the past half decade the only people I know who have successfully replaced a smartphone or pad battery have been Apple device owners. Apple has an easy, clear, successful program for replacing batteries, and most find the pricing entirely reasonable.

A friend did buy a Nexus 6P battery replacement kit from Amazon, but the process was so byzantine, and no shop was willing to do it, that they just ended up getting a new device.

I did like back in the day when I could pop the back off my Samsung Galaxy and replace the battery, but those days are gone and Apple is the only company that has any sort of concerted program to keep their older devices operating.


>Anecdotes are worthless, but in the past half decade the only people I know who have successfully replaced a smartphone or pad battery have been Apple device owners.

More anecdotes, but it's too bad you don't know me. I've replaced 3 or 4 phone batteries in the last decade. Needless to say, they've all been Android, as I've been able to do them all myself. Most of the batteries have been $30 or so and have given me years more life on my phones than I otherwise would have gotten.


> but those days are gone

Maybe for high end phones.

It's still a very common feature on low-mid end phones. My motorola g4 which I got just a couple years ago has it.


You realize user replaceable batteries with removable back covers are still a thing right?


I don't think that's worth it vs a slightly more rigid and more waterproof phone. Changing the battery is done 0 or 1 times in the lifespan of a phone, so making it a 10 minute affair is hardly too inconvenient.


Or available.


In the article, they say that Apples OEM batteries are also affected.


My guess is Apple is bored of truly innovating and now has to resort to nickle-diming customers to hit quarterly numbers.

Tim Cook put on his "Make Changing Batteries Expensive Again" hat.


FWIW, Apple is making a huge push into services. Services revenue is dependent on a large installed base, rather than quarterly unit sales. This gives them a huge incentive to make sure customers have a great experience for as long as possible after purchase (on top of just wanting to make their customers happy). If they're doing this, there's probably a pretty good reason for it.


That makes sense. ChBaaS (Changing Battery as a Service) is probably a huge opportunity for them.


Don't go buy a BMW anytime soon.

Have to recode the battery, and it's been that way for years.


Not sure why you got downvoted, but this is true. When you replace the battery in a new-ish BMW you need to recode/register the battery since BMW changes the way it charges the battery based on age and type.


I'm not sure myself. I am attempting to contrast one premium consumer product with another based on expectations. I think iFixIt and others knowingly sensationalize this stuff without looking for parallels elsewhere.

In the BMW community, we justify technical reasoning behind the battery coding of our automobiles' features, but apparently phones, with their comparable levels of complexity, are supposed to use AAA batteries because the company that makes replacement parts has a loud voice. Maybe I am mistaken, but this could be considered a double-standard. I am not apologizing for Apple, I have my own frustrations with the company lately, but I strive for consistency when I opine.


There are already COTS ICs for monitoring rechargeable batteries. These used to be built into laptop batteries when they were removable and swappable. Nothing prevents a phone manufacture from integrating the same into a removable battery to keep track of aging.


I profited from this:

Bought the code reader from AliExpress for $150. Then sold it locally once I was done for close to $200.

My biggest gripe was getting the battery in and out of the trunk.

Anywho, a half decent scan tool pays for itself.


Carly and ProTool are amazing tools too. :)


But then I’d be stuck buying software I couldn’t re-sell once I was done with it.

I’m also not the only driver and I like the idea of anyone borrowing it being able to pull codes at any time.


Even Chrysler is doing things like this. I had a hitch installed, super simple, all of the wires etc plug in to the appropriate places, but if you want to actually use the break lights, you need to visit the dealership to flip a boolean flag somewhere, otherwise the lights just don't work.


The only difference in a current Ford Mustang between making the in-dash vacuum gauge work for boost too is a boolean flag. So if you drop a supercharger on your N/A GT model, you can have your MAP sensor register in the dash as if the supercharger is OEM.


In my experience that is pretty common. My F150, for example, has daytime running lights ... in Canada. Another boolean flag, if I had a programmer I could enable them on mine.


Isn't that like, terribly unsafe? A lawsuit waiting to happen imo, if someone doesn't check the brake lights on their trailer...


brake.. I suppose.


Same with Porsche, but it doesn't actually hurt anything if you don't have the dealer install and code a replacement battery. The car doesn't nag you about it. The coding is primarily used to determine when the auto start/stop feature can be activated and for how long, but many/most owners turn that off anyway.

If Apple doesn't want to show the estimated health state for aftermarket batteries, that's fine, but they should have simply refrained from displaying that field. Displaying scary but meaningless warning messages just comes across as rent-seeking behavior. It will (or at least it should) encourage their customers to contact their representatives to support Right To Repair legislation.


I, for one, hate when my car is in the shop. That's why I haven't been buying BMWs.


Agreed, the spirit of Apple under Mr. Cook is vastly different then when his predecessor was directing--no, recreating--the company. Part of it, I realize, the innovation curve tends to flatten over time. If you can't make your numbers with innovative and powerful new ideas, at least capture the margin with vendor lock-in. For a good percentage of Apple customers, that may just be fine.


It will apparently also say/hide that if you swap two batteries of two identical iPhones that you just bought from the store. Louis Rossman's take on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlvlgmjMi98


Canon do the same; third party batteries in some cameras don't even show you remaining charge.


It's a very big deal to me. Apple needs a good smack to their financial jaw. This is ridiculously anti-consumer and it utterly pisses me off.


I partially disagree.

The simple truth is that the market for third party non-Apple replacement parts is super sketchy. In the US and other countries where it's convenient to purchase from a reliable site like ifixit, you have legitimate options. For the rest of the world, you have AliExpress. It's not a matter of finding a local reseller, you really just don't have many good options.

I opted for my own 3rd party replacement via AliExpress and a few other resellers who shipped to the country I'm in, and while the price was right (about $10 or so), the battery shipped was just trash. It did not charge properly, even when I wired it up myself, and once fully charged that way, the batteries turned out to be counterfeit and had labels posted over the actual capacities.

It's a mine field, and unless you have the technical background to know whether it's the phone or the battery itself causing the issue, it really starts to look like it's Apple making things bad. In my case, I have the rudimentary knowledge to know that I just was sold batteries that were not fit for purpose. Go to the most common online retailer for most US persons (Amazon) and you are inundated with shoddy 3rd party batteries, the exact same ones I got from AliExpress.

How exactly are they supposed to protect the consumer here when __not__ noting that this is an unofficial battery results in the phone/user getting the impression something is wrong with the phone, not the battery.

I love iFixit, but in this case, I feel maybe they're misjudging the situation. I'd totally trust a battery from them 100%, but it's not feasible to ship to my country of residence from iFixit. Many people in the world are in this situation.


I think the big issue here is that Apple seems unwilling to distinguish between reputable aftermarket companies and those that aren't. I can see how they're trying to protect consumers from shoddy batteries, but this goes beyond that. If someone hasn't seen it yet, there are youtube videos of people having their iphones damaged and not having their photos backed up. The Apple Geniuses and on the offical forums tell them, "No sorry, no way to get them back, because of security chip, all your data is gone." Meanwhile, 3rd party repair centers are able to make the phone fully functional again. Apple is straight up lying to their customers and will delete posts from anyone on their forum that even attempts to offer advice on someone who just lost a lot of valuable pictures/video/files.

This is just more of the same. Apple needs to be more open so reputable companies like ifixit can keep doing what they're unwilling to, due to low profits or for whatever reason.


Elsewhere in this thread people talk about batteries bought from iFixit lasting only a few months.

They don’t seem reputable.


I'd say Apple is partially to blame for the replacement parts market being shady, for three reasons:

1. You can't get genuine Apple replacement parts in such a way that the end-consumer can actually verify they are not counterfeits.

2. Apple charges an exorbitant brand premium for genuine Apple products.

3. Apple doesn't believe that unapproved persons are capable of repairing its devices correctly.

If one could order a replacement battery from Apple, at a price that approaches the actual cost of a genuine replacement battery, plus the actual cost of QA, plus the actual cost of splitting off single units from the batch and shipping them, most would never need to bother with sketchy third-party batteries. You could just buy an Apple battery, and either DIY replace it, or take it to an electronics repair-person that you trust.

So it is Apple making things bad. By refusing to recognize consumer right to repair at all, it is automatically excluding the possibility that there is a difference between a shoddy home-repair, and one that would otherwise meet Apple's repair standards, if only it had been performed by an Apple-blessed individual.

A shop that values its reputation would almost certainly offer customers the choice of OEM-original replacement parts, or brands known by them to be good, such as iFixit parts, if it could. As it is now, the only OEM-originals they can get, come from devices purchased new for the explicit purpose of dissassembly for parts, and broken, unrepairable devices that still have some good parts in them. That pushes the prices up.


Batteries have serious shelf life issues.

There would be nothing to prevent there being poorly stored batteries that are genuine being sold and causing the same issue.


Batteries fail on a predictable schedule. You can either design your whole battery-powered product to fail roughly when the intrinsic battery fails, or you can design the battery to be replaceable.

Apple is trying to have the cake, by designing a product with a longer except-for-the-battery service life, and eat it too, by making the battery intrinsic to the construction, and not easily replaceable. These are incompatible goals for product lifecycle. Either you make cheap garbage that may break before the battery fails, or you have to account for repairing or replacing a failed battery in a product you have not owned in any way ever since you sold it to the consumer.

The consumer-friendly way to go about this would be to offer OEM-blessed battery replacements by sanctioned professionals AND sell repair parts directly to anyone who wants to buy them AND publish specifications for 3rd-party replacement batteries AND publish instructions on how to replace the battery AND write your software to detect and report incorrect installation or out-of-spec replacement parts, while also actually accepting any repair done correctly with in-spec parts without complaint.

The "issue" is that the current software is essentially saying, "we know everyone in the world who can properly replace an Apple battery, and whoever it was that replaced this battery wasn't one of them". Rather than offload the cost of their brand protection scheme onto the consumers, they could write their word trademark and mfg date to the chip in the battery, read it from the phone to report as part of battery health, and prosecute battery-counterfeiters in civil court, on their own dime, rather than using some bullshit para-DRM scheme.


Your ‘consumer friendly’ solution seems like just the opposite.

Your propose a costly scheme that would require significant ongoing investments in engineering and bureaucracy to maintain in order to support a network of less reliable repair shops policed by a never ending cycle of offensive lawsuits.

Not only would that not protect the brand, but it would harm consumers through increased pricing, and harm the repair shops by targeting them with lawsuits.

How can this possibly be better than the current situation where people are free to repair the device and use whatever batteries they like, and there are no lawsuits - only a message on a screen buried in the settings app!


What's stopping Apple from selling the parts that they manufacture to third parties, though? If anything this is an argument for right to repair laws, not for manufacturers to further restrict how consumers can use their devices. The Massachusetts right to repair laws for vehicles already provided a good framework for such an electronics repair law.


So we going with "lock down the hardware and software" anti-consumer Apple, or "spy on everything" anti-consumer Google?


Google'a shit is more easily mitigated if you're smart and want an only slightly less great browsing experience


Google's phones track you in several ways that aren't through a browser. Want to see every place you've ever visited since you got your Android phone? Google has it and you can see it in your dashboard.

Google keeps location tracking a secret from you until you view your data, then once you go look at it, they start sending you monthly summaries of your travels.

Any don't get me started on the facial recognition in Photos. Take a photo of someone else's kids, and it will show you a helpful popup asking if you want to send the photo to the kid's parent.


You can turn off Location History (and may other things) here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols

It's not a secret and I believe you have to opt in at some point.

I believe you can turn off facial recognition in Photos' settings.

Disclaimer: I am a Google employee, my opinions are my own.


While it’s certainly not something I’d want my mom to do, for someone technically knowledgeable, these things are not hard to prevent.


> and want an only slightly less great browsing experience

You mean far superior because Firefox actually has extensions for their mobile browser?


yeah but if you're running no-script you're not going to have as good of a browsing experience


Subjective. But then there's always uBlock Origin, which blocks crap automatically without breaking stuff. Who wouldn't want that on their phone?


Even with an Android phone?


What's anti-consumer about explicitly not reporting inaccurate information to the user? Don't get me wrong, Apple does need a fist down their throat, but over this?


What sets me off is if you replace your battery with a genuine apple battery. I can certainly understand if it's a 3rd party battery missing some feature the phone needs to assess battery information. This just flies in the face of the whole right to repair movement and for no other reason than pure greed.


I view this as Apple not vouching (in the form of verifying/stating the health of a battery) unless THEY have a complete 'chain-of-custody' for the battery.

Honest question: How can Apple KNOW it's a genuine apple battery, if it's not replaced from THEIR inventory? Moving a battery from one phone to another doesn't really mean anything, as the article states you can move the TI chip from one battery to another battery. Seem to me then that the underlying battery can be something other than the GENUINE battery.

Amazon is replete with fraudulent SD cards pretending to be one make/capacity when in reality they're not the same quality/size as a real card.


Getting a genuine battery is probably the bigger problem there. For an average joe, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of any "genuine" battery they find being a counterfeit.


This is acceptable?

Honestly, we should stop Apple-ogizing[0]. They are getting very user hostile. They should acknowledge and support end users right to repair.

[0] Groan.


EDIT: Per Betelgeuse90 comment below, my characterization of the situation was incorrect. Apple's behavior is anti-competitive. I am leaving my original comment here for posterity.

Original comment:

I love jumping on the apple hate train as much as the next person, but this is not a valid reason to do so.

Depending on the aftermarket battery, those reported values could be completely wrong / misleading to the user. If you are looking for proof, just buy a random battery off amazon for your computer and tell me how accurate the current reported charge is.

Plus, I would like to know if a used device I buy has a non-OEM battery. As long as it stays in that settings screen and doesn't turn into a consistent annoying pop-up (or doesn't stop the user from upgrading, as was the case with the home button debacle of days passed) I don't think this deserves the outrage.

Also, the title is a bit misleading. Nothing is being locked, the device functions as it should. An ideal solution would be that apple allows third party battery manufacturers to go through a certification process so apple could ensure quality control. Fat chance in you-know-what apple would ever do that.


To be fair, you'll get the "service battery" message even if you place an original Apple battery in the iPhone. A used device that was serviced perfectly well but not by Apple will still display this message. All this means is that the battery wasn't replaced by Apple themselves.


The only way for apple to make sure that the replacement battery is original is by doing the replacement themselves.

Or DRM. Do you want battery DRM?


Isn't that what the battery chip is?


Good catch! I will adjust my original message with an edit. That is straight up anti-competitive. Egg on my face for giving apple the benefit of the doubt.


To be even more fair... ;) We don't know what Apple does when they replace batteries for customers. Maybe there's a calibration process or something of the sort. After all they're reporting battery health, which nobody else does, and that's notoriously difficult to get right. I think there's still room for giving the benefit of the doubt. We're just assuming that all they do is plop a battery with an Apple logo on it and call it a day, but we don't know that.


They replace the whole phone. They do not swap batteries when you bring it in for a battery replacement.


That’s not true. They may replace the phone sometimes but I’ve only ever had them replace the battery.


I've had 4 battery replacements and Apple has never done anything other than exchange the whole phone.


I've had 2 battery replacements and both times they only replaced the battery.


That has not been my experience. They will swap the battery as long as there is no reason to believe it has damaged the phone (if it has swelled at all, they replace the phone).


How is it anti-competitive if the swapped battery works perfectly fine? Who cares about what the battery status page says?


A company that cares about eroding trust in third-party repairs shops getting blamed for ripping off their customers when the battery still reports as broken.


It’s not reporting as broken; it’s just reporting as “not our problem if it fails.”

The Right-to-Repair discussion often ignores a key problem companies have: figuring out whether a device is under warranty (i.e. whether they’re obligated to repair the device for free) when it’s submitted for repair.

Some repairs make themselves obvious, and so make the removal of warranty obligation obvious. Other repairs—like third-party battery replacements, done following the Apple process for repair and with Apple OEM components—make the warranty status of the device illegible. If the phone accepted a new Apple OEM battery without saying anything about it, the user might be misled into thinking that the device is still under warranty. But it’s not. It’s been repaired by a non-authorized third-party. It’s no longer Apple’s fault if the device breaks, because that third party may have screwed things up inside the device in any number of ways.

This is, in a sense, a “chain of trust” thing. It’s the same reason Chromebooks have that on-boot warning in development mode. The user needs to be aware that the chain of trust between the OEM and the end-user has been broken; and that, when that happens, anything may potentially have been done to the device.

That’s not to argue against Right-to-Repair. Non-authorized third-party repair shops should have every right to operate as businesses, and end-users should have every right to do business with them. But Apple also should have every right to warn users that the chain of trust has been broken—because it has. The user knowingly broke it themselves! (And, of course, Apple shouldn’t have the right to misconstrue breaking the chain of trust as anything more than that. The battery health is unknown because it’s not an Apple-certified repair, certainly; but that doesn’t mean that the battery is bad, and it would be anti-competitive to claim that.)


"Needs service" is the same as reporting that it is broken. Another thing is that warranty covers manufacturing defects so, for example, it is unreasonable to automatically void warranty for a screen just because the battery was replaced.


> for example, it is unreasonable to automatically void warranty for a screen just because the battery was replaced.

I get where you are coming from but this isn't so cut and dried, as incompetent repairs are certainly capable of damaging or destroying other components. Someone I know once unknowingly messed up an antenna in the process of replacing a phone battery with an after market one, which caused all sorts of odd and intermittent symptoms with communication issues. Why should a manufacturer be expected to deal with that under warranty?

Part of the problem with consumer electronics is that they aren't really particularly designed to be serviceable, let alone user-serviceable. So it's not like a car manufacturer saying they'll refuse to warranty a rear shock because you changed your own oil or whatever.

I'm a strong supporter of right-to-repair, but I'm not convinced that should extend to forcing user serviceable designs where there is an actual design tradeoff. On the other hand this is pretty hard to prove - maybe all you can do is go after user-hostile design changes that serve no other purpose.


I completely agree that manufacturer is not responsible for badly done 3rd party repairs which have broken things. My point is that warranty should be denied only in cases where someone (either manufacturer itself or an independent 3rd party) can prove that a component broke because of a bad repair.


There’s a big gap between this and a one-time alert and/or annotation that can be pulled on the device by a service technician. Cutting off battery status just seems petty


Does the battery work perfectly fine? At that point, the battery status page is broken, so it's hard to say.


Theoretically they could properly detect a crappy replacement too by doing some basic math to determine approximate capacity. I'm not sure of the situation on iOS but on Android tools like Accubattery do a decent job of this. As such, even requiring an Apple original battery would be poor practice in my opinion.


> Theoretically they could properly detect a crappy replacement too by doing some basic math to determine approximate capacity

sigh

If such "basic math" exists, can someone please point me to it? Estimating capacity on a fully known, completely characterized cell is the bane of my existence.

Basic math that can help estimate approximate capacity of an unknown replacement battery- that's a billion dollar startup worthy technology right there.


Please explain, what exactly are you doing that the standard look at the charge curve and compare with battery voltage and use known charge current and time won't solve? This is pretty much how all the battery capacity estimators work to my knowledge.

As long as the chemistry is known it should hold true, sure, you'll get some variation based on load but you should be able to account for that pretty with some testing or careful probing at minimal current draw.

Accubattery seems to give a pretty good approximation using just this information at least, would definitely be sufficient for detecting cells that were fraudulent by more than 10-20%. If you want higher accuracy, yeah I'm sure things could get extremely involved, but many of the fraudulent batteries are 25-50% of the expected capacity.


> Please explain, what exactly are you doing that the standard look at the charge curve and compare with battery voltage and use known charge current and time won't solve?

If only it were that simple. In the real world, when you have a load that’s drawing from the battery, the voltage across the terminals will be different from the voltage on an open circuit for the same battery at the “battery level” (state of charge is the commonly used term)

To make matters worse, the life of the battery remaining at any point depends upon the current drawn from it. If you were to draw a smaller current, it’ll last longer - and this is purely because batteries are weird and has nothing to do with the charge curve. For something like a LED flashlight that always draws the same current - this isn’t a problem. A modern smartphone on the other hand is essentially unpredictable.

Then you have the numerical problem with integrating current over time - the errors add up over time too! Now you have to measure the current out of the battery with a high sampling rate with a great adc - it’s a massive power draw. Most modern fuel gauge ICs are moving away from measuring current because of all the trouble with cumulative errors.

I can go on for a while longer, but I think you get the picture.

> Accubattery seems to give a pretty good approximation using just this information at least, would definitely be sufficient for detecting cells that were fraudulent by more than 10-20%

Accubattery can afford to monitor multiple charge and discharge cycles before converging on a battery model. A smartphone needs to know what battery it has when you plug in your newly replaced battery to charge it for the very first time to ensure it doesn’t become a fire or safety hazard. Similar concerns with discharging a battery. Look up the exploding Samsung Galaxy note 7 for an example of how serious this can be.

> As long as the chemistry is known it should hold true, sure, you'll get some variation based on load but you should be able to account for that pretty with some testing or careful probing at minimal current draw.

If only it were this easy. I’ve had battery vendors - the people who make this stuff - give me specs on charging that battery that would kill the battery in 250 charge cycles.

It’s a very bizarre field to work in - many times, you can get away with very crude approximations and no one can tell the difference. But once in a while, a very very tiny deviation from the spec will give you exploding devices and have your product be announced as a safety hazard in every flight before take off (yay! free publicity...)

The challenge is that you never know when you can get away with something and when 1 in a million devices will explode on a tech journalist/reporter/reviewer.

With batteries, esp with Lithium Ion cells, nobody is going to take chances with approximations.


> A smartphone needs to know what battery it has when you plug in your newly replaced battery to charge it for the very first time to ensure it doesn’t become a fire or safety hazard.

This is just plain silly, even Apple's current implementation doesn't prevent it charging the battery even if you plugged a garbage one in. Indeed they have the very same luxury of monitoring many charge cycles.

Immediately rejecting the battery and refusing to charge doesn't seem to be an implementation any phone manufacturer today has chosen.


I'm willing to bet Apple has seen counterfeit batteries that claim to be Apple batteries and this is a reaction to that.

The other stuff this article claims was designed to stop third-party repairs, such as the stuff to do with Touch ID, was actually security-related (basically, the device couldn't trust Touch ID anymore after the repair). I hadn't heard about True Tone disabling before, but that's probably because AIUI each device's screen is individually calibrated in the factory, and if you swap the screen yourself then you've lost that calibration.


> I'm willing to bet Apple has seen counterfeit batteries that claim to be Apple batteries and this is a reaction to that.

People are still going to send Apple their phone and say, "why is my phone displaying this message?", which support is going to have to deal with. This isn't going to all the sudden save Apple money on support.


No but it's going to prevent a PR disaster when a phone's "Apple" battery explodes.


How would it be a disaster? All they have to do is determine it's a third party battery and all the tech blogs move on.


By then the damage to the brand has already been done.


The chances of a fire are slim otherwise we’d hear more about it. And seriously, everyone has already forgotten about samnsung’s exploding phones.


That's not how PR works, unfortunately.


I am going to pay 49€ for iPhone 6 original battery replacement in coming weeks. It’s still many times cheaper than buying new phone. Ifixit wants 20€ only for compatible part, so I think, Apple’s 49€ inclusive half hour technician work is very good deal.

I work as an electrical engineer and understand Apple’s position very well. Nobody wants, that user try to service their devices. Some get lucky and device works fine, but majority end up wanting free support for their failures. Especially when YouTube is full of tutorials teaching untrained folks how to do even complicated repairs. Without proper skill it ends up very quickly in a disaster <- see this daily in my job.


I took an iPhone SE to an Apple Store for a battery replacement program last year. Spent 4+ hours waiting with minimal status updates until the genius finally came back out to say that the battery was replaced but TouchID was now broken, they didn't have any replacement parts and it would take a week for a refurbished unit to arrive. Had to pay to take the broken phone away with no other recourse. Six months later, the battery is bad again...


Went to their repair center with 2 phones. 1 hour later went home with 2 fresh phones. Amazing experience, but heard, it’s not that good in big cities.


Heard of friends getting new phones immediately in LA, so it happens here too.


Changing the battery in an iPhone 6 is easy with the iFixit kit. I've done it. Even if you somehow manage to catastrophically screw up, it is a 5 year old phone.


I replaced the screen and battery by myself on other iPhone 6. First time I damaged cable of the front camera. 5€ used with shipping. Second repair went smoothly. Original display was something crazy expensive as 180€. 30€ display from Amazon was ok for 5 year old phone.


It's ridiculous that you need to pay someone to plop in a battery.


There used to be a time when swapping a battery could be done by a 7 year old, but then companies decided to make it more difficult. People should be servicing their own stuff, but that obviously doesn't help Apple's bottom line.


I'm on the fence about this. On one hand, I can agree with the folks that are unhappy about Apple locking out small retailers. On the other hand, I can see how Apple would want to protect its image. In my personal experience, I've had a few friends have their batteries replaced at kiosks in the mall and have experienced issues. Do they blame the random vendor in the mall? Nope, they blame Apple and have decided "the iPhone sucks."

Third party battery replacements aren't even that much of a savings over having Apple do it.

https://support.apple.com/iphone/repair/battery-power

$49 for the "iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and all other eligible models." Those are the ones that now have batteries that are probably wearing down more.

You have to go to an Apple Authorized Service Provider to have the replacement done. But guess what? Best Buy locations are now AASPs as well and they can do it.

I'm ok with that.


Is it legal from competition laws to lock your product?

Sherman anti trust law “Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States”

Someone could argue that monopolize battery repair is a form of monopoly. I understand the battery safety part from Apple though.


>>"Technically, it is possible to remove the microcontroller chip from the original battery and carefully solder it into the new battery you’re swapping in, restoring the Battery Health feature—but the procedure isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s an unreasonable requirement for any repair, much less something as simple as a battery swap."<<

it seems a razor and a low wattage solder iron will fix it. and im guessing a few little guys may end up fattening thier wallets this way. Im wondering how apple might catch the play, and how they would change the hardware so a chip transplant is no longer a workaround.


The chip could keep encryption keys in RAM (since it’s always powered by the battery and there’s always gonna be enough juice in there to power it given its tiny power consumption) and if the chip loses power (due to being desoldered) the keys are lost preventing the phone from authenticating it.


Clip bypass battery to the power/gnd pins while desoldering and resoldering.

Read RAM image before desoldering. Write image to RAM after resoldering.

For that matter, read RAM image from old battery and write it to new battery, no soldering required. Or MITM the connection between phone and battery, and the bypass device can pass-through battery health information while intercepting and responding to authentication-related signals.

You will never be able to enforce hardware security indefinitely against an attacker with device-in-possession.


What if the chip uses asymmetric cryptography for authentication with a private key stored in it, impossible to recover, just like a credit card? In this case it can’t be spoofed by intercepting the comma between the phone & chip, private key can’t be extracted, etc.

Sure, a bypass battery is possible. The point here isn’t 100% security (which as you say is impossible), it’s to make the operation difficult enough that most give up or have to charge more than an official battery replacement.


Impossible?

Dissolve the chip casing in fuming nitric acid and use probe needles. The official pins are not the only way to interface with the silicon, when you have device-in-possession.

Use a timing attack. Find a collision.

It is very likely that the same private key is locked up inside every chip, and one reverse-engineer, probing one of them once, can compromise the key for all of the chips manufactured before their publication date, and probably would last until the OEM ran out of those chips, and then deprecated the key after some time with a software patch. The one-time cost would be worth it for any manufacturer of off-brand batteries.

The battery controller chip is not going to be an impenetrable security vault, in any case. The cost of parts is a factor, even for Apple.

Asymmetric keys don't work if the attacker is in possession of the private key, no matter how many padlocked boxes you put it in. The attacker has the key, and getting it out in usable form is a matter of time, not possibilities.


Payment cards seem to be keeping secrets locked down despite there being huge financial incentives to crack them.

If nobody does it for payment cards, there’s no way they’ll bother doing it for smartphone batteries.


Great, leave the device unplugged for a few weeks and any residual charge will drop off enough to invalidate your battery keys. That'd be a shit show.


If the battery voltage drops that low, the battery will never charge again anyway.


I mean, I hope you're leaving some distance between your RAM and the cutoff.


I wonder if micro fluctuations in battery output voltage and current (due to manufacturing variations) could be used to 'fingerprint' a battery. Encrypted transmission of this fingerprint between the battery chip and the OS = invalidate the battery if the fingerprint suddenly changes.


I imagine that's not feasible when you consider battery decay.


Have we all forgotten that mobile phone battery replacement was just this easy[0] not too long ago?

Now, even a phone listed in "9 Best Phones With Removable Battery In 2019"[1] has a battery replacement process like this[2].

[0] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sxdXuKbivQ&t=1m0s

[1] https://thedroidguy.com/2019/06/9-best-phones-removable-batt...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY07MujU2pM


Last time I remember having any easy access was the Galaxy S3. Pop open the back, swap battery. Done. I would even carry spares when on vacation if I needed some extra juice.


Galaxy S5 has fully replaceable batteries as well. As a phone, I'd say it still holds up rather well as a lower end mid-range phone today.

I'm holding onto it until Librem Phone comes out, which also has a replaceable battery.

Having phones with non-replaceable batteries just seems incredibly wasteful to me, so I won't ever buy one on general principle.


Your comment pretty much dismisses the validity of Apple being anti-competitive. You don’t like their product, thus you bought an alternative that meets your needs. If Apple was anti-competitive, you wouldn’t be able to buy an alternative.

Apple has a monopoly for Apple phones, but that isn’t a monopoly. If you buy an Apple product, you are agreeing to buy an Apple product with all that entails. If you want a user replaceable battery, you buy a different phone. Apple isn’t using market dominance to prevent you from buying alternatives. If Apple owned a majority of the battery market and created a monopoly on batteries, that’s different than them controlling the batteries in their own product. Apple’s actions don’t have any bearing on someone’s ability to buy a repair a phone — just the ability to buy and repair an Apple phone.


The point of my comment was not to validate anything about Apple.

If you actually read what people write fully instead of projecting what you want to hear, you'll be a much better conversationalist.

Thank you.


I expect intelligence agencies hates removable batteries.


Why?


Because users can just pull the battery and kill their compromised baseband processor.


I don't have a problem with Apple showing whether the Battery is replaced or using genuine Apple Battery. My problem is that replacement done by Apple is both too costly and too time consuming.

Current iPhone X / XS / XR Battery Replacement is $69, which is roughly double the price of being replaced on streets with similar battery. Now of course there are scammers who tries to replace a crappy battery, but going to well know Repair Shop normally prevent that from happening.

I would have no problem paying double the price for an Apple Store replacement, except not only would have I have to wait hours or days for replacement depending on which part of the cities, countries, world you are in. You will also have to wait and go into that awful Apple Store and try and get someone to help. What is an 30 to 45 min job elsewhere, in the worst case you could wait 45 min just to get someone in Apple Store.

Here I am paying double the price for worst experience.

But that is not the worst part.

Apple Refuse to replace your Battery if your screen is broken, has slight crack on the edge, water damage or whatever damage they claim it has. You will first have to pay and fix those damages. Again I am perfectly fine with paying to fix it, except more than 99% of times Apple will quote you a price roughly 30 - 50% of your iPhone's that is now already 2 - 3 years old. And it makes much more sense to buy a new one instead. ( This remind me of the so call logic board damage I had with MacBook Pro 2 years ago. Sometimes I wonder why I am still using Apple )


Maybe it's just me, but $69 for a repair that 1) Apple will stand behind, and 2) will add another two years of life to a $1000 phone, is a pretty good deal. While there are undoubtedly good third-party repair shops, there is also a lot of crap that isn't worth half of what Apple is charging. Subpar work, subpar parts.


Going to Apple for repairs does not guarantee a quality service. See: The Apple Store Genius Bar Broke My $5,000 iMac Pro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_NRcy5mxU

"Subpar" is a very mild word to describe what was done there.


A lot of people would say that is the exception that proves the rule. And in any case, ultimately Apple will stand behind the repair, making it right. I've had two acquaintances get brand new MacBooks after the Genius Bar couldn't get their machine fixed correctly.


And this happen in US?


Torn on this.

1) I want to be able to open and repair my own things.

2) Every time I use a non-Apple battery, or buy a refurbished phone, I have issues ranging from battery life is shorter, to battery swelling.

I bought an 8s from Amazon’s refurbished line last week for a family member and the battery health started at 89% but is now at 81%. Sketch. Hard to trust any refurbished seller. Ultimately that leads to bad experiences with Apple products — my dad gets a replacement phone and all he knows is the battery life is poor.


Apple has a good thing here. They limit repair and parts to only those who they authorise, keeping parts off the second-hand market.

And why replace a cable when you can replace both boards, then maybe the cable too. They do seem very quick to recommend replacing major parts or to buy new. They could try the easy fixes (such as cables), I think people would rather risk a small fee before deciding if it is worth shelling out for more expensive components.


We had something like this with printers and ink cartridges and toner. I think manufactures eventually lost. One example https://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news...


Just a guess: maybe Apple is locking iPhone batteries because the anti-fix-it negativity is less expensive than battery explosion lawsuits?


Perhaps unrelated to the topic of batteries, but I wanted to share my experience at an Apple store from two days ago. I’m on a business trip to Sydney, at work I accidentally spilled water on my MacBook Pro and the thing went dark. I went to the Apple store, they popped it open and found too much water damage so they couldn’t repair it. Guess what, they replaced the whole laptop with a brand new one box and everything on the spot. They didn’t even charge me the AppleCare fee.

Apple’s customer service is second to none. If you buy their products, you should buy AppleCare too and not worry about shady repair shops.


A lot of comments in defense of Apple seem to have overlooked something very important.

> If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health.

This is not a warning that you are using a non-OEM part. This is an imperative for the user to get the part replaced.

Even if most non-Apple batteries are terrible, this is not a reasonable approach. IMO, it is bad for Apple to refer to anything they have not approved as defective and very misleading to the customer.


The chinese are already selling tools to read, clone, activate batteries. Laptop batteries had been like this for a long time, if you open it and replace the cells you need to reset the controller.


I think this makes total sense for batteries. Batteries are a hazard, and a lot of bad ones are out there. Prices for swap came down quite a bunch, so I think this is fine. Apple is taking ownership about exploding phones and other problems.

This is the reason why it gets more and more locked down.

I once bought a MacBook with weirdass problems. Turned out to be a bad data cable used by someone.

Chips are still swappable, because not many people do this / screw up, but also... a battery is quite a dangerous component


But it does this even with their own batteries. You can have a legit iPhone and a legit iPhone battery installed and it will have this issue occur.

This is not "taking ownership" in the way you intended, but it is demonstrating ownership.


If one doesn't want such "user hostile" hardware one shouldn't buy Apple products. They are legendary, especially lately in the last few years for such choices. Until a right to repair law is passed, there's nothing we can do and Apple will fight that tooth and nail. The best thing for people who care about such things to do is not to buy Apple products and fight for the law.


Apple is user-hostile when it comes to repairing hardware. Google is user-hostile when it comes to spying on users.

What’s a person to do?


Wanting to repair comes from the thing that iPhone is sold to the user. If US were to pass the right to repair law, will it be possible for apple to stop selling the device and start renting it and circumvent the law? Like, You can rent the iPhone for 3-4 years for $1200 and should return it.


People put these things in their pockets and fly with them. Forcing people to use batteries with a decent level of quality control is a good thing.

I don't feel like dying because someone spent $15 on a replacement battery purchased at the same place they by their Vape juice.


Is there any benefit whatsoever (even in a theoretical sense) that locking down the battery enhances user privacy in any way? To elaborate: Is there something similar to an attack where we chill a computer's RAM to recover a cryptographic key, for instance?


Cross referencing other thread, different source, same topic:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20644553


Not sure about you guys but batteries can and do explode. I don't want anyone but apple putting a battery in something that spends many hours of every day 10cm from my junk.


Does anyone has information about that issue that Apple had with their OS diminishing the power of the batteries? I think they're still on trial for that.


> Fortunately, your replacement battery will continue to work perfectly fine, and you’ll get all of the benefits that come with a new battery.

Literally enough said.


I wish Apple weren't so schizophrenic.

Odd-numbered days: PRIVACY DAY - we love our users!

Even-numbered days: HARDWARE DAY - we hate our users!

Pick one and stick with it, guys.


The word that I think has a bigger issue there is "user"- to me, it feels like Apple is treating their customers like drug addicts, and now that they're hooked, they're jacking up prices.


I recall a time when battery replacement was easy enough that it wasn't considered to be a repair.


Umm... is this a surprise to anyone? I'm only surprised it's new.


Apple prob had enough of ppl screwing themselves from burns and brunt phones. I have hand an iPad messed up in weird ways after a battery swap from some local cheap places. This is actually pro consumer in my view.


Worse for climate change than all their supposed good deeds. An iPhone could easily last 5 years instead of 2, and millions of poor people could have a few extra thousand in their pockets if they just allowed proper repair.


Are you suggesting the only recourse you have now is to get a new phone when your battery dies? Come on.


Or even more in their pockets if they just got better, cheaper Android phones.


Apple simply doesn't respect their customers.


I suspect the opposite: Apple's cost for occasional battery explosions injuring their customers is the real concern.


Ironically, Apple making third party repairs difficult by not selling genuine spare parts and not publishing service guides increases the risk of an iPhone exploding, because it pushes third parties towards sourcing parts from shady sources.

Why third parties exist at all? They must be doing something better: either they're cheaper, faster, more competent, in more convenient locations, or something else along these lines.

Apple has long repair times and that would be my argument for preferring a local repair shop over shipping the phone or computer god-knows-where.


Consider the source.


iFixit is misrepresenting Apple to market its tool sales business. This is what they do.


Care to set the record straight? What's actually going on if not what they're presenting?

They're making an assumption about intent. Unless you can prove you're part of the Apple team responsible for this hardware behavior, you're just going to be doing the same.


The batteries are not locked, and off-brand replacements work perfectly. There is no impediment whatsoever to repair here.

iFixit are therefore making a misstatement.

The only thing Apple is doing is not making assessments about the condition of off-brand replacements. This is pretty obvious and expected behavior.

iFixit are using a misrepresentation of this to generate publicity using the same narrative as they always do.


But they're doing this with their own branded replacements. If I put an actual apple battery into my iPhone but don't do it through apple's store, this behavior is what happens.

This is akin to my check engine light always being on whenever any mechanic makes repairs to my car. Yes, Kia is "protecting themselves from liability of damages by 3rd party behavior" but they're also creating a UX problem for me.

As the end user: this is stupid, and I don't like it, and it seems like a choice not a need on the company's part.


Batteries have a relatively short shelf life, so even an original apple branded battery can be a scam if it’s old stock.

I have personally run into this when I replaced a battery myself back in the iPhone 4 era.


Why does this strike me as just a 21st Century variation upon the "mining town Company Store" concept?


You don’t have to buy an Apple product.


You don't have to work in the mine.

Metaphor still works.


People did have to work at the mine. At first because they needed to eat, and later because they were in "debt" to the company store, thus the term "debt slavery". I'm not quite seeing how this is comparable to a consumer product decision.


Apple makes increasingly disappointing products. I recently was looking at replacing my iPhone 7 Plus, but around $900 would get the next baseline model, for no real tangible benefits, and some tangible downsides like no zoom lens and being forced to use the face scanning. Sorry, I'll replace my battery and cracked screen and wait a couple more years, thanks.


You can disable FaceID and go with typed passcodes.


A typed passcode is a downgrade in convenience from the touch id I currently enjoy. This is my point.


Or not use a passcode at all…


You aren’t forced to use face scanning.


And why would enabling a typed passcode be an improvement over the touch id I currently enjoy on the 7 plus?


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