Apple apologizes with $29 iPhone battery replacements

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iPhone battery
Brazil demands easy iPhone battery replacements.
Photo: iFixit

Apple has offered iPhone customers yet another apology for intentionally slowing down the CPU on some older iPhone models in order to increase overall performance.

In a letter to customers this afternoon, Apple explained that it added a feature in iOS 10.1.2 that successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns on iPhones. Apple was able to do so by lowering CPU performance so that it drew less power from older batteries, but the company is now offering an olive branch to customers: cheap battery replacements.

The internet ignited with controversy earlier this month after a Reddit user discovered swapping out the battery on his slow old iPhone drastically improved the device’s performance. The post sparked debate over whether Apple intentionally slows the devices as a way to push owners to upgrade.

Apple confirmed last week that it lowers CPU performance. But the company says it does so because as batteries age they can’t meet peak CPU draw demands sometimes, especially when the battery is low. When this happens it causes the device to restart, so Apple added an algorithm that curves CPU demands as batteries age.

Devices affected by the throttling include the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. Apple notified customers today that it will reduce the price on out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements by $50, putting the cost at just $29.

The offer covers anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced. Customers can take advantage of the new price starting in late January. It will be available worldwide until December 2018.

“First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the company says on its website. “Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”

Apple also says it will come out with an iOS update in early 2018 that will give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery. Third-party apps like coconutBattery can also be used to check an iPhone’s battery status.

This is a pretty great response to the situation by Apple. $29 for a battery replacement is a great deal and will make some iPhone 6 owners keep their devices even longer. Adding some new battery status features to iOS 11 will also be nice because as good as coconutBattery is, it’d be great to see more battery info directly on your iPhone.

  • Steve Harvey

    Apple was simply looking out for its users and trying to give them the best experience possible. While doing this they ignited a small group of whiners who now are causing a ruckus.

    Apple did a good thing here and tried to prevent random shutdowns, and improve overall battery health, and battery life through minimal changes.

    Apple should charge more for batteries now just to screw with these blunder heads.

    • Cat Hater 24×7

      Wow, you are a pure cultist,

      Level upgrade Approved.

      • Steve Harold

        He’s not a pure cultist and I agree with everything he has said and it’s about dang time someone said it! Enough do this bull around Apple and everyone throwing a hissy fit. Apple did a good thing here and should be getting thank yous not hate!

      • jdsonice

        I do agree that Apple did the right thing. Unfortunately they should have told the public the consequences and possible fixes upfront. I am as pure as one can get when it comes to Apple. And I still think Apple would have been better off being upfront about this.

      • Peter Sichel

        I totally agree it would have been better for Apple to be up front about this. I think they mis-judged the potential of harmful narratives. Apple’s engineers added a feature that let you keep using your phone even though the battery was too weak to power the CPU at full speed. It hardly seemed controversial at the time.

        In hindsight, Apple mis-judged how many technology pundits and journalists make a living off of spinning and bashing all things related to Apple. When the pundits saw an opportunity to create a huge media firestorm from Apple’s admission that they deliberately slow down the CPU in some cases, they couldn’t resist.

        Apple’s response is interesting. First they acknowledged the behavior and explained what they were doing and why. When that didn’t quell the firestorm, they were quick to offer an olive branch to customers who may have felt mis-treated. This was a clear attempt to get ahead of the issue and win back public support.

        With Apple’s unofficial apology and many satisfied customers coming to Apple’s defense, the expectation is that the media will move on to the next crisis. Time will tell.

      • jdsonice

        Good analysis. I personally think Apple will be fine. There will be some media screaming and some techie guys will twist and turn and the stock price will give some but at the end everything will be fine.

      • linux_user

        Your ssd is dying doing so many writes so fast, what if Microsoft slow down

        writes to your ssd so it lives much longer and warns out much slower, would it be nice from them?

        If i bought a phone it’s mine now. I decide what to do with it not you. If you release updates they should fix issues or add features, not slow down it so it can run longer on warned out battery which should have been changed.

    • If they were really ‘looking out for their users’ and just ‘doing a good thing’ they would have alerted users as to what was going on and why, and pointed them at their battery repair program. If they had done that – regardless of motives – they could have avoided this whole mess and it would have been seen as a great thing… a feature even!

      My hunch is that it was nixed by the marketing department (which is more and more driving Apple these days), as it might have been seen as highlighting a negative (that batteries go bad over time and use), or that – as conspiracy theorists have been saying – that they’d rather people just move on to a new one instead of replacing the battery. If the phone keeps feeling slower, it helps weigh in that direction.

      So, what could have been lauded as a excellent use of technology for power management, and optimizing the performance of the product… ends up being a black-eye to Apple. Hopefully they’ve learned something from this.

      • Steve Harvey

        Yes this probably was a good move by Apple’s marketing team. The average user isn’t smart enough to understand or know these behind the scene processes, and why it benefits them.

        It’s the reason we elect public officials to represent us. Some issues like Net Neutrality, universal health care, minimum income, free college. Yeah if people voted directly our government would be forced to $100 trillion in debt and would be obliterated.

        Smart shareholders and the Board of Apple ensure that smart people like Tim Cook, Jony Ive, and Phill Schiller are running Apple because the average user would make dumb choices. And explaining what happens on your iPhone to average users is bad.

        How many people realize your phone tracks where you go and how long you’ve been there? If end users actually realized this they would go bonkers, but it is so Apple can provide them with useful information proactively.

      • Clearly, this was quite smart of them… LOL. (as they enjoy lost profits from the reduced battery replacement pricing and a PR disaster… give Tim another raise!)

        But, you’re so right. It’s is really great that Apple is looking out for all their cognitively-challenged users. Here’s to the idiots… (oh wait, was that how the slogan went?)

        Having a dialog box that said something like, ‘Your battery has degraded in performance to the point where it could compromise safe and reliable phone operation. In some situations, the power management will now slow the phone to prevent reboot. See this page for more details or to learn about battery replacement options.’

        I’m glad we’ve got smart people like you looking out for us, though. ;)

    • OMFG!!! are you seriously defending what Apple have done? if Apple had said to users “hey we have noticed that as your battery life starts to get weak from usage you may experience problems with system shut downs, but we are giving you an option to throttle your phones performance to extend battery life in system preferences” then yes it would have been something they could be praised for… however what they have now admitted is that they have a problem with phones randomly shutting down because the batteries they put in are not able to supply a sustained amount of power to run the phone and they just switch off… this is not the same as other phones where they work as planned but the batteries just don’t last as many hours, this is a hardware limitation.

      It could almost be likened to the VW emissions scam, Apple have been happily telling everyone how much faster their Ax range of chips are in testing, but in real world operations the phones are not able to give the same levels of performance.

      The fact is that we have paid money for a phone based on its performance as stated by Apple when we purchased it and then without telling us or asking permission they have turned down the processors speed, imagine if you took your car in for a service and the manufacturer decided to remap the engine taking off 50bhp because they realised that they had not built the engine to with stand the horsepower that it came out of the factory.

      Would you be saying well done Ford/chrystler etc thanks for not building the engine to withstand everyday usage, thank you for dropping my brake horsepower and not telling me? after all they only did it to prevent your car from breaking down and to improve its overall health!!!

      And then sending you a bill after the fact for more than the service would have cost because your a blunder head and you deserve to be screwed with!!!

      You seriously need to do what a great many of us are doing and dump on Apple so they realise that unlike people like you who seem unable to see anything Apple do is wrong… you need to take the wool from your eyes and look at the world through non Apple shaded spectacles!!!

      My iphone 7 Plus 128gb is now on Ebay and I have put my money where my mouth is, I can happily say that the Galaxy S8 I got for Christmas is in every way a better phone than my iphone 7 plus was, not to mention the lack of an ugly as buggery monobrow on the iphone X

  • Cat Hater 24×7

    $50 reduction???

    The battery was $79 now its $29. How is a Rechargeable battery sold for more than $15?

    • Peter Sichel

      It’s not just the cost of the battery, I expect Apple will test your iPhone to see if it needs a new battery and replace it (while you wait?) if it is warranted.

      Some people will never be satisfied no matter what Apple does. They resent Apple for being so successful and disrupting industry after industry in the process.

      • Cat Hater 24×7

        Someday the bubble will burst, but for you my friend it will have been too late.

      • Peter Sichel

        Will it? I’ve enjoyed Apple products for over 30 years. I have no regrets.
        If you prefer something else, by all means enjoy!

    • Mescolito

      Because it’s an iBattery?

  • Costa K

    I’m still waiting for Sony to replace the battery on my old Xperia.
    I’m still waiting for Nokia to replace the battery on my old E63.
    I’m still waiting for Motorola to replace the battery on my black behemoth flip phone.
    Or at least a notification.

    Waiting…still waiting…

    I suspect it ain’t going to happen.

    But damn you Apple for doing what everybody else has ever done.

  • captnron23

    And where does one go to get the battery and replacement labor

  • Ryan Sligar

    I disagree with the Apple slowing down the speed of the phone to conserve battery without giving the user a choice. We have been dealing with battery life issues with cell phones for a long time so this is nothing new. The issue here is that Apple slowed the phones down so we’re now dealing with batter life issues as well as overall system slowness. They basically added to the existing issue rather than fixing another issue. I’d personally rather have a snappy phone and use a battery pack than have a slow phone that lasted a little longer. I am certain this corresponded with the release of the new phones from a marketing point of view. As one of the other users commented on below, if they were really concerned, they should have offered the $29 battery to existing users instead of slowing down the phones. (That would have slowed sales of the new phones though…)

    • Peter Sichel

      Do you even understand what the issue is? They slowed some phones down so they wouldn’t shut-off because the battery was no longer capable of powering the processor at full speed.

      • Ryan Sligar

        Why not offer the customer the option to fix the battery rather than force the phone to run slower. I would like to replace the battery instead of have a slow phone. I’d even pay for it but when I got my battery in my 6 plus tested by apple, they said it was fine. So that means they turned down the CPU speed in my phone for no reason just because I happened to have a 6 plus….

      • Peter Sichel

        I think you jumped to an incorrect assumption. This feature only slows down phones where the battery is actually weakened. If your battery is fine, this feature will not turn down your CPU at all.

        Why not offer the customer the option to replace the battery?
        You already have that option. If you notice your battery is no longer holding a charge as well as it once did and you download a free battery test app, it will tell you when your battery should be replaced. Suppose you don’t want to replace your battery for some reason like you’re planning to replace the phone in 3 months. Apple’s clever engineers let you keep using your phone even though the battery is too weak to run the CPU at full speed. This is a feature.

      • If they supply a phone that is not capable of running at full speed for the life of the battery then they are doing something wrong, the cell in the phone should be designed with overhead to allow the processor to run at full speed.
        No other phone that I have owned has had random shutdowns before the battery has gone flat (apart from an older sony running a qualcomm 810 cpu but that was highlighted as an issue with the cpu not brushed under the carpet with an update that users were not made privy too), batteries should last for shorter periods between charges not shut down as they are unable to supply enough power to run the cpu.

      • Peter Sichel

        How do you define “the life of the battery”?
        The battery had reached its normal end-of-life and was no longer able to supply enough power to run the CPU at its maximum speed. Apple added a feature to extend the useable life of the battery by reducing the CPU speed so it would no longer require more power than the “expired” battery could supply.

        In your experience no other phone has exhibited this problem. Have you considered that they might be doing the same thing (Lithium Ion batteries do wear out after all)? When is Samsung or Google going to admit that they deliberately slow down some older phones, apologize, and offer low cost battery replacements?

        Two reasons this isn’t as visible for other phones are: (1) They don’t last as long. Most people update their Android phone after 2-3 years because they cost less and don’t get software updates; (2) Not as many people are paying attention because other phone makers are not sitting atop a $300 billion pile of cash. If some Android phones do this, it isn’t newsworthy. If Apple does it, it’s a huge story.

      • Samsung have publicly gone o record to advise that they do not slow down handsets . Regarding your statement about android owners swapping their phones more often due to price of handsets being cheaper, this is half correct but as apple fans always point out there is so much fragmentation in the android os this shows that android users are able to continue using their handsets much longer than apple phone users. An android user of an older phone can change their battery by removing the rear cover and swapping out a £5 battery should they need to. I have had many apple iOS devices that have been working fine up until I have been forced to update to a newer version of the os and found that they then laf at even the most basic of tasks. Apple users (I was one) jumped up to upgrade my device whenever the latest version came out (such was Steve jobs sway) yes I was running the latest OS but it was a cut down feature missing version that ran slower than the older one and left me with no option but to replace a device that had been fine.
        So yes android is a better option should you wish to be able to continue using your device for longer and to experience technology years before apple decide to let their users have it.

      • Peter Sichel

        The quote I read was Samsung does not slow down handsets with software updates. I didn’t see where they said anything about power management for weak batteries. Apple makes the same claim about their software updates.

        >An android user of an older phone can change their battery by removing the rear cover and swapping out a £5 battery

        Most TopTier Android phones no longer have user replaceable batteries.

        I understand you had a bad experience with an iOS upgrade supplied by Apple. In this particular instance Apple’s software failed. It may have worked for millions of others, but that’s not much consolation. Since your phone was fine before the upgrade, we can pretty much rule out that the slow down was due to the batteries age. Where I disagree is with many who have posted here is the claim that this was deliberate and intended to force you to upgrade your phone. If an iOS upgrade leaves your iPhone in an unusable state, there are other things that could cause this. You can take it to an Apple Store and have them fix it, or Google for instructions on how to downgrade to the previous iOS.

        You may be disappointed with Apple products and prefer something else. That’s your choice. Did Apple intentionally try to harm their customers? I don’t see evidence to support that.

  • jdsonice

    Apple did the right thing the wring way. Companies need to realize that nothing is going to stay a secret for long. Apple should have told the users about the “fix” up front. Still I am quite content with the solution they have offered.

  • jdsonice

    I bet you schedule an appointment and go to the store. They now have a lot more than Apple stores replacing the batteries. I expect this to be an easy process.