Get your inexpensive iPhone battery replacement while you can

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An iPhone battery replacement can add years to its useful life.
Remember the iPhone lithium-ion battery throttling controversy?
Photo: iFixIt

If you weren’t tempted by an iPhone XR or XS, and you’ve decided to hold onto your older handset for another year, you should really consider getting the battery replaced. This will add years of usefulness. 

Even better, Apple is offering a special deal that makes it just $29. But this low price is available only for one more months.

An Apple apology 

Late last year,  Apple admitted that it was surreptitiously slowing down older iPhone models, claiming it was doing so because otherwise the devices could crash when their processor required more power than their aging batteries could deliver.

While this is true, it set off a firestorm of accusations that the real goal was to force users to upgrade to newer iPhones. Numerous class action lawsuits have been filed since this revelation, and just this week Italy fined Apple 10 million euros ($11.4 million) for the practice. Expect other fines and court settlements to follow.

In an attempt to calm the furor, CEO Tim Cook reduced the price of a battery replacement for older phones.  That cut the cost of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later. That covers the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

As mentioned, this special deal is only good until December 31. Still, after that the price only goes up to $49 for every model but the iPhone X, for which a battery replacement will be $69.

iPhone battery replacement: a good thing

The batteries used in all brands of phones have a limited number of charge/discharge cycles, and with regular use the amount of power each will hold gradually decreases. This reduces time before you have to recharge.

Even worse, the amount of current a battery can provide will also decrease. Sometimes when an iPhone’s processor demands extra current, its battery just can’t supply it. That causes the device to immediately shut down. This is why Apple was throttling older devices, to prevent these unexpected shut downs. 

An iPhone battery replacement starts this process all over again, potentially adding years to the useful life. 

Check your iPhone Battery Health

Apple will only replace your handsets battery if it needs a new one. Fortunately, there’s a Battery Health tool in Settings. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Battery > and then Battery Health. Near the top of the resulting screen is a percentage. Apple says, “This is a measure of battery capacity relative to when it was new.” Anything below 80 percent is likely to cause problems. 

Further down on that screen is a subheading called Peak Performance Capability. If below this there is a note that reads “Your battery is currently supporting normal peak performance.” That means everything is fine.

However, that note on many older iPhones will instead read “This iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery was unable to deliver the necessary peak power. Performance management has been applied to help prevent this from happening again.” This means your battery definitely needs replacing.

How to get an iPhone battery replacement

A fresh battery in your beloved but aging handset starts with a trip to Apple’s support website.

If you live somewhere you can bring the iPhone to an Apple Store, the swap can be done while you wait. Of course, the exact amount of time will depend on many conditions, but it can be anywhere from less than an hour to over 3 hours. Visiting the website and setting up an appointment is the best way to reduce that wait time. 

The other option is to mail the device to Apple to have the work down. Fair warning: that can take up to 5 business days.