Apple wants iPhone users to shun third-party battery replacements

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iPhone XR battery life is the best of any iPhone on the market.
You'll need to get your iPhone battery replacement carried out by one of Apple's chosen repairers.
Photo: Kristal Chan/Cult of Mac

Apple has long been trying to push users to shun third-party repairers and go through Apple for device repairs. Now it’s activated a previously dormant software lock on iPhone to try and crack down on battery replacements by third-party repairers.

That’s even the case if they’re replacing your battery with an official Apple battery.

Battery replacements carried out by someone other than an Apple Genius or Apple Authorized Service Provider will no not clear the ominous “Service” warning message in the iPhone’s Settings > Battery > Battery Health menu.

As iFixit points out:

“The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced … Unless an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider authenticates a battery to the phone, that [means an iPhone] will never show its battery health and always report a vague, ominous problem.”

Even swapping in a brand new genuine Apple battery from another handset triggers a warning. This “Important Battery Message” tells users that the device is “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery.”

The only way to return this to normal is to get your battery replaced by one of Apple’s chosen repairers. They have access to diagnostic software able to reset the indicator.

A video from The Art of Repair shows the phenomonon:

This issue only affects iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max handsets at present. However, this could change in the future. Presumably it will also be carried forward to future iPhone devices.

A problem with safety

Apple would likely (and with good reason) point out that this is related to safety. Problems with the lithium-ion batteries found in iPhones and other devices have, in the past, caused devices to burst into flames. This risk causing injury to users, as well as reflecting badly on Apple in the press.

Apple could make this diagnostic software available to all repairers. But it would have no way of guaranteeing the quality of repairers. It therefore couldn’t guarantee that battery replacements were being done with correct new batteries.

However, the move won’t endear Apple to “Right to Repair” proponents. Apple has previously taken actions to restrict the ability of users to repair devices on their own. It has spent money lobbying against Right to Repair legislation. Apple delegates opposed a proposed Right to Repair bill in Nebraska. Apple said that giving everyone access to Apple components and service manuals would make Nebraska a “Mecca for bad actors.”

Newer Macs can also be repaired only by officially sanctioned repairers. Certain repairs for Macs with Apple’s T2 chip require access to Apple’s diagnostic software. Not using this can result in your Mac being bricked.