Apple claims scary iPhone battery warning is for customer safety

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iPhone batteries
Be careful on who you let replace your iPhone battery.
Photo: iFixIt

Apple confirmed it added a new “feature” to iPhones last year that displays an ominous warning when users get their battery replaced by an unauthorized service provider.

The iPhone-maker drew heavy criticism from right-to-repair advocates last week when the news of the new battery warnings surfaced. Facing claims that it is trying to funnel customers toward more expensive battery repairs, Apple has finally come out with a statement insisting that the change was made with the safety of customers in mind, but not everyone’s buying it.

“We take the safety of our customers very seriously and want to make sure any battery replacement is done properly. There are now over 1,800 Apple authorized service providers across the United States so our customers have even more convenient access to quality repairs,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement to The Verge.

Apple’s battery problems

The heart of the issue is that the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR will display a message that says “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine iPhone battery,” when you get your battery swapped by a repair shop that doesn’t have Apple’s stamp of approval. Normally, when you go to the Battery Health section in the settings app of your iPhone you’ll see the maximum capacity percentage of your battery and whether it can still support peak performance. Apple completely removed that info when it can’t detect if the battery was installed by Apple.

Removing the battery health data makes it harder for iPhone users to tell if their device is in optimal condition. On the other hand, it’s hard for Apple to tell if the battery information reported back to the iPhone is accurate if the battery doesn’t have the micro-controller that only authorized repair shops have access to.

Apple recently increased the number of places you can get an authorized battery replacement at by striking a deal with Best Buy. Still, for people in rural areas or overseas, the only option is an unauthorized repair shop. Apple is essentially punishing its customers for taking an alternative route which has left many iPhone-lovers unhappy.

Here’s the rest of Apple’s statement:

“Last year we introduced a new feature to notify customers if we were unable to verify that a new, genuine battery was installed by a certified technician following Apple repair processes. This information is there to help protect our customers from damaged, poor quality, or used batteries which can lead to safety or performance issues. This notification does not impact the customer’s ability to use the phone after an unauthorized repair.”