A teardown specialist said Apple is making it hard to replace your own iPhone batteries. But the tech giant on Wednesday defended how it authenticates the batteries used in its iPhones, saying it's the only way to ensure they meet its standards.
Starting with iOS 12.1 from October 2018, Apple included the ability to monitor the health of your iPhone XS, XS Max and battery. By going into settings, you can see the maximum capacity your battery is able to charge and whether it supports normal peak performance. You can also see if you should replace your battery.
But if you swap your battery yourself or go to a nonauthorized vendor, you'll see a Service message that warns Apple is unable to verify if your iPhone has a genuine Apple battery, as noted last week by teardown specialist iFixit. You can still replace your battery, but you won't be able to monitor the health of the battery unless you're using one from Apple or an authorized reseller.
That realization caused outcry and allegations that Apple is "locking iPhone batteries to discourage repair," as iFixit put it. "Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them," the site said.
But Apple on Wednesday defended the move, saying it displays the message to keep customers safe and make sure battery replacements are done properly.
"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," the company said in a statement. "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."
People are holding onto their smartphones longer than before, and for many, the battery is one of the biggest reasons to eventually upgrade. Being able to monitor the battery's health, and cheaply replace it, lets people wait longer to buy newer models.
Apple's iPhone battery practices have drawn scrutiny in the past. In late 2017, the company admitted that software it released the previous year As batteries get older, they don't hold their charges as well as newer batteries, and they can have worse problems when the charge is low or the temperature is cold. Apple ended up releasing new features to help iPhone owners monitor their batteries, and it .with their aging lithium ion batteries.
The warning message, which is found in the iPhone's settings, usually indicates that your battery is degraded and must be replaced, iFixit said. The publication's tests revealed that even a brand-new, genuine Apple battery caused the message to appear. It appears on iPhones running iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta.
The update won't throttle the battery's performance or prevent you from using your phone, but you won't be able to see details of your battery's health. The site compared this to a car displaying a Check Oil light that only a Ford dealership can get rid of.
The only way to get rid of the message is to have an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider authenticate it -- essentially forcing you to take the battery through official channels.
Apple has over 1,800 authorized service providers across the US, including all Best Buy stores, and 5,000 around the globe.
In a support page about batteries, the company noted that if the message appears, you should contact an authorized service provider to have the iPhone checked.
"We take the safety of our customers very seriously and want to make sure any battery replacement is done properly," Apple said in its statement Wednesday.
Originally published on Aug. 8 at 3:08 a.m. PT
Update, Aug. 14: Adds Apple comment and information.