Apple will replace your defective iPhone 5 battery for free

A "small percentage" of iPhone 5 devices sold between September 2012 and January 2013 have faulty batteries that drain quickly, the electronics giant says.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read

Some batteries in the iPhone 5 are defective. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

If you find your iPhone 5 runs out of juice too quickly, Apple has a fix.

The Cupertino, Calif., electronics giant said it has "determined that a very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently." Apple will replace the batteries in those devices, sold between September 2012 and January 2013, for free.

You can check to see if your phone is eligible by plugging your serial number into an Apple site.

We've contacted Apple and will update the report when we have more information.

The iPhone 5 battery replacement follows similar programs for other Apple devices. The company last year reached out to customers after discovering a manufacturing issue in a few thousand iPhone 5S devices that caused the batteries to take longer to charge or drain quicker. In 2005 and 2006, it recalled nearly 2 million laptop batteries for its PowerBooks and iBooks because of overheating. Apple also has recalled laptop flash drives and MacBook MagSafe power adapters that were prone to splitting.

The iPhone 5 also has seen previous issues. The company in May started a replacement program for the sleep/wake button for the device. In that case, the button on iPhone 5 models manufactured through March 2013 sometimes stopped working or worked only intermittently. Apple fixed the issue for free for eligible customers.

Unlike other models of its smartphone, Apple sold the iPhone 5 for only one year. It replaced the device with the premium iPhone 5S and the colorful, plastic-encased iPhone 5C in late 2013. The company plans to release its newest smartphone, dubbed the iPhone 6, next month. Apple likely will introduce bigger screens in its device -- possibly 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches versus 4 inches in the current models -- and that could help the company post its biggest launch ever. The iPhone accounts for more than half of Apple's sales and is key to its growth.

The iPhone 5 battery replacement process in the US and China began August 22. It will be available in other countries as of Friday. The battery can be replaced at an Apple authorized service provider, Apple retail store, or through Apple technical support. To prepare the phone for the battery replacement process, Apple recommends backing up data to iTunes or iCloud, turning off the "Find my iPhone" feature, and erasing all data and settings.

If the iPhone 5 has any damage, such as a cracked screen, that impairs the replacement of the battery, that issue needs to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. The company said "in some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair." It also said the battery replacement program doesn't extend the standard warranty coverage of the iPhone.

The program covers defective iPhone 5 batteries for two years after purchase of the device or until March 1, whichever provides longer coverage. Users who already paid to replace their iPhone 5 batteries can contact the company about a refund.