iFixit: Apple 'Locking' iPhone Batteries to Discourage Third-Party Replacements [Updated]

Apple has activated a "dormant software lock" on its latest iPhones to discourage battery replacements that aren't undertaken by Apple, according to iFixit.

The teardown group has discovered that an iPhone XS, ‌iPhone‌ XR, or ‌iPhone‌ XS Max that has had its battery swapped by anyone other than Apple or an Apple authorized service provider will now display a message saying their battery needs servicing.

iphone battery service thirs party repair message e1565262219785

If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health. The "Service" message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here's the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the "Service" message.

[...]

Put simply, Apple is locking batteries to their iPhones at the factory, so whenever you replace the battery yourself—even if you're using a genuine Apple battery from another iPhone—it will still give you the “Service” message. The only way around this is—you guessed it—paying Apple money to replace your iPhone battery for you.

The message appears in both iOS 12 and iOS 13 beta, and prevents the user from accessing the Battery Health features. Instead they see an "Important Battery Message" which reads: "Unable to verify this ‌iPhone‌ has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery."

iFixit notes that the message doesn't appear to affect the functionality of the battery, but makes it harder to know when a replacement battery installed by a third-party needs to be replaced.

YouTube channel The Art of Repair has discovered the source of the message to be a Texas Instruments microcontroller installed on the battery itself, which authenticates the battery as an Apple one and provides the ‌iPhone‌ with information about battery capacity and temperature.

Apple and other authorized service providers likely use Apple's own RepairCal diagnostics software to reset the "Service" status when it undertakes an ‌iPhone‌ battery replacement – an in-house procedure that's obviously not available to a third-party.

iFixit says the message appears designed to deter battery replacements using third-party repair kits, like the one sold by iFixit, and to discourage customers from getting a third-party repair shop to swap out their ‌iPhone‌ battery.

Apple would probably argue it is doing it out of safety concerns surrounding the replacement of swollen or damaged batteries. Nonetheless, it places further restrictions on the options available to ‌iPhone‌ users looking to get their battery replaced by anyone except Apple.


The practice harks back to a more damaging third-party ‌iPhone‌ repair controversy: Error 53, widely publicized in 2016, caused some ‌iPhone‌ 6 users who had the Home buttons on their iPhones fixed by a non-Apple technician using non-original parts to see their iPhones bricked following a software update.

When the error code first surfaced, Apple said that error 53 was a protective security feature meant to prevent "malicious" third-party components from potentially compromising a user's ‌iPhone‌.

However, after public outcry, Apple released a software update restoring functionality to bricked iPhones. Following the software update to unbrick iPhones, Apple claimed that the error 53 issue was meant to be a factory test and never should have impacted consumer devices.

Update: According to an Apple service document obtained by MacRumors, Battery Health info is unavailable for any ‌iPhone‌ XS, XS Max, and XR that has a non-genuine battery and is running iOS 12.1 or later.

Tag: iFixit

Top Rated Comments

chucker23n1 Avatar
46 months ago
This article has a weird vibe.

Apple has activated a "dormant software lock"
Where does this "lock the software"?

will now display a message saying their battery needs servicing.
It doesn't say that.

it does make it harder to know when a replacement battery needs to be replaced.
Well, yes. How is Apple supposed to say when a third-party-produced battery needs servicing?

The message appears designed to deter battery replacements
It doesn't really do that, though. It merely says that it can't really present diagnostic information about the battery. That's all.
Score: 90 Votes (Like | Disagree)
emmab2006 Avatar
46 months ago
Louis Rossman Already pointed this out. Apple is a Disgusting company when it comes to the right to repair. we dont own our products. as far as apple are concerned we lease them from them. and we have ZERO rights
Score: 77 Votes (Like | Disagree)
otternonsense Avatar
46 months ago
Absolute BS greedy move, clearly because battery replacements (esp. the discounted ones after iOS throttling hit the news) have hurt their shamelessly priced iPhone X-R-S gen sales and bottomline. And at the same time Tim will continue bragging about "sustainability" and regurgitate inspirational calendar nonsense while bleeding customers dry. smh
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jameswilby Avatar
46 months ago
Oh yeh... get yourself a big bowl of popcorn for this one
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Radon87000 Avatar
46 months ago
Its planned obsolescence to get people to buy Apple’s batteries to generate more revenue.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Expos of 1969 Avatar
46 months ago
This company is just going from bad to worse. The greed has no limit. Shameful. No morals remain. Getting in bed with the disgusting Goldman Sachs for the credit card was a clear indication that Apple under Cook will get into any sewer if it can make a buck.

Hopefully karma will give Apple and Cook their just desserts in the not too distant future.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iphone 15 pro wifi 6e

Internal Apple Document From Leaker 'Unknownz21' Confirms Wi-Fi 6E Will Be Limited to iPhone 15 Pro Models

Friday January 27, 2023 10:01 am PST by
Multiple rumors have suggested that the next-generation iPhone 15 models will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard that Apple has already introduced in the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, and now a leaked document appears to confirm Apple's plans. Sourced from researcher and Apple leaker Unknownz21 (@URedditor), the document features diagrams of the iPhone 15's antenna architecture. D8x refers to the...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 8 Features

Friday January 27, 2023 2:11 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least eight exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the eight features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
top stories 28jan2023

Top Stories: iOS 16.3 Released, iPhone 15 Pro Rumors, macOS Tips and Tricks, and More

Saturday January 28, 2023 6:00 am PST by
Following last week's hardware announcements, this week saw the actual release of several of the new products as well as operating system updates bringing new features and bug fixes across Apple's platforms. This week also saw some fresh rumors about the iPhone 15 lineup and Apple's upcoming AR/VR headset, while we shared some tips to help you get the most of your macOS experience, so read...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Max MacBook Pro

Thursday January 26, 2023 12:14 pm PST by
New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are available in Apple retail stores and are already in the hands of customers, and we picked up one of the new M2 Max machines to answer all of the questions MacRumors readers considering a purchase might have. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Yesterday, we asked MacRumors fans on...
iPhone 15 General Mock Feature

Kuo: iPhone 15 Models to Adopt Wi-Fi 6E

Thursday January 26, 2023 5:09 pm PST by
The upcoming iPhone 15 models that are set to be introduced later in 2023 will adopt the Wi-Fi 6E standard, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note about Apple's work on a Wi-Fi chip, Kuo said that the company will upgrade the iPhone 15 to Wi-Fi 6E. Apple is already using Wi-Fi 6E for the 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models introduced last year, along with the new Mac mini and...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Expected to Feature Wi-Fi 6E Like Latest Macs and iPad Pro

Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:39 pm PST by
The iPhone 15 will support Wi-Fi 6E, according to a research note shared this week by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley. The analysts did not specify whether the feature will be available on all models or limited to the Pro models. Apple has added Wi-Fi 6E support to a handful of devices so far, including the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook...