Apple implants warning message to restrict third-party battery repairs

Apple is looking to stop third-party repairs on iPhone batteries through a permanent warning message that appears in the device’s settings — and the company has now responded to the backlash surrounding the message.

Third-party battery replacements on the newest iPhones will result in the following message displayed in the Battery Settings menu: “Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery.”

But initially, we reported iPhones were being locked and rendered unusable. We were incorrect, and Apple provided some clarification to Digital Trends.

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

Essentially, Apple is not locking iPhone devices if you use a third-party repair service that’s not authorized with Apple. You’ll just see a persistent message, and the only way to get rid of it is for the replacement battery to be authenticated by an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. That’s because, after a repair, the battery goes through an authentication check with Apple servers, to ensure the repair was done safely through a certified technician.

It’s important to note that the warning message was first made a part of iPhone software when iOS 12.1 was released in October 2018 and it only affects the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. Apple even published a post on its support website outlining the changes. Apple isn’t preventing iPhones with non-authorized batteries from working — you won’t be able to get information about battery health, and you’ll have to deal with the persistent warning message.

The batteries in the newer iPhones have chips that provide information such as capacity, temperature, and time before a full discharge. This new data was added after criticism over Apple throttling iPhone performance to preserve battery life.

Apple has long been making third-party repairs difficult, such as with the controversial Error 53 from a few years ago. On the other hand, some users, such as iMore’s Rene Ritchie, believe that Apple is only seeking to prevent the kind of disaster that plagued Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7. Not only that, but there are now more than 1,800 authorized retailers in the U.S., including a large selection of Best Buy stores — so it should be relatively easy to get a battery replacement if you need one.

But repair site iFixit points out that with genuine components subject to the lockdown, Apple is limiting the freedom that iPhone owners have over their own devices. The Right to Repair legislation wants to make it easier for consumers and third-party stores to fix devices, but Ritchie adds that repair shops will need to be regulated as well to prevent the problems Apple is trying to avoid.

In any case, whether owners of the newest models agree or not to Apple’s move, it appears that the only option for replacing iPhone batteries is to visit an Apple Store or a nearby Apple Authorized Service Provider.

Updated on August 14, 2019: Added comment from Apple.

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