Attempt to encourage users to upgrade to newer iPhone models? Apple raises cost of replacing an out-of-warranty iPhone battery
Users of older Apple iPhone handsets are being urged to replace their batteries now, after the tech giant indicated it will raise the service fee cost of replacing a battery in an older iPhone handset.
Apple announced the decision on its iPhone battery replacement website, by adding a paragraph revealing the price rise.
“The current out-of-warranty battery service fee will apply until the end of February 2023,” the webpage now states. “Effective March 1, 2023, the out-of-warranty battery service fee will be increased by $20 for all iPhone models prior to iPhone 14.”
Under the old prices, an iPhone 13 owner getting a new battery from Apple would pay $69. In March, the tech giant will charge $89.
Battery price increases will also apply to older iPhones, some iPads, MacBook laptops and in some international markets as well.
At the moment, battery replacements for all iPhone 14 models are still under warranty, and are therefore free of charge if a replacement is required.
Apple did not explain the reason for increasing the battery replacement cost, but the firm has for the past year been steadily raising the price of its iPhone 14 models outside of the US, as well as the purchase costs of its new iPads.
Apple supporters will argue the firm is simply adjusting its pricing to reflect inflation, as well as higher costs for labour and parts.
That said inflation in the United States has slowed recently.
However Apple critics will argue that the price rise is more about trying to persuade users to upgrade their older iPhone handset to a new model, instead of replacing the battery.
This is not an unfounded allegation, as changes in the battery replacement fee have previously affected iPhone sales.
There is also concern that it could drive users to non-Apple repair stores for lower prices, but replacing an iPhone battery is not a straight forward process due to Apple using “Battery Adhesive Strips.”
Battery gate scandal
And this price increase comes after Apple found itself in a great of hot water over a battery scandal a few years ago.
The whole “battery gate” issue began back in December 2017, when it was discovered that Apple had deliberately slowed down older iPhones, which it claimed at the time would help avoid unexpected handset shutdowns.
The issue was discovered when an iPhone user shared performance tests on Reddit that revealed that a iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged.
However the handset suddenly sped up again after the battery was replaced, pointing to a deliberate policy by Apple to slow older iPhones.
In the ensuing outrage, Apple apologised over the matter and lowered the price for replacement batteries to $29 from $79, but it denied accusations it was a clumsy attempt to force customers to upgrade to new handsets.
Apple’s official position on the matter remains that lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying and maintaining peak current demands, as they age.
Apple insisted its slowdown (or throttling) was designed to stop older iPhones unexpectedly shutting down, so as to protect its electronic components.
But just one week after Apple’s admission in December 2017 that it slowed down older iPhones, three class-action lawsuits were launched in the US against the iPhone maker.
Plaintiffs argued they didn’t consent to the company’s “interference”, and the lawsuits were eventually combined into a single case against the tech giant.
Apple was hit with a 5 million euro fine in France back in 2018 for releasing software updates that “significantly reduced” the performance of its iPhones.
Apple was also fined $12 million in 2018 in Italy, over the matter.
And the payouts kept coming.
In March 2020 Apple reached a litigation settlement of $500 million in the United States.
Then in October 2020 Apple also confirmed it was to pay $113m (£85m) to settle an official investigation by 33 US states into its deliberate policy of slowing down older iPhone models.
And the legal fallout continued in 2022, when Justin Gutmann, a consumer rights campaigner, launched a UK lawsuit in June 2022 seeking damages of more than £750 million against Apple for misleading iPhone users over the slowdown for older handsets.
It should be noted that Apple in December 2020 had faced fresh lawsuits in Belgium, Spain, Italy and Portugal from advocacy group Euroconsumers over this matter.
In 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed to the $29 battery replacements as one reason for lower-than-expected iPhone sales at the time in a letter to investors.