Getting Apple to replace your iPhone's failing battery is a bigger hassle than it should be

If you live close to an Apple store, then things are easier. Oh, and don't think that having AppleCare+ coverage gets you much in this scenario.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
​Replacing the battery in an iPhone 6s

Replacing the battery in an iPhone 6s


OK, so a two-year-old iPhone 6s handset I have here has developed the dreaded iPhone throttling problem because the battery has been whipped. Here are the hoops I've had to go through to have the battery replaced.

Must read: How to tell if your iPhone battery needs replacing

Before contacting Apple support I confirmed that the handset was suffering from the throttling issue and that the battery was degraded to the point where Apple considers it past its best. If you're curious how I diagnosed the problem, I've detailed the process here.

OK, call number one to Apple tech support.

I give my details and outline the problem carefully -- I mention that battery life is severely degraded and that performance is a lot worse than it was a few weeks earlier. The Apple technician carried out remote diagnostics on the handset and surprisingly claimed that the issue was a software problem, and that what I needed to do was back up the device, wipe it, and start from scratch.

Out of curiosity, I asked about the state of the battery, and I was told that it was fine.


I play along at this point, and the Apple tech sent me a handy email outlining how to back up the data, wipe the device, and reload my stuff back onto it.

I part ways with the technician, parting with a casual "I'll be back."

I was skeptical that the issue was software based. Nothing in the battery statistics suggested that the problem was software, and the device was already recently wiped. But for the purposes of this report, I played along.

And, as I expected, wiping the device and reloading did nothing. If anything, it made it worse, partly down to the search tool Spotlight needing to reindex the data on the device.

I let the iPhone chill for a few days before calling Apple support again.

Call number two to Apple tech support.

Because I'd already opened a case on this problem, the second call went a lot quicker, and this time around I'm given two options:

  • Take the handset to an Apple Store to get the battery replaced
  • To a mail-in repair, which has about a two-week turnaround

Because the device is under AppleCare+ warranty, the battery replacement would be carried out free of charge.

If I wasn't two-and-a-half hours away from an Apple Store (not to mention the fact that pilgrimages to Apple Stores, in my experience, can be expensive) then I'd be happy. But my nearest Apple Store is a long way away, and that two-week mail-in repair seems cumbersome. So, since the handset is covered by AppleCare+, I enquired about making use of the Express Replacement Service that Apple offers. I didn't mind paying a fee to have the handset swapped if it meant skipping that 14-day turnaround thing.

But the Express Replacement Service only covers accidental damage, and not, well, the battery not lasting two years. It's annoying that I could have damaged the handset and got a new one for a small fee, while a battery failing in two years in a handset that's otherwise pristine can't be replaced.

So, what's the takeaway here:

  • Initially Apple tried to brush off the problem as a software issue. I don't know if Apple's diagnostics aren't good enough to spot battery issues of not, but telling people to needlessly wipe a device makes dealing with this problem a much bigger hassle than it needs to be.
  • I'm surprised that Apple technicians can't spot iPhones that are being throttled because of the iOS update.
  • In this situation, all AppleCare+ buys you is a free battery replacement as opposed to a $29 replacement.
  • If you're far from an Apple Store, the process becomes much more painful if you reply on your iPhone and you don't have a spare device.

And before someone asks, I can't be bothered to replace the battery myself because right now I have too many things requiring my attention piling up. If you want to repair yours then it's not that hard and the excellent guides over on iFixit will cover everything you need to know about the process.

How to make your iPhone battery last for years

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