Apple no longer refuses to fix iPhones with third-party batteries

The iPhone XR
Enlarge/ The iPhone XR led iPhone sales, but iPhone revenue was down 15 percent year over year.
Samuel Axon

Apple has reportedly updated the rules of its strict repair program to be a bit more lenient toward iPhones with aftermarket batteries. Internal company documents reportedly instruct its Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers to repair iPhones with third-party batteries, something that the iPhone maker has never allowed before.

The change was first spotted by iGeneration, and MacRumors reportedly obtained the documents from reliable sources. Ars has reached out to Apple for an official statement.

Previously, official service providers were told to deny service to any iPhones that used third-party batteries. It did not matter if the requested service involved the battery or another component of the handset. Under the new policy, if the service requested does not involve the phone’s battery, Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers can now ignore the battery and service the device as necessary.

If the requested service is related to the third-party battery, providers can replace it with an official Apple battery for a fee. If the battery’s pull-tabs are broken or if too much adhesive is present, providers have the option to replace the entire iPhone “for only the cost of a battery replacement at their discretion.”

The final policy is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it makes it much more affordable to replace an entire iPhone if something is wrong with its third-party battery (it currently costs between $49 and $69 to replace batteries in out-of-warranty iPhones that don’t have AppleCare+). Second, users shouldn’t expect that policy to be the same everywhere since your local Apple store and nearest Authorized Service Provider can set different replacement costs at their discretion.

These repair policy changes reportedly went into effect on February 28, and it’s not the first time Apple has changed its servicing rules. In 2017, the company amended its policies to repair iPhones with third-party replacement displays.

This change comes just a few months after Apple’s special battery replacement program ended at the close of 2018. After the company admitted to slowing down old iPhone models as their batteries age, it instituted a year-long program that lowered the cost of out-of-warranty battery replacements for iPhone 6 models and later from $79 to $29.

It also comes as iPhone sales slow overall for multiple reasons, one of which being that users are embracing the idea that a new battery can extend the lifetime of their smartphones. Those who chose to replace their iPhone batteries themselves or went to an unauthorized provider had significantly fewer options if those iPhones ever needed repair in the future. Now, it seems Apple is more willing to work with all iPhone owners, regardless of the type of battery inside their handsets.