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Apple stores are slammed because of the $29 battery replacement


apple store
Grant
Robertson/flickr


  • Apple is currently offering iPhone battery replacements
    for $29.
  • Lots of people are taking advantage of the offer, and
    since stores don’t have the batteries in stock, they’re special
    ordering the battery replacements, which can take days or
    weeks.
  • Many people taking advantage of the battery offer don’t
    actually need new batteries, Apple store employees told
    Business Insider. 

Apple retail stores are struggling to handle a surge of customers
looking to reinvigorate their iPhones with a special battery
replacement procedure.

Apple sharply reduced the price for a fresh battery following the
revelation that it was purposely slowing performance of iPhones
with older batteries. In the weeks since then, a never-ending
parade of iPhone-bearing customers has swept through Apple shops,
throwing chaos into the company’s pristine, carefully
orchestrated shopping experience.

At some stores, wait times to see a technician, or what Apple
calls a “Genius,” can take hours. Many stores have set up
triage-like systems, with dedicated stations or tables devoted to
helping people who want a battery replacement. 

The unprecedented increase in visitors has left Apple stores
without replacement batteries in stock. Instead of replacing the
battery on the same day, stores must order batteries and contact
customers when they arrive, usually about a week later. 

Even worse, Apple store employees say, many of the replacement
batteries are going to users who don’t actually need a new
battery, and for whom a battery replacement will not speed up
their old iPhone. 

Some customers don’t believe they don’t need a new battery

“I would say less than 10% of the phones we have ordered
batteries for actually need a battery, based on diagnostics,” a
Genius at a Midwestern Apple store told Business
Insider. 

“I feel bad for the people that actually need batteries and
have to wait because people think that Apple is having a ‘sale’
on batteries,” the staffer continued. 

Apple technicians run a battery diagnostic test to see how
“aged” the battery is before replacing it — it measures how many
cycles the battery has been through and how much of its original
capacity is left. 

But as Apple technicians inform customers that their
battery seems to be fine, based on the test, many customers are
interpreting it as a subtle discouragement from replacing their
battery, and are requesting the swap anyway. 

Most replacement batteries arrive in a week or so, according to
Apple store employees and customers Business Insider spoke to.
But there is a known short supply of iPhone 6S Plus batteries,
says one Apple store employee.

iPhone 6S Plus batteries won’t be delivered until March or April,
according an
internal memo seen by MacRumors
. “Initial supplies of
some replacement batteries may be limited,” an Apple
representative told Business Insider in late December. 

The story so far 


Apple Store
Customers line up at an
Apple store.

AP

For years many Apple customers have wondered why their
iPhones mysteriously seemed to slow down right around the time
that Apple was launching a new iPhone model. Conspiracy theories
of “planned obsolescence” — a shady way of encouraging customers
to buy a new product — abounded.

So when a well-known developer of iPhone “benchmark” tests
released performance data in December that seemed to support that
theory, iPhone users were outraged.

Apple acknowledged that it was purposefully throttling the
performance of older iPhones in some cases. But it said the
reason wasn’t to compel customers to upgrade; it was simply a
result of the way Lithium-ion batteries work. 

Older batteries can’t always deliver enough juice for a phone’s
processor when it’s running at peak usage, a situation that can
cause a phone to shut down unexpectedly. No one wants their phone
to shut down, so Apple’s solution was to slow down the
processor’s top speed when batteries got too old.

In an letter apologizing for the decision, Apple said it would
offer $29 battery replacements for several iPhone models
(including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 7) instead of the
usual $79. Still, users are upset, and the revelation has raised
questions from lawmakers and prompted several lawsuits.

Wall Street is already worrying that the battery replacement
program could stop consumers from buying new phones. Barclays
analysts estimated that if 10% of iPhone users eligible for a
battery replacement opted for a new battery over a new iPhone,
Apple could sell 16 million fewer iPhones this year, potentially
costing the company
over $10 billion in lost sales

Check your battery first 


iPhone Battery
The iPhone battery part
that Apple is offering for $29.

iFixit

Users who want to take advantage of Apple’s offer should consider
replacing their battery later in the year, when the battery is
older and more spent. The $29 battery offer is good through the
end of the year.

While you can’t run an official Apple battery diagnostic at home,
Apple says that it will offer new insight into your iPhone
battery’s health in a future software update, which will tell you
if you need a new battery. 

It’s also possible to contact Apple Support teams through
Apple’s website or apps to find out whether you need a battery
replacement. However, Apple support usually doesn’t share
specific details about your iPhone’s battery health — it will
only tell you if it’s “fine” or not.

You can also
download an iPhone processor speed test
to see if your device
has been slowed down due to an older battery.

One thing to keep in mind is that Apple’s $29 battery replacement
is
a once-per-iPhone deal
. If you replace your battery now for
$29, you’ll have to pay $79 if you ever need a second battery
swap on the same phone. 

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