Following widespread criticism for reducing SoC frequency because of battery degradation, Apple announced plans to cut down the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement for the iPhone 6 and newer models to $29 (from $79) throughout 2018. The battery swap program was expected to kick off early in 2018, but Apple has decided to initiate it immediately in the US, starting December 30. Later on, the company plans to update its iOS in early 2018 to give its customers a visibility of battery wear out and help them to decide whether they need a swap or not.

We expected to need more time to be ready,” Apple said in a statement published by TechCrunch. “But we are happy to offer our customers the lower pricing right away. Initial supplies of some replacement batteries may be limited.

Earlier this month Apple confirmed that it reduces the iPhone SoC frequency, among other things, as its battery capacity depreciates over time in order to avoid unexpected shutdowns from high current draw. The company claims that at times its processors demand a higher peak current than a degraded battery can provide. In particular, as batteries age (or are operated in a low temperature environment), the impedance grows and the ability to supply enough current at a stable voltage drops. Apple’s power management monitors a combination of the iPhone temperature, battery charge, and the battery’s impedance (the company does not say how it can monitor the impedance of a battery). Since all components require certain voltages and currents to operate, in a bid to avoid unexpected shutdowns, iOS reduces the SoC frequency and therefore reduces the performance of the smartphone until the power management IC finds it reasonable.

We have already published two stories covering the Apple battery fiasco, where we covered some additional details on the matter:

While an iPhone is guaranteed to make an emergency call, its aged battery may not provide required performance for all the third-party applications needed. In a bid to remedy the battery situation, Apple offers owners of the iPhone 6, 6S, SE and 7 in the US to install a new battery for $29, starting today. To do so, owners of the said iPhones will have to either send their smartphones to Apple, bring them to the company’s stores, or bring them to an Apple authorized service provider. The final details yet have to be published. Apple says that it usually takes 7-9 days to replace a battery, but if a large number of clients decide to replace their existing units straight away, the service will take longer and shortages of certain battery units may occur. It remains to be seen how Apple deals with its customers in Asia and Europe.

Sometimes early next year Apple intends to update its iOS to give their customers a clear understanding of the health of their iPhone’s batteries. This probably indicates that Apple will continue to lower performance of its SoCs going forward to prevent shutdowns, prolong battery life and guarantee phone operation in case of emergencies for all of its customers. 

Source: TechCrunch

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  • Albertc - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    The battery cost is less than $10. They're not giving the farm away.
  • peevee - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    But then there is labor and associated costs (buildings, lighting, tools etc).
    Of course if they would make the batteries replaceable in the first place, there would not be such a problem, but them a lot of people would not change their phones every year or two.
  • FunBunny2 - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    "But then there is labor and associated costs (buildings, lighting, tools etc)."

    not really. the only marginal/variable cost to the replacement is the battery and labor. all the rest are fixed cost, not related to the replacement exercise. the total margin is cannibalized.
  • Samus - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    Yes battery cost is low, but installation is 20 minutes done properly on 6, and even more difficult on 7’s because of IP68 certification sealing. There are other costs associated with the battery replacement, such as pull strips, lcd gasket and seal, and the possibility of damaging a component during disassembly/reassembly. Since these repairs are happening in the United States where wages are high for technicians replacing these components, Apple may not even be breaking even after parts and labor. But it could be close to breaking even if they contract it out right...
  • piroroadkill - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    At the end of the day, the batteries degrade. That's not a scam. An original, OEM new battery, professional replaced, for $29, is a good deal.
  • SquarePeg - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    What is a "scam" is that Apple hid the fact that they were throttling performance in an effort to mask their poor engineering choices. This has caused countless tens of millions of people (if not hundreds of millions) to purchase new phones when all that was needed was a new battery. $29 is not a good deal when you consider that this is Apple in damage control mode and they are just trying to gloss over their massively unethical behavior. When Nexus 6P users were hit with random reboots because of "degraded" batteries Google replaced them with new Pixel XL's at no charge.
  • rsandru - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    SquarePeg: sorry but you're completely wrong. Rising output impedance of aging batteries (rechargeable or not) is just one of the constraints of developing high performance mobile devices. Apple engineers have addressed in the only possible way: to reduce current spikes by throttling the SoC. You can also look at it the other way around: they maximized performance of the SoC as much as possible on fresh batteries or when plugged in...

    Other phone manufacturers do exactly the same to avoid random reboots and crashes. I agree that Apple have shown dubious business practices with batteries but mixing this up with an electronics engineering constraint is at best and uninformed opinion...
  • id4andrei - Monday, January 1, 2018 - link

    Apple engineers did not take into account these constraints. That's why they first recalled a batch of iphones and then issued a band-aid. Firs they admitted the flaw - the recall - then they hid it - the "fix".

    It is not reasonable for the iphone 7 to start getting throttled after one year. This is flawed design, textbook planned obsolescence, especially in Europe where 2 years is the minimum mandatory warranty.

    In abstract it's a correct decision, in reality it represents flawed design. Average users do not wear the battery to such an extent in one year.
  • Stuka87 - Tuesday, January 2, 2018 - link

    The issue isn't caused by voltage drop. It caused by current drop. Thats what makes the phone reboot.

    My iPhone 6 had this exact issue. The random reboots were annoying as hell. Having the phone be slightly slower would have definitely been preferred (The code for the throttling was not in place back then).
  • CharonPDX - Wednesday, January 3, 2018 - link

    The cheapest battery replacement I've seen (WITHOUT labor) for an iPhone 6 Plus is $15. $15 for labor for Apple-official isn't exactly "raking in the dough." No way was the plan "to make a lot of money on battery swaps." I'd believe "convincing people to upgrade to the latest phone" much more than "make a lot of money on battery swaps."

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