Apple's cheap iPhone battery replacements were wildly popular — 10 times as many people replaced their battery as normal

  • In 2018, Apple offered iPhone users a new battery for $US29, down from $US79.
  • Apple replaced 11 million batteries through the program, up from 1 million to 2 million it might have normally replaced, according to remarks by Apple CEO Tim Cook reported by Daring Fireball.
  • It shows that more people would replace their phone batteries if the price were lower.
  • Apple’s $US29 battery-replacement program is over, but it has quietly reduced prices: To replace the battery of an iPhone that came out last year costs $US69, and older-model battery swaps now cost $US49.

Last winter, Apple faced one of its toughest scandals yet.

People had discovered that Apple updated its iPhone software to slow down the top speed of its processor to save battery health on older devices.

The revelation caused an uproar. One of the oldest Apple conspiracy theories – that it slows down old phones through software updates – seemed to be true.

Apple’s response was to discount some battery replacements for a limited time, slashing the price to $US29 from $US79. This was done for many reasons, including to regain consumer trust and fend off pending class-action suits over the software.

Apparently, people took advantage of the offer. Apple replaced 11 million batteries in 2018 under the program, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote on Monday, citing remarks by Apple CEO Tim Cook at an internal all-hands meeting. Gruber reported that Cook said Apple might have normally replaced 1 million to 2 million batteries.

The number of battery replacements isn’t surprising. Last January, shortly after the program was announced, Apple Stores were slammed by customers looking for cheap new batteries,Business Insider reported. Some stores had to set up triage-like systems, with stations or tables devoted to helping people who wanted a battery replacement, retail employees said.

Gruber said the battery-replacement program might have affected iPhone sales – the company cited lower sales when it said earlier this month that it had collected at least $US5 billion less in revenue during the holiday quarter than it had told investors to expect. The battery-replacement program was even mentioned in Cook’s letter to investors as one reason for the miss.

That’s possible if a large percentage of the 11 million battery upgraders decided to pass on last year’s new iPhone models, figuring that a new battery made their old phone feel like new. But it also underscores that there is considerable consumer demand for smartphone-battery replacements and that Apple’s traditionally high prices for swapping a battery may persuade people to simply get a new iPhone.

Apple’s $US29 battery-replacement program is over, but it has quietly reduced prices for out-of-warranty battery replacements: It now costs $US69 to replace the battery of an iPhone that came out last year and $US49 for older iPhone models.

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