A new report says that Apple is using some kind of mechanism that essentially throws up a massive error message if anyone other than an Apple technician attempts to put a new battery in an iPhone — even if the battery itself is an Apple product.
The report comes from Craig Lloyd of iFixit, and shows what the warning looks like. The user receives a “Service” notification alerting them to a problem with the new battery and directing them to the Settings app. In the Battery Health settings, an Important Message reads: “Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery.”
iFixit confirmed this service message appears in the iPhones XR, XS, and XS Max.If you want to see it in action, check this video from The Art of Repair YouTube channel, who spotted the problem first:
As shown in the video, this happens even if you are using an authentic Apple-made, Apple-branded battery. It doesn’t matter if you replace it or a third-party repair shop does. If the battery isn’t replaced by someone Apple approves of, you’re getting the warning.
To be clear, your phone will still work with these “unauthorized” batteries — but you won’t be able to access any health information on the battery itself, which can be crucial to knowing when to replace it again. Not to mention you’ll have that warning on your phone until you actually take it to an Apple store and they do whatever sorcery is needed to make it go away.
I wouldn’t blame new or unsavvy iPhone owners if they saw this warning and assumed it presaged disaster — it appears to be designed to send anxious users running to the Apple store after attempting a quick in-home battery swap. Lloyd told TNW, “It’s yet another small, incremental addition to Apple’s anti-repair practices that’s slowing chipping away at our right to fix our own iPhones… This kind of thing can erode the confidence of novice, but capable repairers, and they might get discouraged from performing future repairs.”
Apple is already well-known for its resistance to third-party repairs — or anything happening outside its purview, for that matter. According to Axios, the company is pushing back against the Right to Repair movement in Washington because, says a spokesperson, “We want to make sure our customers always have confidence their products will be repaired safely and correctly.” But locking even genuine batteries just to make it appear as though something is wrong with them seems petty and arbitrary even for Apple.
We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.