Archived Post

Opinion: Getting back to the iPhone battery service issue

By David Balaban

I want to touch on the problem of the independent repair community not being fair to Apple. I almost never say things like that because I think Apple does a lot of bad things. I think they are too controlling, their reach is too far, and they prevent us from being able to extend the lives of our devices.

I think that we should call the tech giant out when it does bad things. At the same time, I think that we also must be fair because if we expect to be treated fairly, then we need also to be fair.

I think that this battery service issue that was being sensationalized needs some thought to be put on.

As humans, we tend to see black and white. It is either good or bad. You have to be really careful about doing that. I think that when you have a problem, you should just speak up and ask about it.

I would like to suggest a solution to the battery service message. It is something very simple. I think that it is somewhat misleading for the iOS to say Battery Health – Service. Instead, it is better to say something like Unverified, or Third-party, or even just a question mark. It is misleading to say Service for any battery and compatibility.

If you do a Google search for the word iPhone battery, you can see many of them for sale. You can get an iPhone battery from a cheap shop. And if a cheap battery goes in a phone that you buy from somebody, you would like to know it. I would like to know whether or not the phone that I am buying secondhand has an Apple genuine battery in it.

Right now, independent repair shops cannot access Apple batteries. I hope that changes, but I would like to know. I do not have a problem with the phone telling me this has an aftermarket battery. That is just information. It does not mean I am not going to buy that for this. But if this phone has a cheap battery, I want to know that.

Media outlets went crazy about this issue. Looking back at some of the articles, you can see how wrong they are. For example, this one: Apple Has Begun Software Locking iPhone Batteries to Prevent Third-Party Replacement.

That is not true and not fair. You can replace an iPhone battery. You could do it yesterday or two weeks ago, or any time. You can get a replacement. You put a new battery in your phone, and it will work. It will turn on, charge, and it will report the normal charge percentage. And with special tools, you can even know the cycle count.

Nothing has changed. The only thing that is different now is that it says Battery Health – Service. Yes, actually, it does not necessarily need service. It just means: “I do not detect the original battery.”

If you click on the message, it then tells you true things: “Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information is not available for this battery.” That is fair enough. I cannot demand Apple to say all is good when somebody puts in a cheap battery into my iPhone.

Again, I think that this is over-sensationalized with all this gloom and doom. I want to caution the independent repair community to be careful of what you say. I also do not understand when after this minor issue people start to proclaim, they will never buy an iPhone again. Let us first try to ask Apple to change it from Service to just a question mark. Let us see what happens. Again, it is a minor issue. There are a lot of more egregious things.

Returning to being mutually fair. Apple does a lot of good things that nobody talks about. Do you remember iOS 11 and iPhone 8? A bunch of them came up with no touch because a controller chip was different on the aftermarket screens. Guess what Apple did? They just rolled out an update, and they magically fixed it themselves. Did anyone ever mention that?

And there are other good things too. They constantly patch security holes and fight with malware. They add privacy features. They often do a lot of bad things, but the list of good things is also long. In iPad 3, there is a little shield to prevent you from slicing the power flex. There is a shield in the iPad 3 that is not in the iPad 2. In the iPhone 5, there was a little chip behind the battery that was damaged all the time. And in the iPhone 5S, they moved it. There are many improvements. Yes, it is a capitalist giant, but it is run by people like us and who live near us. I think that it is a mistake to always call Apple a villain. If you want to be treated fairly then be fair yourself!

David Balaban is a computer security researcher with over 17 years of experience in malware analysis and antivirus software evaluation. David runs MacSecurity.net and Privacy-PC.com projects that present expert opinions on contemporary information security matters, including social engineering, malware, penetration testing, threat intelligence, online privacy, and white hat hacking. David has a strong malware troubleshooting background, with a recent focus on ransomware countermeasures.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the publisher and editor of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!