In response to worldwide anger at its handling of battery performance in older phones, Apple has announced that it will drastically reduce the price of replacement batteries. An out-of-warranty battery replacement, normally $79 for an iPhone 6 or later model, will instead cost $29 through December 2018.
The decision, announced on Apple’s blog, is certainly a boon for owners of older phones — Macworld describes it as “like getting a new iPhone for $30.” But it’s unlikely to fully undo the reputation damage Apple has suffered following the discovery that its software sometimes slowed the performance of phones with aging batteries.
Apple quite plausibly claimed that the move was intended to make those phones more reliable. But there was a widespread perception that the move was intended to make older phones less usable, forcing owners to upgrade to the latest model. Lawsuits more or less rooted in allegations of planned obsolescence have been filed against Apple in several U.S. states, Israel, and France.
Rumors that older-model smartphones were being maliciously slowed have circulated for years, and not just about the iPhone. But Apple has now become the focal point of that anger, which may be largely rooted in a lack of consumer awareness that phone batteries lose potency over time.
Apple appears to realize just how much is on the line. According to The Verge, the battery-replacement discount was originally slated to begin late January of 2018, but now appears to be effective immediately.