Published in El Pais, August 13th 2019.
Roughly a year and a half ago Apple became under fire for their purposeful slow down of phones due to aging batteries. Many accused Apple of planned obsolescence (prematurely making the phone obsolete) so people would replace their phones faster. Apple claimed it was to prevent their phones shutting down due to old batteries. Regardless of what we believe it is, no doubt that Apple’s reputation took a hit. In response Apple made battery replacements cheaper for a year and released a diagnostic tool that allows you to see the health of the battery to alert you when it is time for a replacement.
It has now come to some iPhone owner’s attention however that Apple may not have learned their lesson. If you recently replaced the battery on a newer iPhone with a third-party version the diagnostic software will no longer work, instead showing a permanent warning message that a third-party battery has been detected and to please replace it with an Apple one. In fact, even if you got your hands on an authentic battery and replaced it yourself the message would still appear. This seems to be a clear attempt to limit third party repairs on their devices.
You could argue the benefits of sticking with genuine Apple parts and that maybe Apple is only limiting their liability but then why would the message still appear if their own battery was put in by someone outside of the store? Plus, in many countries where Apple has a limited presence replacing a battery from a genuine supplier may not even be an option.
Its time for governments to put a stop to this. A user’s right to repair their device is an important part of ownership. And if we can have access to affordable repair options, we can extend the lives of our phones and delay making expensive purchases.