The iPhone battery issue - how does it affect local iPhone owners?

04 January 2018 - 17:19 By Wendy Knowler
A customer views the new iPhone 7 smartphone inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016.
A customer views the new iPhone 7 smartphone inside an Apple Inc. store in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 16, 2016.
Image: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“Yes‚ you will be able to buy replacement iPhone batteries‚ but we can’t say when or what they will cost.”

That’s essentially what iStore is telling South African iPhone owners in the wake of news from the US that Apple has offered to slash the price of out-of-warranty replacement batteries from the usual $79 to just $29.

Apple admitted last month that it intentionally slowed down older iPhones with weakening batteries via a software upgrade‚ to prevent the handset from shutting off abruptly when in use.

That’s sparked fury among owners of the iconic phone worldwide - and some legal action - many arguing that had they known‚ they’d have opted to buy new batteries rather than replace their slowed-up phone.

While there is confusion in the US about which phones will qualify for the heavily discounted replacement battery‚ iStore in South Africa has nothing to tell affected owners of iPhones here‚ for now.

“We are working on a South African cost for the battery replacement‚” said iStore CEO Chris Dodd.

“We will make these costs available to our customers in stores.”

As South Africa does not have any Apple stores‚ the eventual cost of replacement batteries for South African owners of iPhone 6‚ 6 Plus‚ 6s‚ 6s Plus‚ 7 and 7 Plus would include labour and middle man charges‚ said weFix COO Grant Webster.

The company carries out around 15‚000 “unauthorised” repairs on out-of-warranty Apple products a month.

Apple’s authorised partners in South Africa - Core & Digicape - do not carry out iPhone repairs.

“We’ve never stocked replacement batteries‚” said an employee at the iStore in Gateway‚ KwaZulu-Natal. “We have been made aware of the battery replacement issue with older iPhones by Apple‚ but we don’t have any details yet.”

Last week in an online poll conducted by UK consumer organisation Which? iPhone users were asked if the revelation had put them off buying another iPhone in the future. 65% said it had.

Several class action lawsuits have been taken out against Apple in the US and Israel.

Some of the claimants argue that they would have opted to replace their phone batteries‚ rather than buying a new phone‚ if they had been told by Apple that a battery replacement would have improved performance.

And in France‚ where it is illegal to degrade old products to promote the sale of new devices‚ a consumer organisation is pursuing criminal action against Apple.