The number of iPhone batteries Apple replaced in 2018 was over 5 times higher than expected

The number of iPhone batteries Apple replaced in 2018 was over 5 times higher than expected
Apple is not exactly at the top of its game right now with sales of its latest iPhones not hitting the targets set by the company. As we heard from Apple CEO Tim Cook himself, one of the reasons for those unexpected results is the battery replacement program that the company started early 2018.

Apple was pressured to begin the program after it was discovered it throttled older iPhones once their batteries degraded to a certain level. During the promotion period that ended December 31, 2018, customers could get a battery change for their iPhone 6 or later models for a heavily reduced price.

If you, like us, were wondering how many batteries must have been changed to affect the revenue stream of a company as big as Apple, then you’d be happy to hear that we now have an answer. Coming from the DaringFireball blog via AppleInsider is the information that around 11 million users opted for a cheap battery replacement during 2018.

According to the source, Apple’s estimate for that number was in the ballpark of 1-2 million, which is obviously a huge difference between expectations and reality. Of course, we can’t assume that all those extra 9 million people would have gotten new iPhones if it wasn’t for the program. But we can allow ourselves some quick speculation. If even just a third of them had bought a new iPhone instead, with an average price of around $800, that’s a hefty $2.4 billion that Apple lost in revenue.

Since Apple releases its phones towards the end of the year, it wasn’t clear how much the replacement program will affect sales of the new models until the numbers started coming in. And when they did, the surprise wasn’t pleasant. 

Now, after this revenue sink has been closed, Apple might see a slight uptick in sales in the upcoming months, which we're sure the executives at Cupertino will be happy to see.

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48 Comments

1. mootu

Posts: 1520; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

If Apple hadn't used cheap low quality batteries in the first place then they would not need to throttle customers phones and the battery replacement program would never have happened. This problem is all of Apples own making and they have to live with the consequences.

3. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

I guess it would be more trouble if apple just let their phones randomly shutting down due to old batteries.

7. Marcwand3l

Posts: 439; Member since: May 08, 2017

They are shutting down due to bad design. And the iphone 7 started to exhibit the battery issuer less than a year since it's launch. That can hardly be considered old.

24. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1560; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

It's not old batteries, its low quality batteries.

28. Knownhost

Posts: 107; Member since: Nov 13, 2017

The phones belong to the consumers who paid for them. Apple intentionally degraded the performance of these purchased phones, without notice. I have never seen any reports about older iPhones shutting down due to battery wear. Not. Once. This shutdown claim is an excuse, not a reason. Had they not been caught red-handed, 11 million people would have had devices that had been intentionally sabotaged. Who knows how many people still walk around with these sabotaged phones? Few people read sites such as this and have no clue.

4. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Apple has been selling more than 650 mil iPhones (6s, 7 and 8) in the last 4 years; 11 mil - although a big number - is just 1.7% and that should tell you that iPhone batteries are not as bad as you make them to be.

8. Marcwand3l

Posts: 439; Member since: May 08, 2017

Interesting anecdote but pointless. There's a limit to how many batteries Apple can replace. So most people weren't able get back the performance of their iphones(even if they wanted to).

9. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

There was never a shortage of batteries at any of authorized repair shops in my country (I don't know about the world, but it's safe to assume at least one repair shop in every major town has always had replacement batteries available throughout this time).

40. Marcwand3l

Posts: 439; Member since: May 08, 2017

You don't understand. I'm talking about available time and number of employees able to do those battery replacements. In a lot of places there a waiting lists for example. It's designious of you to try to make is seem like any user that wanted to replace his batter already did so.

41. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

A friend of mine let the phone in service yesterday and by the end of the day today he got it back with a brand new battery; I replaced last year - at the beginning - a battery for 5s in the same day (it took a few minutes). So what are talking about? I'm not saying everyone did replace the battery, I'm just saying anybody COULD HAVE REPLACED the battery.

15. Jrod99

Posts: 729; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

My 6s plus after 3 years was still running fine. Turn out to be a great phone. Hope this Max turns in good performance.

29. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Good for you. I'm planning on keeping my 7 at least 2-3y from now as a backup phone.

10. midan

Posts: 2884; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

I'm pretty sure they use exact same batteries than everyone else. If they use different batteries we would know it and it would be all over the news.

2. SIGPRO

Posts: 2817; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Fruit company used crappy batteries and got caught cheating because of throttling! The battery replacement should have been free of charge because they screwed the customers. But iFans are dumb, fruit company offered battery replacement for €29 instead if €89, they said what a deal they care about us.........

5. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Apple, apple, apple. You thought using substandard batteries will give you more money but now, it's backfiring to you in different ways. I don't mind you charging high price but make sure that every component you use is worth that price tag you ask us.

6. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

A processor speed is directly connected to the amount of power it receives. In order to do 100 tasks, a soc needs 10 units of power from the battery so a full charge is able to allow the performing of 1000 tasks (the numbers are made up, just follow the principle). With time, the battery looses its properties and only provide 90, than 80, than... units of power. The soc handles this in 2 ways: 1. it performs the same number of tasks/power unit (meaning that it can perform 900 tasks/full charge with a 90% battery, 800/full charge with a 80% battery etc) 2. it lowers the clock speed to perform the same number of tasks/power unit but it will do them slower so you'll still be having the same 1000 tasks/full charge, no matter how much power there is in the battery (100, 90 or even 50%). Apple's A chip had the second approach (the same happens with Intel based laptops, the same exact thing happens with battery power mode in Android phones: the performance drops when the processor lacks enough power).

25. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1560; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Only issue is that isn't how battery tech works and no Android or Windows product has done that to me.

30. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

That is exactly how the chip - be it Intel, AMD or SD - handles lower voltages in both Android and Windows devices.

34. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1421; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

You're working under the wrong premise though. The damage that is done to the batteries isn't just in the capacity but in the output. The voltage output becomes weaker, yet the SoC demands the same power for the same tasks, but the battery can't delivery and that's what caused iPhones to shut down. Turning down the clockspeed results in less demand for power, thus a weaker battery can operate without problems until it degrades further. The real thing that bothers me though, there is no solution. The same software was added to the iPhone X and 8 models to throttle the performance once batteries degrade sufficiently, people have already replaced their iPhone X battery because it was being throttled. Yet Apple discontinued the low priced battery replacement, it made assurances the battery issues wouldn't occur on those models because of the new SoC design and yet they added the same "feature". Did Apple lied about the SoC not damaging the battery to the same extent, are the batteries just not that good or has it become standard practice to replace your battery after a year or so? Will the same apply to the 2018 models? It's yet another shady Apple situation.

35. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

You are right the voltage is also affected and it affects the performance, I just have simplified the explanation. There is nothing we can do, unless we change the laws of physics. Apple implemented in the Battery menu the option to see the battery health and to control the performance of the device. The batteries in iPhones are just fine for more than 2-3y - I know, because I have/had iPhones for longer periods of time and they performed on par with other battery powered devices.

11. slim3bdo

Posts: 173; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Its pointless to argue with a apple stoned clown . 1- apple uses crappy bettery thats why since iphone 4 , the battery is good for a year , less than that if you are heavy user . 2- apple used crappy bettery by design so it encourge coustmers to upgrade since thier phones need to be charged 2 or 3 times a day after one year . 3 - the prblem exposed when crappy iphones started to shut down with 40+ % of baatery , thats when the update rolled out to fix the problem by throttling the cpu ( imagine to buy an iphone with the selling point is a super cpu which you wont be able to utilize its power after one year , not only that the phone becomes crippled and slow like hell . Its not the 1st bad design by apple , just check the mac line , to see stupid engineering mistakes that were never fixed , up to 3 mac generations . And it was intended by apple to keep this design flaws so it can charge customers for insane repairs , or push them to upgrade Bottom line apple sucks every penny from its loyal stupid costmers , and yes apple customers are stupid , no sane person will keep buying overpriced incapable badly designed products , with over the roof repair costs . To know all that and to know that fruit company try by iliagle ways to stop 3rd party repair shops ( which actually repair your product , not like the stupid repair centers that only know one thing which is replace , replace and replace to know all that and keep buying from this company you are a stupid person imo .

12. midan

Posts: 2884; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"and yes apple customers are stupid , no sane person will keep buying overpriced incapable badly designed products" and yet Apple have most satisfied customers with their every products, but hey of course you know more about product which you don't use ;) boys like you are so funny, are you 14? i really hope you are not older, then i could understand.

14. Vancetastic

Posts: 1320; Member since: May 17, 2017

I’ll just point out that if we use you as an example, “satisfied” very obviously doesn’t equal “smart”.

26. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1560; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

Not to mention Samsung passed them in customer satisfaction several times, and customer satisfaction of the iPhone X was below the iPhone 7 and 8.

37. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1421; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Actually several customer research studies have shown Samsung users to top Apple users in satisfaction.

13. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

You have absolutely no idea what are you talking about, that's why you're just as funny as a clown. I owned a 5s for 4 years; in the first 3y my battery was able to provide me with a 4h30-5h charge (after 2y 5s was my second phone), after 4y, it could still provide 3h30-4h; before the 5s I had a HTC - in 3 years of usage I have changed 2 batteries, because the usage time went from 4h to ~1-2h. I'm not saying HTC was bad, I'm just saying battery looses its capacity in time. With the 7 - which I have been using for 2y - I have more than 800 recharge cycles and my battery is well over 80% (Apple warranty is saying he iPhone will be over 80 with at least 500 full recharge cycles, my 7 was 60% over that number) and I have never seen a respring in the cold (a friend with 8 just replaced his phone because of that so I know the problem was there); when I was filming in 4k for a long period of time (especially with a beta build of iOS) the phone got hot and I could see a performance drop, but that was the extended of the "throtelling" Apple "inflicted" on the 7. The P9 (which is 2y old) needs 2-3 charges/day, but the person using it is always online, P8 (which is also 2y old) also need me to change the battery (I will just change the phone altogether, because it's just bad), the A5 (2017, bought last summer) hold up beautifully so far (battery wise), no complaints for XR either (but this one is new). So, are Apple batteries crappy? Of course not, they are just as good as the batteries in any other phone. Did Apple withhold information, making some of its users change their phones rather than changing their batteries? Probably. Did they had problems with some batches of phones? Definitely. Big problems? Well, yes, if you think that 1.7% is a big problem, no, if you don't. Is this defending Apple? Certainly not (I was one of those that have said that users with less than 500 full cycles and more than 80% battery health should have demanded free of charge batteries), it's just setting your lack of knowledge straight.

16. midan

Posts: 2884; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"So, are Apple batteries crappy? Of course not, they are just as good as the batteries in any other phone." Exactly, it's funny that someone is thinking that Apple getting worse batteries from somewhere. That would make huge potential risk for users safety. They use exact same batteries than everyone else.

31. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

The same technology, but Apple gets a better time/mAh management through iOS.

20. Vancetastic

Posts: 1320; Member since: May 17, 2017

Why did you waste all that time on an obvious Apple-hating troll?

32. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I only write what I do for the sake of the arguments, I don't do it for someone in particular. I know sometimes is futile, but sometimes what can you do... :).

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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