iFixit: Apple ‘Locking’ iPhone Batteries to Discourage Third-Party Replacements

Apple has activated a "dormant software lock" on its latest iPhones to discourage battery replacements that aren't undertaken by Apple, reports iFixit.


The teardown group has discovered that an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or iPhone XS Max that has had its battery swapped by anyone other than Apple or an Apple authorized service provider will now display a message saying their battery needs servicing.

The message appears in both iOS 12 and iOS 13 beta, even if the replacement is a genuine Apple battery, and prevents the user from accessing the Battery Health features in Settings. The "Service" message reads as follows:
Important Battery Message

Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery.
iFixit says the message doesn't appear to affect the functionality of the battery, but makes it harder to know when a replacement battery installed by a third-party needs to be replaced.

YouTube channel The Art of Repair has discovered the source of the message to be a Texas Instruments microcontroller installed on the battery itself, which authenticates the battery as an Apple one and provides the iPhone with information about battery capacity and temperature. Presumably Apple uses special diagnostics software to reset the "Service" status when it undertakes an in-house iPhone battery replacement.

The message appears designed to deter battery replacements using third-party repair kits like the one sold by iFixit, and to discourage customers from getting a third-party repair shop to swap out their iPhone battery.

Apple would probably argue it is doing it out of safety concerns surrounding the replacement of swollen or damaged batteries. Nonetheless, it places further restrictions on the options available to iPhone users looking to get their battery replaced by anyone except Apple.


The practice also harks back to a similar third-party iPhone repair controversy: Error 53, widely publicized in 2016, caused some iPhone 6 users who had the Home buttons on their iPhones fixed by a non-Apple technician using non-original parts to see their iPhones bricked following a software update.

When the error code first surfaced, Apple said that error 53 was a protective security feature meant to prevent "malicious" third-party components from potentially compromising a user's iPhone.

However, after public outcry, Apple released a software update restoring functionality to bricked iPhones. Following the software update to unbrick iPhones, Apple claimed that the error 53 issue was meant to be a factory test and never should have impacted consumer devices.

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Base 2019 13-Inch MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals Larger Battery, Soldered-Down SSD, and Updated Keyboard Material

iFixit has shared a teardown of the new entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, which was refreshed this week with Intel's latest 8th-generation processors, a True Tone display, Touch Bar, Touch ID, and the Apple T2 security chip.


The teardown reveals a larger battery with a 58.2 Wh capacity, which slightly exceeds the 54.5 Wh battery found in the previous-generation function key model. iFixit guesses this is how the 2019 model manages to power the Touch Bar, Touch ID, and T2 chip while keeping the same 10-hour battery life.

To make room for the Touch ID sensor alongside the Touch Bar, iFixit notes that Apple appears to be using a slightly smaller heat sink. The speaker opposite the fan also looks to have been shrunk in size.

While the previous-generation entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro had a modular SSD, storage is soldered down in the 2019 model. However, there are some newly modular components, including the Thunderbolt board and the speakers. This configuration is in line with other modern MacBook Pro designs.

As we confirmed earlier this week, the notebook has the same third-generation butterfly keyboard with updated material as the higher-end 2019 MacBook Pro models introduced in May, with Apple promising improved reliability.


Like most other modern MacBooks, this model earned a low repairability score from iFixit due to the usual concerns, such as Apple's use of proprietary pentalobe screws, a glued-in battery, and soldered-down storage and RAM. One positive is that the trackpad can be replaced without touching the battery.

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iFixit Finds 2019 MacBook Pro Keyboard Has ‘Subtle’ Changes to Membrane Cover and Switches

Apple surprised us with a MacBook Pro refresh earlier this week. 2019 models feature faster Intel processors with up to eight cores for the first time, but also a new "material" added to the keyboard to hopefully reduce issues such as sticky and repeating keys that prompted Apple's worldwide repair program.


Apple didn't elaborate on the new material, but the repair experts at iFixit have completed a teardown of the 2019 MacBook Pro and discovered a "subtle change" made to the silicone membrane covering the keyboard switches.

Whereas the membrane in the 2018 MacBook Pro is "semi-opaque" and "feels like silicone," iFixit says the cover in the 2019 model is "clearer and smooth to the touch." Based on infrared analysis, it appears the 2018 membrane was made with polyacetylene, while the 2019 covers uses polyamide, aka nylon.

"Where 2018 models had a rubbery feel and milky look, this plastic is crinkly and transparent," wrote iFixit in an email. "The metal dome over each key switch is subtly different, too. It could be a new surface treatment, and/or a tweaked alloy, possibly to alleviate problems with durability, bounce-back, or other issues."

More details from the teardown to follow…

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iFixit Removes Galaxy Fold Teardown at Samsung’s Request

iFixit has decided to pull its revealing Samsung Galaxy Fold teardown. The decision is said to have been made after Samsung indirectly requested its removal from the website, which published the teardown on Wednesday. iFixit provided the following statement on its blog:

We were provided our Galaxy Fold unit by a trusted partner. Samsung has requested, through that partner, that iFixit remove its teardown. We are under no obligation to remove our analysis, legal or otherwise. But out of respect for this partner, whom we consider an ally in making devices more repairable, we are choosing to withdraw our story until we can purchase a Galaxy Fold at retail.
It's unclear why Samsung wanted the teardown removed, but a few possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the company intends to make significant changes to the design of the Galaxy Fold before it's officially launched, and it doesn't want a teardown on the web of a device that's substantially different to the one that eventually goes to market. Or maybe it was simply taking action against a partner that hadn't been given the authority to provide the device to iFixit in the first place.

Another interpretation, offered by The Verge's Dieter Bohn, is that Samsung didn't appreciate the bad press that came with the teardown, after it exposed the design flaw allowing debris to ingress behind the display, which presumably caused so many review units to break, and led Samsung to recall them and then delay the device's launch. Whatever the reason, it doesn't look terribly good for the company.

Samsung has yet to offer a new release date for the Galaxy Fold. In an email sent on Wednesday to pre-order customers about the delayed launch, Samsung said that it will update customers with more specific shipping information in two weeks. In the meantime, anyone still interested in checking out iFixit's teardown can find it on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.


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iFixit Teardown of Samsung Galaxy Fold Reveals Likely Design Flaw

iFixit today published its teardown of Samsung's Galaxy Fold, offering more details on a potential flaw in the device, which has now been delayed following reports of several broken review units.

Essentially, it looks as though Samsung was so focused on perfecting the folding mechanism on the smartphone/tablet hybrid that it made a major oversight: providing adequate protection against the ingress of debris between the OLED screen and the chassis bezel.

To achieve the fold, the thin bezel that surrounds (and protects) the screen leaves a gap where the two halves meet... This 7 mm gap doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it leaves the display exposed—so should something accidentally enter, it's curtains for the screen. (Oops.)

When closed, the screen is protected—but the spine is flanked by massive gaps that our opening picks hop right into. These gaps are less likely to cause immediate screen damage, but will definitely attract dirt.
As iFixit notes, it will be interesting to see how future folding designs will overcome these weaknesses - if indeed they have a future. Following Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi revealed that they too will launch folding smartphones, and there are signs Apple is looking into the possibility of a foldable iPhone. Apple has filed several patent applications related to folding phones that variously fold inward, outward, and both inward and outward.

Potential point of entry for debris ingress (Image: iFixit)

As for the Galaxy Fold, the months ahead look increasingly uncertain. One day after Samsung said it was delaying the launch of the hybrid handset, the company announced that it would be retrieving all Fold devices that were distributed to reviewers.

Many reviewers experienced multiple issues while testing the device, including a random bulge appearing on the display, as well as flickering and failing screens. In many cases, the issues were enough to make the $1,980 device completely unusable.

In an email to pre-order customers about the delayed launch, Samsung said that it will update customers with more specific shipping information in two weeks. "Your pre-order guarantees your place in the queue for this innovative technology," the company promised.


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iPad Air Teardown: A12 Bionic Processor With 3GB of RAM, Bluetooth 5 and Larger Battery, But Lacks ProMotion Display Tech

iFixit today shared a teardown of the resurrected iPad Air, confirming specs and providing some additional details about the component parts of Apple's new middle-tier tablet, which is compatible with the first-gen Apple Pencil.


The iPad Air is identical in size and thickness to the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and just a bit lighter weight. iFixit notes that outwardly, the only design differences include a new, darker Space Gray color, the absence of a camera bump, and two speakers compared to the iPad Pro's four. The new model number is A2152.

Opening the iPad Air up reveals an internal layout and central logic board similar to Apple's 2017 iPad Pro range. The dual-celled 30.8 Wh battery is a little bigger than the 30.2 Wh Apple advertises on its site, and a provides a step up from the 27.6 Wh battery in the 2014 iPad Air 2. Battery life is advertised as up to 10 hours.

Meanwhile, Apple's A12 Bionic processor is layered over 3GB of RAM, and iFixit confirms the rear camera remains at 8 megapixels.

Otherwise, as iFixit notes, the size is similar, the Pencil support is similar, and the chips are similar to the old 10.5-inch iPad Pro. However, the Air lacks the latter's ProMotion 120 Hz technology that's now exclusive to the 2018 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. ProMotion automatically adjusts the display to the movement of the content, for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness and smoother motion.

The new iPad Air is harder to take apart than the late 10.5-inch iPad Pro, since it lacks the latter's stretch-release adhesive pull tabs and includes extra adhesive near the top of the screen. As such, iFixit gives the new iPad Air a 2/10 for repairability, the same score the new iPad mini earned in yesterday's teardown.

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iPad mini 5 Teardown: A12 Bionic Processor With 3GB of RAM, Bluetooth 5, True Tone Sensors, and Same Battery Capacity

iFixit today shared a teardown of the new iPad mini, confirming specs and providing some additional details about the component parts of Apple's smallest fifth-generation tablet, which is compatible with the first-gen Apple Pencil.


iFixit notes that the only exterior clue that distinguishes the new iPad mini from the earlier model is its model number, A2133, and the removal of regulatory markings on the back, which can now be found in software.

Inside, the new mini has an 8-megapixel rear camera and inherits the 7-megapixel ƒ/2.2 front-facing camera setup that first appeared in the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, offering a big step up from the 1.2-megapixel sensor in the iPad mini 4.

Other changes in evidence include a faster A12 Bionic processor, 3GB of RAM (up from 2GB), True Tone sensors, a migrated set of microphones now centered near the front-facing camera, and a different battery type in the iPad mini 5, although its 19.32 Wh rating matches that offered by the previous iPad mini.

Like the iPad Air (iFixit teardown due tomorrow), the iPad mini features two speakers for stereo sound, dual microphones, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11ac, Gigabit class LTE on cellular models, and eSIM technology.

While many components are modular and can be replaced independently, iFixit notes that gobs of adhesive hold many parts and cables in place, including the Home button, complicating all repairs. Replacing the battery is also said to be possible, but still unnecessarily difficult. As a result, iPad mini earns an iFixit repairability score of 2.

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AirPods 2 Teardown: H1 Chip With Bluetooth 5.0, Same Batteries, and Water-Repellent Coating on Charging Case Board

iFixit today shared a teardown of the second-generation AirPods, providing a closer look at the H1 chip with Bluetooth 5.0 and the same 93 milliwatt hour battery in each of the AirPods in line with the original pair.

New charging case on left and new AirPods with H1 chip labeled in red on right via iFixit

The repair website also pried open the new wireless charging case, which continues to have a 398 mAh battery capacity, and said there is a new "water-repellent coating" on the circuit board. The teardown notes that the updated charging case "seems designed for increased durability, but not repairability."


Unsurprisingly, the new AirPods earned a zero for repairability, as iFixit says they remain "disappointingly disposable." AirPods are not designed to be serviced, as no hardware components can be accessed without damaging the earphones, and sealed-in batteries make the AirPods a consumable product.


Many of these details were already known, but the teardown still provides an interesting look at the internal differences compared to the first-generation AirPods. More photos and tech specs are available over on iFixit's website.

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iFixit’s Do-it-Yourself iPhone Battery Replacement Kits to Remain $29.99 Until End of 2019

iFixit today announced that its do-it-yourself iPhone battery replacement kits will remain $29.99 until the end of 2019.


The repair website lowered the price of its kits in late 2017 to match Apple's discounted iPhone battery replacement fee of $29, which ended on December 31, 2018. Apple now charges $49 to replace the battery in the iPhone 6 through iPhone 8 Plus and $69 for the iPhone X and newer outside of warranty.

Apple had lowered its battery replacement fee after controversy erupted about a performance management feature it quietly introduced in iOS 10.2.1. The feature, when enabled, has the potential of slowing down older iPhone models with degraded batteries when necessary to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple replaced 11 million iPhones in 2018, up from a usual one to two million per year, according to John Gruber.

iFixit's kits include all of the tools necessary to open up an iPhone and swap in a new battery for those willing to give it a try. If the idea of opening up your iPhone sounds uncomfortable to you, it is probably best to stick to the Genius Bar.

Note that do-it-yourself iPhone battery replacements can have warranty implications.

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iFixit Begins Selling 2018 Mac Mini RAM Upgrade Kit, Save Up to $275 Versus Apple

Unlike the previous 2014 model, the 2018 Mac mini has user-upgradeable RAM. The repair experts at iFixit are now selling a do-it-yourself RAM upgrade kit for the 2018 Mac mini that can save you hundreds of dollars.


The upgrade kit includes 16GB or 32GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM, the same type of memory Apple uses in the 2018 Mac mini, along with all of the tools and bits needed to complete the upgrade: an iFixit opening tool, a spudger, angled tweezers, a precision bit driver, and three types of 4mm Torx precision bits.

2018 Mac mini models are equipped with 8GB of RAM by default, but they can be configured with 16GB or 32GB of RAM on Apple's online store for an extra $200 or $600 respectively. By comparison, iFixit charges $164.99 for its 16GB kit and $324.99 for its 32GB kit, reflecting savings of $35 and $275 respectively.

Three things to keep in mind:
  • This is iFixit-branded RAM that matches Apple's specifications.
  • If you ever need in-warranty service on your 2018 Mac mini, and Apple detects that you opened up the computer, the Genius Bar is permitted to and likely will deny service. Apple's warranty forbids do-it-yourself repairs.
  • There is a risk of damaging the Mac mini if the upgrade is not completed carefully.
Those interested in proceeding can follow iFixit's 2018 Mac mini RAM replacement guide.

iFixit also sells the 16GB RAM modules individually for $159.99 each.

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