Apple on iPhone Battery Locking Issue: We Want to Make Sure Battery Replacement is Done Properly

Last week, iPhone repair site iFixit highlighted a new iPhone feature described as a "dormant software lock" designed to prevent customers who get unauthorized battery repairs from seeing the battery health of their devices.

On an iPhone XS, XS Max, or iPhone XR, getting a repair from a non-Apple authorized source results in a message that says "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine battery," with the iPhone refusing to display battery health information.


Apple today provided a statement on the issue to iMore, confirming that it did indeed introduce "a new feature" last year that brings up the aforementioned message when a non-authorized battery repair is made, with the aim of protecting customers from "damaged, poor quality, or used batteries."
We take the safety of our customers very seriously and want to make sure any battery replacement is done properly. There are now over 1,800 Apple authorized service providers across the United States so our customers have even more convenient access to quality repairs.

Last year we introduced a new feature to notify customers if we were unable to verify that a new, genuine battery was installed by a certified technician following Apple repair processes. This information is there to help protect our customers from damaged, poor quality, or used batteries which can lead to safety or performance issues. This notification does not impact the customer's ability to use the phone after an unauthorized repair.
On an iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max that has a battery replaced outside of an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, the iPhone will simply read "Service" and will provide the messaging about a battery that can't be verified.

The battery health feature that lets customers see the health of their batteries is blocked and not available, with no measurement of maximum capacity or peak performance capacity.

iFixit discovered that this message pops up regardless of the battery being used. An unauthorized repair from a shop using a genuine Apple battery from another iPhone displays the warning message just as a third-party non-Apple battery does.

According to Apple, the notification about the non-genuine battery does not affect a customer's ability to use the phone after the repair, but it is of course going to make customers wary of third-party repair shops that are not authorized by Apple.

The only way to avoid the messaging when getting a battery replacement on an iPhone XS, XS Max, XR (and presumably future iPhones) is to get that repair done through Apple. Apple charges $69 for an out-of-warranty replacement battery in its newest iPhones, which is more expensive than many third-party repair shops.

Repairs are free with AppleCare+ and when iPhones are under the one-year standard warranty, but as these iPhones age and are no longer covered, customers will need to shell out more money for an Apple-certified repair or live with a non-functioning battery health feature.


Research from YouTube channel The Art of Repair suggests that Apple's newest iPhones use a Texas Instruments microcontroller on the battery, which is designed to authenticate the battery.

Repairs from Apple and Apple Authorized Service Providers likely use Apple's proprietary RepairCal diagnostics software to reset the "Service" status when doing a battery replacement, something that can't be replicated by non-Apple repair shops without the required equipment.


This article, "Apple on iPhone Battery Locking Issue: We Want to Make Sure Battery Replacement is Done Properly" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple on Right to Repair: We Want Customers to Be Confident Their Products Will Be ‘Repaired Safely and Correctly’

Right to Repair advocates continue to lobby the U.S. government, arguing that large tech companies like Apple are monopolizing repairs of consumer electronics in order to preserve profits, reports Axios.

Image: iFixit.com

In testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law last month, Nathan Proctor of the non-profit U.S. Public Interest Research Group claimed that "repair hurts sales," giving Apple "an incentive to restrict repair of their devices."

Similarly, in a letter submitted to the subcommittee last month, The Repair Association's executive director Gay Gordon-Byrne wrote that "manufacturers have no reasons for blocking repair other than money," referring to the "monopolization of repair" as a "huge profit opportunity."

In March, California became the 20th state to introduce Right to Repair legislation in the U.S., according to iFixit. Apple representatives have continually opposed these bills, which if passed would require companies to make repair parts, tools, and documentation available to the public.

In a statement, an Apple spokesperson told Axios that Apple's goal is to ensure its products are "repaired safely and correctly," while touting the company's growing network of Apple Authorized Service Providers:
We want to make sure our customers always have confidence their products will be repaired safely and correctly, and in a way that supports recycling. We are continually growing our network of certified technicians and most recently announced that any Best Buy store in the U.S. is now an authorized service provider.
Apple Authorized Service Providers have access to certified parts and service guidelines from Apple. There are over 1,800 of these authorized locations in the United States, which Apple said is "three times as many locations as three years ago." As of June, that includes every Best Buy store in the country.

Right to Repair legislation aims to make these parts and documentation available to independent shops and customers directly.


This article, "Apple on Right to Repair: We Want Customers to Be Confident Their Products Will Be 'Repaired Safely and Correctly'" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Fights Proposed Right to Repair Legislation With Warnings of Consumer Harm

Apple is fighting Right to Repair initiatives in California by telling lawmakers that consumers could hurt themselves attempting to repair their own devices, reports Motherboard.

Over the course of the last few weeks, an Apple representative and a lobbyist for ComTIA, a trade organization representing major tech companies, have been meeting with legislators in California with the aim of killing right to repair legislation that would make it easier for customers to repair their own electronics.

Image via iFixit

The pair have met with members of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, which held a meeting on a right to repair bill this afternoon. Apple told lawmakers that customers could potentially injure themselves by accidentally puncturing the batteries in Apple devices during attempted repairs.
The lobbyists brought an iPhone to the meetings and showed lawmakers and their legislative aides the internal components of the phone. The lobbyists said that if improperly disassembled, consumers who are trying to fix their own iPhone could hurt themselves by puncturing the lithium-ion battery, the sources, who Motherboard is not naming because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said.
Apple has continually lobbied against right to repair legislation across multiple states. Such legislation would require companies like Apple to provide repair parts, tools, and make repair information available to the public.

Apple devices are notoriously hard to repair given the small, proprietary components and large amounts of adhesive, with repair site iFixit giving Apple products almost universally low repair scores.

Still, the difficult repairability has not stopped thousands of small independent repair shops from making iPhone repairs. Nathan Proctor, director of consumer rights group US PIRG's right to repair campaign, told Motherboard that suggesting there are safety concerns related to spare parts and manuals is "patently absurd."

"We know that all across the country, millions of people are doing this for themselves. Millions more are taking devices to independent repair technicians," he said.


This article, "Apple Fights Proposed Right to Repair Legislation With Warnings of Consumer Harm" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Lost Lawsuit Against Independent iPhone Repair Shop in Norway Over Unauthorized Parts

Apple last year sued an aftermarket repair shop in Norway, accusing the owner, Henrik Huseby of infringing on Apple's trademarks by using non-genuine aftermarket repair parts.

Details on the lawsuit were shared today by Motherboard, a site that has been covering "Right to Repair" efforts in the United States.

Apple started out by sending Huseby a letter demanding that he stop using aftermarket displays to repair broken devices after Norwegian customs officials seized iPhone 6 and 6s replacement screens that were addressed to him and discovered they were counterfeit.

Image via iFixit

Huseby had ordered the screens, which were "refurbished screens assembled by a third party" from Hong Kong. The displays were refurbished using genuine broken iPhone components.

Apple wanted Huseby to destroy the counterfeit displays, pay a fine of about $3566, and sign an agreement not to manufacture, import, sell, or otherwise "deal with any products that infringe Apple's trademarks." Huseby decided he would not sign Apple's settlement, instead deciding to fight it, leading Apple to sue him.

According to Norwegian news sites, Apple had five lawyers working on the case against Huseby, but he ultimately won when the court sided with him. Apple appealed the decision and Huseby is waiting to hear whether or not a court will accept the appeal.
The court decided that Norwegian law "does not prohibit a Norwegian mobile repair person from importing mobile screens from Asian manufacturers that are 100 percent compatible and completely identical to Apple's own iPhone screens, so long as Apple's trademark is not applied to the product." [...]

"It is not obvious to the court what trademark function justifies Apple's choice of imprinting the Apple logo on so many internal components," the court wrote. "Huseby is largely dependent on being able to import screens with covered up Apple logos to be able to operate in the market as a non-authorized iPhone repair technician."

"They threw all kinds of claims against me and told me the laws and acted so friendly and just wanted me to sign the letter so it would all be over," Huseby told Motherboard. I had a good lawyer that completely understood the problem, did good research, and read the law correctly."

As Motherboard points out, while the specifics of the legal case will only be relevant to Norway, the lawsuit should be of interest to other independent repair shops around the world who may face similar situations with Apple. In the U.S., for example, Apple has worked with ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to seize counterfeit parts and raid independent iPhone repair shops.

It's no surprise that Apple does not want its iPhones and other devices repaired with counterfeit and inauthentic parts because it can lead to a whole slew of problems, and in fact, damage caused by such repairs can void a device's warranty.

Some repair shops don't want to pay Apple's fees or submit to Apple's restrictions to become an Apple Authorized Service Provider, however, which is the only way to receive genuine replacement parts. This dispute between Apple and independent repair shops is at the heart of the "Right to Repair" legislation that Apple is lobbying against in several states.

Apple may also be disabling certain iPhone features after repairs are done by aftermarket shops, even when using genuine parts. Earlier this week, a report suggested iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus display repairs disable the ambient light sensor on the devices, preventing the device's auto brightness features from working. It's still not clear if this is a bug or intentional, as Apple has not commented.


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Unauthorized iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X Display Replacements Can Break Ambient Light Sensor

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models that have been repaired with a new display by an unauthorized third-party repair outlet are affected by a problem where the fix seems to disable the device's ability to adjust brightness automatically, according to report from Engadget and Motherboard.

The issue appears to impact replacement displays installed by non-Apple certified repair shops even when using genuine Apple parts, and it seems to be related to the functionality of the ambient light sensor. It is not a problem that affects display components replaced by Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

iPhone X internal image via iFixit

According to Engadget, the aftermarket repair community has confirmed the issue in multiple countries and in several versions of iOS, including iOS 11.1, iOS 11.2, and iOS 11.3. Engadget also experienced the bug first hand after swapping the displays of two new iPhones, which disabled the ambient light sensor of the devices.
I was able to confirm that even swapping the displays of two brand-new iPhones causes the ambient light sensor to stop working, despite it not being altered or touched in any way. Experiments have shown that the sensor is disabled by iOS during the boot process.
It is not known if the disabling of the ambient light sensor after a display replacement is a feature or a bug, because there is precedent for iPhone features to be disabled following unauthorized repairs. As an example, after Touch ID was introduced, users who had their Home buttons and Touch ID sensors repaired by non-Apple technicians saw Touch ID disabled.

This was known as the "Error 53" issue, and Apple at the time confirmed that it was intentionally disabling Touch ID following unauthorized third-party repairs using non-original components because of security and validation issues. Error 53 initially bricked iPhones, which Apple said was in error and fixed, but to this day an unauthorized Touch ID repair will disable the Touch ID sensor on an affected device.

Repair outlets that spoke to Engadget suspect that Apple may be using the ambient light sensor as a "test-case" to control the repair process and "link hardware with logic boards so if [an iPhone is] repaired outside of the Apple network it loses functionality," but this has not been confirmed.
"We try to offer a cheap alternative [to Apple], and we only use genuine parts. I'm worried that customers are going to come back to me and demand that I fix it. What can I do if Apple is the one disabling the sensor?" Another source said that they repaired between 20 and 50 iPhone 8 screens per month.
Apple has not yet commented on the ambient light sensor issue affecting iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models repaired by non-Apple service providers, and there is also a separate but unrelated bug that appears to be impacting some iPhone 8 displays.

As discovered yesterday by Motherboard, some iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models that have had aftermarket display replacements are experiencing issues following the release of iOS 11.3, which appears to have disabled touch functionality in the repaired devices.

One repair shop told Motherboard that the issue has caused "over 2,000 reshipments." "Customers are annoyed and it seems like Apple is doing this to prevent customers from doing 3rd party repair," said the shop owner.

The iOS 11.3 bug seems to be related to a small microchip in the display, which disables touch functionality following the update. Repair shops have discovered a fix, but each affected iPhone must be re-opened so the chip can be upgraded, which is a hassle. Motherboard also learned that it's "an absolute nightmare" for unauthorized shops to repair iPhone X components, with the front camera and Face ID components unable to be repaired by aftermarket shops entirely.

For end users who don't want to hassle with non-functional iPhone components, Apple's message is clear: visit an Apple retail store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider to avoid serious issues. For devices out of warranty, authorized repairs can be prohibitively expensive, however, which leaves customers with limited options.

These reports of repair issues come as Apple works to fight "Right to Repair" legislation in multiple states, which would potentially require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to both product owners and independent repair shops.

Related Roundups: iPhone 8, iPhone X

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California to Introduce ‘Right to Repair’ Bill Requiring Smartphone Manufacturers to Offer Repair Info and Parts

California is preparing to join several other states with a new Right to Repair bill, which will require smartphone manufacturers to provide repair information, replacement parts, and diagnostic tools to product owners and independent repair shops.

California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman this afternoon announced plans to introduce the new California Right to Repair Act. Eggman says the bill will provide consumers with the freedom to choose a repair shop of their choice.

iPhone X image via iFixit
"The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said.
Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste said smartphone manufacturers and home appliance makers are "profiting at the expense of our environment and our pocketbooks" while Kit Walsh, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the new bill is "critical to protect independent repair shops and a competitive market for repair," which will lead to "better service and lower prices."

In addition to California, 17 other states have already introduced similar Right to Repair legislation, including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Several states began introducing Right to Repair legislation early last year, and the Right to Repair movement has continued on since then, spurred by Apple's iPhone throttling controversy.

Since last year, Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair bills in various states, as have several other technology companies. In Nebraska, for example, Apple said approving Right to Repair would turn the state into a "mecca for bad actors" making it "easy for hackers to relocate to Nebraska." Other arguments from tech companies and appliance manufacturers have suggested Right to Repair bills would compromise device security and safety.

Right to Repair bills are heavily endorsed by repair outlets like iFixit, independent repair shops, and consumer advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In California specifically, the Right to Repair bill is particularly interesting because as Motherboard points out, there are strong repairability laws already in place. California Civil Code Section 1793.03 states that companies must offer parts for repair for at least seven years after a product is released, which is why on Apple's vintage and obsolete products list, it lists California as the sole state where consumers can continue to get repairs on vintage products.

Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device's warranty.

Apple's current flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, earned a repairability score of 6 from repair site iFixit. Repairs on the device require a special Apple-specific screw driver, delicate cables are often in the way and are difficult to replace, and Apple's waterproofing makes repairs complicated. Other Apple products, like MacBooks, have much lower repairability scores.


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Greenpeace Gives Apple a B- in ‘Guide to Greener Electronics’

Greenpeace today published its Guide to Greener Electronics, which provides insight into the environmental practices of 17 major companies including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, and more.

Among all of the companies Greenpeace evaluated for energy, resource consumption, and chemicals, Apple received the second best marks, trailing behind only Fairphone, a device designed with minimal environmental impact in mind.


Apple was lauded for its commitment to renewable energy and reducing supply chain emissions and its efforts to be transparent about the chemicals that are used in its products.

According to Greenpeace, Apple is the only company to have set a renewable energy goal for its supply chain, and several of its suppliers have already committed to using 100 percent renewable energy.

Apple is also committed to renewable energy at its own facilities and is ultimately aiming for a closed-loop supply chain. As for chemicals, Apple is one of two companies (along with Google) that have eliminated all brominated flame retardants and polyvinyl chloride.

Apple's overall Greenpeace "grade" was a B-, but broken down, the company received an A- for the aforementioned environmental efforts, a B for chemicals, and a C for resources, due in large part to the lack of repairability of its devices and its use of proprietary parts.

Apple continues to design products with proprietary parts to limit access and actively lobbies against right to repair legislation in New York and Nebraska.

It is reported that Apple and Sony have blocked attempts to strengthen environmental electronics standards that would encourage device designs that are easier to repair, upgrade, and disassemble for recycling.
Greenpeace has previously targeted Apple in a repairability campaign to combat planned obsolescence, accusing Apple's difficult-to-repair devices of shortening device lifespan and leading to more electronic waste. Apple is not likely to make changes to the way its devices are manufactured to make them easier for third-parties to repair, but its efforts towards a closed-loop supply chain could eventually result in far less waste.

Earlier this year, in Greenpeace's annual green report, Apple was ranked the most environmentally friendly technology company in the world. That report focused on factors like energy transparency, energy efficiency, renewable energy commitment, and advocacy.

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