How to replace your iPhone’s battery

After the throttling scandal of 2017, many Apple users became interested in subverting the slow-down. While you can turn off performance throttling — which purposefully slows down devices with aging batteries — it’s far more effective to replace your iPhone’s battery. Getting a professional battery replacement is the simplest choice, but you might want to save money and upgrade it yourself, if you’re feeling confident.

This guide will walk you through the process of getting your new battery, either through Apple or on your own. We’ll also help you better understand how phone batteries work and how throttling affects your phone’s performance.

How batteries work

Before you make any decisions, you should understand what happens to your iPhone battery over time. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, the type the iPhone uses, are considered consumables because they are known to degrade over time. It’s not a quality issue, it’s just the way they operate. Battery age is measured in battery cycles: One cycle equals draining the battery to 0% and completely recharging the battery to 100% one single time. This can take any amount of time since you will not drain your battery to 0% and back up to 100% every single day. It may take a day, two days, or more to complete a battery cycle.

The iPhone packs an estimated 500 battery cycles before it starts to degrade, meaning if you own your phone for two or more years, you will have charged enough battery cycles to degrade the battery to just 80% of its full capacity. When the amount of charge the battery can hold diminishes, you’ll find your battery drains faster and must be recharged more often.

Battery age is not only dependent on time, but also on how you use your phone and the effect your use has on battery lifespan. As batteries degrade, it is reflected in your phone’s performance and the ability of the phone to access enough juice to do the things you want. With iOS 11 or later, you can check the general life of your battery under Settings > Battery > Battery Health > Maximum Capacity. You can also check charge levels for the last couple of days and even the percentage of time you spend on each app on your phone. This will help you decide whether or not to invest in a new battery.

Controversial throttling

In December of 2017, Apple shocked its iPhone customers by confirming that it deliberately slows down iPhones after the batteries reach a certain age. That’s because older batteries can cause some iPhones to unexpectedly shut down, and throttling allows the phone to more efficiently process the power output from these older batteries. It made sense, but customers were not pleased — partly because they didn’t understand why their phone’s performance, which many had tolerated for a long time, was so poor, and partly because Apple’s perceived secrecy on the subject seemed deceptive.

After Apple came clean on the matter, it sought to repair its relationship with iPhone owners by offering replacement batteries at a deep discount of $30 for the better part of a year for qualifying phones — ones that had lost a significant amount of capacity over time. This battery replacement program served iPhone owners until the end of 2018. After that, battery replacements went back up to their regular price for everyone.

Even though that discount program has ended, you can still choose to replace your iPhone’s battery, which should improve the device’s performance and may save you from having to buy a brand new iPhone. Here are some ways to get your hands on a new battery.

Replacing the battery via Apple

Trevor Mogg / DT

The most convenient and reliable way to replace your iPhone’s battery is to do it straight through Apple. Simply swap out your old battery for a brand new one. For iPhone X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, and 11 the cost is $69 for an out-of-warranty model not covered by AppleCare+. For an iPhone SE, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus, and all other eligible models, the out-of-warranty price is $49. Phones still under warranty or covered by AppleCare+ get free battery replacements. We recommend going the Apple route, as you won’t void your device’s warranty or risk damaging your iPhone by replacing the battery any other way. This also ensures that you receive a true Apple battery and not an after-market alternative.

If you purchased an iPhone 6S between September and October 2015 and your iPhone is randomly shutting down, you may be eligible for a free battery replacement. Apple has a tool to help you figure out if your phone is eligible. To get the battery replacement, your phone should have no water damage or screen cracks. You can chat with an Apple tech online if you have more questions.

Another easy way to start the process is to head to the nearest Apple Store, which could either take one visit or a few days. Best Buy is now also an authorized Apple repair provider, so if there are no Apple Stores nearby, Best Buy is a good option. With the addition of Best Buy, eight out of 10 Apple customers live within 20 minutes of an Apple-authorized service provider. If you’re in a more remote area where there are no authorized repair centers, you can always ship your iPhone to Apple for the battery swap, but the process will take quite a bit longer, as you’ll need to wait for Apple to send you a box to ship your iPhone in, send it, have Apple replace the battery, then ship it back to you.

Tip: You can make an appointment at your local Apple Store ahead of time through the Apple Store app on your iPhone or iPad, as well as on the Genius Bar website.

Replacing the battery yourself

It is possible to replace the iPhone battery yourself, but it’s not for the faint of heart. That’s largely because iPhone devices use a lot of glue and other materials you’ll have to navigate your way through, and it can be tricky, with many sequential steps that can be time-consuming. Doing it yourself will also affect the integrity of the waterproof capabilities that Apple added starting with the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

You can follow in-depth instructions from websites like iFixit, which also sells kits with the tools needed to replace your iPhone’s battery. Most of these kits cost around $35, somewhat less expensive than letting Apple do it, but then you’re doing all the work, the job is not guaranteed, and if something goes wrong you’re on your own. Guides from iFixit are available for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. You shouldn’t really need to replace the batteries on the iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or newer iPhone batteries any time soon.

Getting your battery replaced at a third-party repair shop

If you or someone you know has ever cracked an iPhone screen and gotten it fixed at one of these shops then you should be somewhat familiar with the pros and cons. While the prices at repair establishments almost always beat those at Apple, you’ll be at the mercy of the independent store warranty and the proprietor’s willingness to honor it. A battery replacement at a repair shop will likely run cheaper than an out of warranty Apple service, as the shops are motivated to earn your business. However, you won’t have any guarantees on the origin of your new battery and the quality of the work varies from shop to shop.

Bottom line

Unless you have a really old iPhone, a non-defective battery should have plenty of life left in it. If you’re using iOS 11 or newer, you can see exactly how healthy your battery is and take appropriate action to mitigate any problems. If you find you need to replace your battery, Apple provides reasonably priced options that make it convenient for you to salvage your device regardless of age. Those with capable hands may want to try a third-party kit and save a few bucks, and a third party repair shop might save you some money without the hassle of trying the repair yourself, but for the rest of us, Apple or Best Buy pros are ready to assist you at a reasonable price and while maintaining your warranty. Whether you decide to replace your iPhone battery or not, you should read our tips on how to save smartphone battery life.

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