Every year, Apple rolls out a new iPhone, promising a smarter, faster phone. And around that time, you probably start to think your iPhone is feeling awfully slow. Wouldn’t a new iPhone be great? Conspiracy theories have circulated for years that Apple intentionally slows your iPhone down so you’ll rush out to buy the latest model. And new evidence suggests that Apple actually does slow down older iPhones — but not to get you to buy a new one.
The trouble lies in your iPhone’s battery. Lithium-ion batteries, which power most of the gadgets you own, degrade over time. As your phone gets older, the battery just doesn’t have the power it used to — which can be a problem when the phone has to perform processor-intensive tasks. When their batteries get too weak, iPhones can shut themselves off when pushed to perform.
Apple fixed the issue by intentionally slowing down an iPhone’s processor speed if its battery wasn’t up to the task. This meant these phones wouldn’t turn themselves off when the processor tried to draw more power than the battery could handle — but it also meant the phones just weren’t as fast as they used to be. And, coincidentally, that may have made you want to run to buy a new iPhone when all you needed was a new battery.
How can I tell if my iPhone’s battery is bad?
Sluggish phone performance and low battery life can be a sign that your iPhone’s battery is dying. There’s an easy way to check right from your phone, though you have to dig through a few menus to do it. On iOS 10.2.1 and higher, go to Settings > Battery. If there’s a problem, you’ll see a message at the top of the page that says “Your iPhone battery may need to be serviced.”
But not seeing that message doesn’t necessarily mean that a lousy battery isn’t causing you problems. You can try the Battery Life app (free, with advertisements), which will let you know how healthy your battery is. You can also go directly to Apple to have your phone tested by the pros: just contact support by chat, phone or in person at a retail store.
What can I do about it?
If your iPhone battery holds less than 80% of the power it originally held, it’s definitely having an impact on your phone’s performance. So what can you do about it? Unfortunately, the iPhone’s battery isn’t designed to be user-replaceable, so you’ll want to consult a professional.
While a quick web search will offer DIY solutions and plenty of retailers who will be happy to fix your iPhone woes, it’s best to stick to Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. That assures you’re getting Apple-quality work — and that you aren’t voiding your iPhone’s warranty, which will cause problems if you need help from Apple support later.
You can get in touch by web chat, phone, or in person at a Genius Bar if you’re near an Apple Store. On Apple’s support page, select iPhone, search for “battery” and select an option — it doesn’t really matter what you choose, but you have to list a problem before Apple will give you contact options. From here, you can:
- Contact Apple by chat, which is usually the quickest way to get in touch. They’ll likely run a remote test on your battery and give you options for repair.
- Talk to Apple on the phone. You can either call and wait on hold or schedule a call at a convenient time. As with chat, they’ll probably run a remote test on your battery and give you options for repair.
- Schedule an appointment with Apple Authorized Service Provider or Genius Bar so you can talk to someone in person. Again, they’ll test your battery and give you repair options.
- Send your phone Apple for repair. While you can simply send your phone in, we recommend talking to Apple Support first to make sure it’s a battery problem.
Regardless of which option you choose, expect it to take some time to replace your battery. Apple will usually ship your phone to a repair center for the replacement, and it can take up to 5 business days to have the battery repaired.
What will it cost to replace my iPhone battery?
The good news is that replacing your battery will cost much less than buying a brand new phone, and should make your iPhone perform just like new. Here’s what you can expect to pay:
- If you have an iPhone 6s, you may qualify for a free replacement if you’re having shutdown issues. Give Apple your iPhone serial number (find it under Settings > General > About) to see if you’re eligible, then contact support for repair options.
- If you’re covered by AppleCare+, your battery replacement will be free. Check your AppleCare coverage by entering your serial number (under Settings > General > About) to see if you qualify.
- Otherwise, you’ll pay $79 plus a $6.95 shipping fee.
So if your iPhone isn’t performing as well as it did when it was new, check the battery. It could give your phone a brand new life — and save you the cash you’d pay for a new phone.