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iFixit: Apple Has Activated “Dormant Software Lock” on Its Latest iPhones to Discourage Unauthorized Battery Replacements

iFixit: Apple Has Activated “Dormant Software Lock” on Its Latest iPhones to Discourage Unauthorized Battery Replacements

Device teardown firm and “right to repair” advocate iFixit says Apple has activated a “dormant software lock” on its 2018 iPhone lineup to discourage unauthorized third-party battery replacements.

iFixit says any iPhone XR, iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max that has a battery replacement performed by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized service provider will display a message that says the battery needs servicing.

iFixit says it has tested the issue and has seen the message. They say they first saw the issue in a “damning video from Justin at The Art of Repair,” and they they were able to replicate it on an iPhone XS running both iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta.

If you replace the battery in the newest iPhones, a message indicating you need to service your battery appears in Settings > Battery, next to Battery Health. The “Service” message is normally an indication that the battery is degraded and needs to be replaced. The message still shows up when you put in a brand new battery, however. Here’s the bigger problem: our lab tests confirmed that even when you swap in a genuine Apple battery, the phone will still display the “Service” message. 

The message reads, “Important Battery Message: Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery. Health information not available for this battery.”

iFixit: Apple Has Activated "Dormant Software Lock" on Its Latest iPhones to Discourage Unauthorized Battery Replacements
Images courtesy of iFixit.

It should be noted that Apple service documents do note that Battery Health info is unavailable for any iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR that has a non-genuine battery and is running iOS 12.1 or later. (Via MacRumors)

Although the message doesn’t appear to affect the actual operation of the battery, bit it does make it tough to detect when a third-party replacement battery requires replacement.

YouTube channel The Art of Repair says the source of the warning message is a Texas Instruments microcontroller installed on the battery itself, which is used to authenticate the battery is an official Apple part, providing the iPhone with battery capacity and temperature information.

The message appears to be designed to discourage third-party battery replacements by either the user or by an unauthorized service center. Apple and authorized service providers likely use Apple’s RepairCal diagnostics software to reset the “Service” status when a battery replacement is performed.

For Apple part, it will likely argue that they do this out of concern of proper replacement of swollen or damaged batteries.

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