Apple tries to prevent third-party replacements by locking iPhone batteries

Apple has reportedly introduced a software feature that causes a warning message to pop up if an owner replaces the battery on an iPhone XS, XS Max or XR. The aim is clearly to deter phone owners from installing batteries that were not supplied by an official Apple repair service. The feature basically locks down the device’s battery and the system then refuses to display battery health data. A notice is also displayed that it needs a “Service”.

This message will persist even if you replace your current iPhone battery with a genuine Apple one that wasn’t bought from an Apple Store or authorised reseller. According to renowned repair expert Justin from The Art of Repair YouTube channel, the message pops up in the latest iOS 12 version and also the iOS 13 beta.

How does this work? Your original iPhone battery has a Texas Instruments micro-controller attached to it that has the capability to serve as an SHA-1/HMAC authentication device. This means that the battery comes with an authentication code that is locked to that specific device, and it can only be replaced by Apple or one of its authorised resellers.

Simply replacing your old phone battery with an authentic Apple one will not work since the authentication key linked to that battery is not the same as the one that the phone expects to detect. iFixit, however, has a possible solution: carefully remove the original battery’s microcontroller and solder it to the replacement one. Then pray that it works.

The whole thing seems to be an attempt to drive more people towards Apple Stores or authorised resellers – and to basically force those people who live too far from such a facility to simply buy a new iPhone instead of going to so much trouble to replace a phone battery.

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