Apple’s Latest ‘Innovation’ Is Turning Planned Obsolescence Into Planned Failure

January 20, 2011 Hardware, Site News — Kyle

We’re accustomed to planned obsolescence. New models come out every year—faster, shinier and just plain better. But before the iPhone, cell phones without user-replaceable batteries were almost unheard of. Apple realized that they could sell more phones if they built the phone with an integrated battery, prompting users to upgrade once the battery wore down. A phone isn’t very useful once you can’t take it away from the charger for more than an hour—which is guaranteed to happen with every iPhone. We’ve written extensively about Lithium-Ion batteries in the past—they’re wonderful technology, but they have a finite life of 300 to 500 cycles. If you’re like me and use up your battery completely every day, it’ll only last a year or so. (When I travel, I have to charge my phone at least twice a day.) Once the battery is worn down, it needs to be replaced—just like the light bulb in your refrigerator or the air filter in your car. Until the iPhone, all consumer product designs included a way to replace consumables. Apple’s consumer-hostile approach has turned product design on its head.

Charges are cumulative, and you do not have to completely discharge the battery every cycle.

Imagine if rather than shipping inkjet printers with replaceable ink cartridges, HP forced you to buy a new printer every 400 pages. Or if Ford told you to buy a new car after 40,000 miles rather than replacing the brake pads! We would never tolerate such wasteful engineering—and yet somehow Apple has suckered us all into an involuntary annual upgrade cycle.

Apple defends themselves by claiming that you can always pay them to replace the battery. That’s true—it’s $85.95, takes a week, and Apple will erase your phone’s memory during the procedure. That’s the only way. There are no other officially sanctioned options—Apple refuses to authorize any independent iPhone battery replacement centers. Their onerous replacement procedure is intentionally expensive, because they don’t want you to replace the battery. Apple wants you to buy a new phone—but if you insist on doubling its lifespan by replacing your battery, they want to make some money in the process. Never mind that iPhone batteries retail for just $20, and cost Apple far less than that.

Exploded view of the iPhone 4, battery highlighted in red

Users have two options: buy a new phone every year or so, or pay Apple $85.95 every year or so. Apple wins either way. They’re not selling us phones—they’re leasing them to us!

This isn’t just planned obsolescence—this is planned failure. Apple is making billions by selling us hardware with a built-in death clock. It is designed to fail after 400 cycles, conveniently coordinated with their annual hardware release cycle. Dead, hard to replace battery every year. New iPhone every year.

The current iPod Shuffle is the worst example of this. Replacing the battery is almost impossible—in our teardown last fall, the new Shuffle earned the worst repairability score we’ve ever given . This is the first product Apple has ever shipped where their price for battery replacement ($49 + $6.95 shipping) is higher than the retail price of the product ($49, free shipping)! Apple has clearly given up on replacing batteries and is just shipping people a replacement. The Shuffle’s intended design life is exactly the same as its battery, with no hope for extending it.

While the environmental and human consequences of this business strategy are dire, the financial impact is also substantial. This policy helped Apple make six billion dollars in just the last three months.

Replacing iPhone batteries for fun, profit, and to stick it to the man

Fortunately, there’s a way to opt out of the annual hardware replacement cycle: replace your own battery. We’ve put everything in one place to make it as easy as possible—we have step-by-step replacement guides (original, 3G, 3GS, 4), tools, and batteries. Replacing your own battery saves you money, keeps expensive hardware from going to the landfill prematurely, and sends a message to manufacturers that you will not tolerate design for failure.

Apple sees self-replacement as a threat, and they are working on making it harder to open your own phone. That’s a battle that the iFixit community is prepared to fight.

67 Comments

  1. Not to toot my own horn, but when the was soon debut in 2007, starting in January 2007, I posted all over the Net that Apple was guilty of planned obsolescence. I specifically went on the rampage when hearing that the iPhone’s battery would be user non-removable.

    That was a crime as far as I was concerned, to produce a cell phone where in an emergency, for example, the battery could not be swapped.

    I also dissed the iPhone because it was the only phone without a microSD slot, obviously Apple’s “con” to force people to buy a new phone. Specifically, if one wanted more storage he or she could buy the current iPhone that has increased capacity.

    The only thing that makes me wonder about all this is that Apple has its fans who could care less that the battery is non-removable or that there’s no microSD slot. I can’t believe people would pay more money than others, for a device that’s more limited than, for example, my Samsung Vibrant, HTC HD2, or MyTouch Slide.

    Comment by ItsMichaelNotMike — January 20, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

  2. Good job guys. Keep on going. Check this TV program from the Catalan TV http://blogs.tv3.cat/senseficcio.php?itemid=36638
    Amazing

    Comment by Pau — January 20, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

  3. I have a clipboard capture program that automatically keeps a record of any text I copy or cut into Microsoft Clipboard (a program called “Note Frog).

    Here is what I said somewhere on the Net about 12 months ago. Guess my tune has not changed:

    “The title of this article is incorrect. Mistake means that someone blunders, misunderstands or acts without intention. Apple’s iPhone design elements and engineering are NOT mistakes; the Company practices planned obsolescence and institutes controls to assure preservation of income streams, both on this iPhone and other devices (iPod).

    I assume that no one believes that it would be difficult to include a USB port, microSD slot and removable battery. Come on. Those components are dirt cheap nowadays.

    What gets me is that Apple keeps introducing this kind of limited crap and people still buy the stuff (granted, it’s only fanboys who do).

    The absurdity of the iPhone’s design is evident by one simple fact. If anyone but Apple brought this POS to market, the critics, blogs and forums would have asked what the Company and designers were smoking when they came up with a phone that lacks the most basic functionality.

    But Apple puts making money and protecting its interests above the needs and desires of consumers. Hence, coming out with a limited devices (many Aconcepts outdated or copied. For example, in 2002-03 Samsung had the i330 touchscreen only Palm-Based PDA phone. Audiovox/Toshiba had the SP1032 touchscreen Windows CE PDA phone in 2003).

    Even dirt cheap smartphones have storage slots and removable batteries. That Apple chose to leave these things off the iPhone rings the bell loud and clear and warns the public about Apple’s unfair and deceptive business practices.”

    Comment by ItsMichaelNotMike — January 20, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  4. http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/#983391

    Comment by SIE — January 20, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  5. This is nothing new to Apple they have been this way since day one. If you have ever purchased any Apple computer you could never replace the memory with out somehow voiding the warranty until the new power macs, but even then if you did that you risked shorting a component on the system board according to sales reps that would sell you the service for a fee…

    I worked at an Apple only retailer for about a year and that was the policy and even the customers were so compliant that they would ask to have the service dept install the ram after purchase…

    So this idea that the consumer should have a replaceable part in the life of the product, is in my considered opinion, one of the reasons that Apple does not have a greater market share in the Personal Computer world.

    Comment by Mark — January 20, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

  6. What Apple fails to grasp is that no one is forced to use their products. Instead people will tend to stay away in droves, preferring to buy devices with replaceable batteries. That’ll show them!

    Comment by Ex2bot — January 20, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  7. Let’s try a bit of balance here. What percent of iPhones actually stay in service until the battery fails? If the majority are replaced with the next generation, or even by some other phone, before the battery would ever fail, the it seems to me that the current design is MORE green than a design with a replaceable battery.

    After all, having a replaceable battery would require more parts, more weight, etc. If most of the time those excess parts and excess weight would not be used anyway then they would be pure waste.

    Is anyone looking at how much waste is included in Android, Blackberry, and Windows 7 phones?

    Comment by TechStock2000 — January 20, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  8. Mark, that hasn’t been true since I don’t know when. I know Apple didn’t want the original Macs opened, but that that was 25 years ago. And the reason they don’t have a bigger market share is that Macs are pricy. But good.

    Did you know you can damage *any* computer with static electricity while working inside it if you’re not careful.

    Keepin em honest since way back then,

    Applejohn

    Comment by Applejohn — January 20, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  9. Slow day on the internet. I own a iPhone 4 and my wife uses a 3GS. I purchased the 3GS in 2009 right it came out. It has been used everyday since. the Battery works fine. I’ve owned my 4G since July 2010 and it’s battery is fine. This site is rehashing an old story. Move on or work for MoveOn.org. I’ll you and Barry figure out why things don’t. Maybe by 2012 both of my phones batteries will need to replace, just like Barry.

    Comment by hiscross — January 20, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

  10. WRONG!

    1) Apple doesn’t design or make batteries or battery technology. Apple just puts in the best battery they can and do things like ban Flash and give you fine control to turn off features so you can save battery. Whine to the battery makers if you don’t like battery performance or lifespan.

    2) If you are needing to charge your iPhone once or twice a day you either don’t know how to use your iPhone or it is broken and you need to get a warranty repair.

    Get a grip.

    Comment by ronin44 — January 20, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

  11. Been like this for quite a while (original iPod). People are being duped into nothing. Buy something else if you need an easy-to-change battery.

    Comment by Old gripe get a life — January 20, 2011 @ 5:09 pm

  12. In my honest opinion apple is being wasteful, there coming out with more and supposedly ” better ” products, when all it has is a Camera, ( New Touch ) apple in my eyes just makes flashy overly priced products, that will only last you a couple of years, the laptops for instance are so over priced its not funny, why in the world do people pay for a Os that to me makes no sense, yes it was the basis for Windows based computers and thats just my Opinion, i like the products, but i just stick to the ipod classic and touch, i have a nano but the battery will not hold a charge, so its going to be recycled or fixed, but the case is so bent and worn out i’m afraid of damaging the bored, I’ve fixed my classic so take that Apple, my Touch….i pray to god it never breaks but i know where to get the tools and knowledge right here at ifixit, you guys help saved an old dear friend, so far the battery’s are just fine ( knock on wood )

    Comment by Larry — January 20, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  13. boy what a troll. First you say Apple gives you no choice about changing the battery and then you point out you can change it yourself. If it is under warranty, there is no charge. If it’s out of warranty, you can change it yourself- $20, or Apple will charge you a MASSIVE $85 or so to do it for you. Boy, I hope you haven’t had a mechanic work on your car- you’ll have a heart attack when you see the labour bill. News for you – a lot of us weighed the pros and cons of the iPhone carefully, including features such as battery ( which lasts about 40% longer than other brands….) – and made an educated decision. We are not “sheeple” who blindly buy anything that Apple makes. Amazing – according to you, Apples sales figures are just driven by the stupid and the wannabecools. Of course, you ignore the facts ( check Wired, Fortune, etc) that Apple/Mac users statistically are better educated, higher income, etc. If you can’t afford the Honda, and only can afford the Kia, thats fine. But don’t tell me they are the same or that the Honda is overpriced. Might want to check the gas milage, and the final profit/loss/Cost of ownership of the Honda….

    Comment by Philip Day — January 20, 2011 @ 6:09 pm

  14. I think its great that iFixit provides how to guides for replacing batteries. That said, I don’t understand the whiney tone of this post. People who buy an iPhone clearly understand the battery isn’t user replaceable. My wife is still using the original iPhone that I bought in 2007 with the original battery. It may surprise you to know that she manages just fine all day with it. Further, if people really need longer battery life, there are many phone cases with built in battery power, etc. to choose from. Really, it’s not a big deal.

    Comment by Steve — January 20, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  15. This is a mistake by Apple. If I buy a new phone or iPad I can then pass on my old one to my daughter or someone else — Apple gets a new user at no extra cost to acquire a new customer/user.

    Comment by Tom Foremski — January 20, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

  16. Patently false information is being presented again. After 400 cycles, an iphone battery should have up to 80% of its capacity, meaning 7 h or 3g would now be 5.5 h. Hardly sounds like failure. Instead, it seems to be another attempt to get traffic directed your way. In addition, your allegedly hard to get screwdriver is less than $3 on ebay. Please return back to your days of providing information and parts, not hype.

    Comment by George — January 20, 2011 @ 7:32 pm

  17. I’m not sure what the issue is here. I knew from day 1 where I stood with Apple on the battery issue. As for whether or not this contributes to more e-waste, im not sure. Most iPhone users I know seem to be upgrading on 2 year cycles. Most Android users I know seem to upgrade hardware more frequently, likely because new phones are always being released by several manufacturers. I do wonder where all their old phones go…..

    Comment by Chris — January 20, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  18. The iHate is sure showing up here,

    Since when do you need a spare battery for the phone even if you have one how often do you need to use it. Or how often do you carry a spare around and by the time you need to use it its power is already lost. It it money wasted

    Face it by the time you need to change the the battery it is time for a new phone.

    As for the memory, buy a higher capacity one if you can afford it and now many of the copy cats have more built in memory than the iPhone.

    Surprise you didn’t plug your company’s services for changing battery in the iPhone and time to stop biting the hands that feed you or you will end up with crumbs.

    Comment by AdamC — January 21, 2011 @ 12:59 am

  19. George: Doesn’t mean their point isn’t correct.

    Comment by Yuhong Bao — January 21, 2011 @ 1:18 am

  20. Bought my original 2G iPhone the first week it was introduced. Still works! Original battery and all!

    Comment by Robert — January 21, 2011 @ 3:55 am

  21. for the “Not to toot my own horn” guy, what is particularly funny about prejudice, is you can tell if it is purely stupid or not pretty easily… what you do is look at the opposite view from 1 or 2 or 5 or 10 years (what ever time frame they are referring to), in your case 4 years, and do a “what if i invested all my money in this opposite view”, and if the net result is that you could have retired on an island, AND BOUGHT THAT ISLAND, then the person’s prejudice is just really moronic. but what ever floats their boat i guess… we have to have poor stupid people in the world too. but hey you can at least change your battery????

    by the way my 2G iPod touch still works fine… ON MY ISLAND…… no need for phones here…

    Comment by honkj — January 21, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  22. This post is nothing more than attack marketing. Big bad Apple! They’ve deprived us of a badly needed user replaceable battery. iPhones are dying left and right! Not to worry, iFixit has the solution to this bowel-shaking problem!

    My perspective: I’ve had iPhones since July 2007. Never had a single battery related issue. My iPhone 3GS battery is 18 months old and has seen a full recharge cycle every single day. Usage time is the same as when I bought it. No noticeable degradation in battery performance.

    This is a bulls**t non-issue and it makes you look bad iFixit!

    Comment by pjs_boston — January 21, 2011 @ 7:00 am

  23. ——–”The absurdity of the iPhone’s design is evident by one simple fact”————

    prejudice like this is a “hopefully” once in a life time blunder, i hope you enjoy it as much as we are watching it… by the Way, Apple still has difficulty building the iPhones fast enough FOR NEW USERS…

    I applaud iFix it for making manuals on repairing Apple products, they are usually wonderful, what is even more impressive is that broken Apple products usually sell for MORE than new products from other companies…… amazon.com has dozens and dozens… and dozens of brand new Android phones for sale for 1 cent… gee… why is that……

    you don’t get that situation because of “absurdity” in design for the iPhone… yes, your iPhone will wear out…. Apple didn’t do it to make you as a customer unhappy, they did it to make the iphone lighter and thinner with MORE BATTERY LIFE THAN OTHER phones, and a joy to use… if it breaks before your warranty period, go get a new one for free… it after, sell it for an ungodly amount on ebay and get a new one for half price with more new features….. and enjoy it again… but obviously i am speaking to the choir, because people already do this and are perfectly happy, witness the user satisfaction surveys which are higher than any other phone in history…..

    or if you feel empowered by doing it, fix it yourself… nothing wrong with that either… for those with iHate… lose it… and enjoy yourself… and make money for a change by doing the opposite of your prejudice…. instead of wallowing in your own stupidity….

    Comment by honkj — January 21, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  24. I think this article stretches the truth a bit, and stretches your credibility too. Please stick to just offering the parts and not make op-ed pieces based on exaggerations and hyperbole. You’re a parts supplier, not a cable news organization or a tabloid for that matter.

    I’ve not personally known anyone that has ever needed to replace an iPhone (My 3G still holds a charge very well) or iPod battery (my 5 year old iPod still works), much less every year as the post suggests. And you still have 80% of battery at 400 charges, not 0%. So with a full charge every three days, it will be over 3 years before my 4 will be at 80% of its original capacity.

    Comment by JD — January 21, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  25. There are many people who complain about things that they truly have control over. Don’t like what’s on TV? Change the friggin channel. Don’t like Apple’s heavy handedness? Don’t buy their stuff.

    And for gosh sakes, quit complaining when a company legitimately tries to make money. That’s what they are supposed to do!

    Comment by Ken — January 21, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  26. Hey guys, it’s a lithium polymer battery. Li-poly batteries have a 1000 cycles lifespan like the MacBook and MacBook pro. It’s not that bad. It will last 3 years if you discharge completly your iPhone each day.

    Comment by Klemyz — January 21, 2011 @ 7:24 am

  27. Who in the world buys a top of the line smart phone and keeps it for more than a year? My pops might still be milking a flip phone, but I got the iPhone (and I assume Droid users are the same) to take advantage of the capabilities offered.

    Comment by TJ — January 21, 2011 @ 7:27 am

  28. For all the people whom consider the tone of this story as “whiny ” or the author is a “troll” consider that this is a blog. Bloggers for the most part are egocentric, poorly educated losers whom hide behind their keyboards and lash out at the unfair world. They are like 3 year olds throwing tantrums becaue they cannot get the candy bar in the store as mommy shops.

    Comment by Dirty Harry — January 21, 2011 @ 7:40 am

  29. Wow! Lots of iHaters and iLovers here.
    My opinion is that Apple, like every other company in the world, is focused on how to increase revenue. One of their decisions was to make the iPhone battery, while difficult to replace, smaller and lighter so that the phone is more attractive to consumers (which it most certainly seems to be).
    It may, or may not, be the best choice of ohones out there, but luckily we (consumers) have a choice to either buy the iPhone, of buy something else. Although I am not a big Apple consumer (no pun intended) and think Apple products are too pricey as well, I still have a choice to buy them or not.
    Some of the blame has to go on us, the consumers. Just my thoughts.

    Comment by Chuck — January 21, 2011 @ 7:44 am

  30. Apple designed the iPhone 4 with an easy way to replace the battery, but now puts specific screws so that only approved service providers could replace it. Do you find this planned obsolescence? if Apple supplies iPhone 4 replacement batteries to service providers they will replace them easily with the supplied tool. Other shops like iFixit or the corner’s phone shop will easily do the same by ordering your tool and installing “compatible” batteries. Do you name this planned obsolescence…?

    Comment by Robert Tripoux — January 21, 2011 @ 7:45 am

  31. First off, I’m an iFixit fanboy. Love your website and tools.

    But man, am I surprised to see you stooping to Apple Hater levels in order to create sales. Look; people moaned and groaned when Apple dropped the floppy drive on the first iMac too right? Turned out Apple was AHEAD of the game in predicting market forces. Same here! I upgrade my electronics yearly, it only makes sense. I get the maximum “trade-in” value on eBay or Gazelle AND stay totally current. People who think a phone (or desktop or laptop) should last many, many years are neanderthals!! Get with it people we passed over into the new millennium 11 years ago.

    [And as far as all the "green" stuff? That is just a red herring, do you remember your first cell phone? NOW THAT WAS EARTH UN-FRIENDLY!]

    Comment by stevem — January 21, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  32. Thanks for giving us Mac and iPhone addicts viable options! Apple’s culture of user friendliness has degraded over the years. Now, while most Apple products are still user friendly, customer satisfaction and service seems to be last on their list. Your diligence is greatly appreciated!

    Comment by ellen n cornell — January 21, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  33. I’m glad iFixit has an iPhone repair kit, but the hype for it is false advertising.

    My iPhone 3G is 2.5 years old. In a day’s use it is often well down on the battery meter, so it has had way over 400 full charge cycles. It still lasts pretty well unless I play a lot of games; 80% seems about right. If I replace it, it will be for new features not because of battery failure.

    My previous Samsung phone had a replaceable battery, but I never bought a spare. After three years that battery was no longer lasting a full day, so I tried to buy a new one. NOBODY sold them, not Samsung nor any of the sources I could discover on the internet. Apple’s battery replacement price is high, but at least the option is there, and I can do it cheaper with help from iFixit. Who’s greener?

    Compare current and previous Macbook Pro weight, size, and battery life. An easily replaced battery has costs.

    A microSD slot is another matter entirely. It would cost very little in connectors or space, but it would eliminate Apple’s ability to sell us models with more built-in flash memory at inflated prices, and reduce our incentive for getting a new model with more storage. So we are unlikely ever to see one in an iPhone or iPad.

    Comment by Al Quirt — January 21, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  34. This is incredibly whiny. It’s not like Apple was secretive about this from day one. Anybody who bothered to read anything about the iPhone before they bought it knew it was a sealed unit. Period.

    Guess what, so is my car’s odometer. I can’t crack it open, easily or legally. Sure, I’d love to. But I knew going into buying both my phone and my car, these were just things I couldn’t do. GET OVER IT and go elsewhere for a phone. You obviously don’t like the iPhone as it is and well, it’s not for you. Your trolling headline is just link bait.

    Comment by BayouMan — January 21, 2011 @ 8:08 am

  35. So it costs about $60 more to have Apple replace your battery than to do it yourself. Yeah it’s a bummer. About the same cost as one month of voice & data from AT&T. I don’t like having to spend $60 to fill my minivan’s gas tank either but it’s part of the cost of running a vehicle.

    Comment by Kevin — January 21, 2011 @ 8:46 am

  36. Whoooooooooo my gosh don’t upset Apple fans.
    Somewhere during our 8 years with George Bush, people started chanting “don’t blame … (whomever)”. Fortunately we are all responsible for what we do, even tho some of us pretend not to be and some of us pretend others aren’t responsible for their actions.
    All these posters receive from iFixIt, yes? iFixIt is expressing an opinion. If manufacturers didn’t make it hard so hard to repair their merchandise then these posters wouldn’t be here at iFixIt.
    I came to iFixIt about 4 years ago when I couldn’t figure out how to change the harddrive on my Clamshell. I still laugh about the absurdity of putting a harddrive at the bottom of the guts of a computer who’s software and technologies are excellent for “do-it-yourselfers”. It’s funny! Well, no one’s perfect, and I found iFixIt so I still buy Macs :) !
    It’s great to read your article, iFixIt, and be forewarned about iPhone and newer computers I haven’t bought yet, Thanks Again :) !
    Articles like yours help keep companies like Apple on the straight and wide highway of Honest Sharing :) !
    -Irene B.

    Comment by Irene Baldwin — January 21, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  37. You know, the batteries are lasting much better then you are making them out to be. I got my iPhone as payment for a job about a year ago w/ a almost dead (Not completely, but only held about 2hr charge.) battery. IT WAS 2.5 years old. A LAUNCH iPhone mind you – bought the weekend of launch. Charged everyday, and used extensibility as a business phone. But it was useless for her, and she became eligible for a 3GS….which would have happened either way. On top of that, no normal consumer is going to want a phone (Or anything sadly) thats 3+ years old. See the problem?

    However, if you want something disturbing about a manufacturer, buy a Acer Aspire One and use it for 8 months…

    At any rate, the battery replacement is trivial….I mean it takes some technical knowledge and a soldering iron, but isn’t terrible by any stretch. And from the looks of the pictures, the 4G is even easier to replace, as its battery is on top and plugs in right in – no solder. So now whats greener?

    This is not something I would expect to read on my favorite parts website. As others have stated…iFixit is not cable news or a tabloid, but a parts website. Lets keep it that way.

    Comment by Tyler S. — January 21, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  38. I had the privilege of having dinner with Apple’s senior battery designer earlier last year. Upon discussing their battery strategy, he stated that their reason for choosing to not have user replaceable batteries in their products is simple. Battery life is determined by the physical space made available for the battery chemistry, thus by eliminating the housing, wiring, access clips, etc., necessary to achieve a user-replaceable battery, Apple can garner more volume for the battery itself, and thus can achieve longer battery life from its products. More importantly, the usefulness of the product outlives the life of the battery for the vast majority of its users. While there are exceptions, users’ complaints about the lack of a user-replaceable battery, for the majority of users is largely much ado about nothing.

    Comment by Jason — January 21, 2011 @ 9:38 am

  39. Here’s another thought to add to the pot after my earlier post:
    I live off-grid, with a modest power supply and smaller battery bank. There are no grid electric or phone lines in my neighborhood, wonderful NM high plains, and my cell phones are modems for my laptops as well as for all my voice calls. I work online and individual appliance BATTERIES for my electronics are invaluable after 3 cloudy windless days. One of my favorite cell phone power safety back-ups is Extra Batteries. People who live on-grid but work off-grid in for extended time periods or under potentially hazardous conditions or avid camp extensively would have similar issues. There are many people besides me who value the independance of being able to change a flat or fead battery themselves. For daily convenience, neccessity, and emergency. A non-removable battery on a mobile device isn’t a trivial non-issue unless your iPhone is a fun convenience you don’t need. Thanks for writing and reading :) , -Irene.

    Comment by Irene Baldwin — January 21, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  40. Jason, you got that statement backwards about usefulness outlasting battery life, didn’t you? it doesn’t look accurate and runs counter to your overall point.

    as a general statement to no one in particular, I’d say it might be time to look with healthy, realistic skepticism at what iFixIt is telling us, since they too have a vested interest in selling us stuff, and apparently, just like every other company driven by their bottom line rather than by ideals, will tell us whatever they think will help them do so. it was nice when iFixIt appeared to be driven primarily by ideals, but most companies outgrow that stage pretty quickly and become drawn instead by the promise of greater monetary profit. that’s the nature of a capitalistic system. whether that’s a bad thing probably depends on whom you ask…and perhaps what mood they’re in when you ask them, considering that I myself usually advocate motivation by ideals over motivation by money, but am feeling less of that conviction than I often do as I write this. monetary profits definitely have their benefits too, which is why almost everybody pursues them. I guess the ideal scenario is to strike a balance between the two…and that that’s easier said than done.

    Comment by tiger — January 21, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  41. I’ve got umpteen different battery powered Apple products. NEVER needed a new battery yet. I do keep them recharged and don’t leave them around FLAT. But all in all, “WHERE”S THE BEEF”?

    Apple Works. ifixit is great informational stuff. I was born before B&W TV. It’s all amazing! Sit back and watch the river flow.

    What? Me Worry?…:) Life is shorter than you think. Ask Steve Jobs…

    Comment by A.G. Jenks — January 21, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  42. Lot’s of fan-boys and haters posting today! Look, I can replace the battery in any of Apple’s products with no problem, and if you can’t… well then you shouldn’t be trying to in the first place. Plus, if it was easy for everyone to work on their iPhone’s, many businesses like ours wouldn’t be as profitable.

    That being said, Apple does not make decisions with consumers in mind, rather they make decisions with profits in mind. Hello, that’s business. Most businesses at least try to make it seem as if they have the consumer in mind though. Apple doesn’t hide the fact they don’t care about us, and that is what chaps most peoples asses. And the genius of it? They are in total control of tech trends in our culture and will make sure that even if you aren’t pleased with their products, you’ll buy them, otherwise you just won’t be COOL. lol

    If you don’t have an iPhone and aren’t totally in love with it, you should just go back to into the Matrix…

    Comment by Jeff — January 21, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  43. yeah – i have been a long time Apple fan-boy – made a great career using their hardware/software. As of late they seem to be going full circle with their strategy…do they not remember pre-clone days in the 90′s – they soon will. Apple Pro apps dying. Pro hardware dying. Software becoming more targeted for granny and kids – more like 90′s Nintendo. haha!

    Comment by BadApple — January 21, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  44. Love em, hate em, or just don’t give a hoot, any way you look at it, Apple has made one serious pile of coin on their latest batch of toys. In today’s society, it seems that you are what you own or at least appear to own. Apple has become the ‘designer label’ for all toys electronic. Notice I said toys not equipment. How many corporations are running on Apple XServe Servers or C&C and robotics assembly using i-anythings? As of January 31,2011 Apple will no longer manufacture their XServe line. They are now a consumer-level supplier for electronic social plumage, and are in the same class as Armani, Gucci, and Prada. If your goal is to make a social statement that you are souper-kewl or have more money than you need, then by all means you should drop an i-something into the vest pocket of every one of your Louis Vuitton suits. If, however, you want value, compatibility, functionality, and longevity look for something other than Apple.

    Comment by Wildstar — January 21, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

  45. If you purchased the Apple extended warranty, any dead battery within 2 years will get you a nice new free iPhone/iPod/iPad whatever. It took me about 15 minutes to get mine replaced from a very crowded Apple store.

    Also if you need more battery life, you can buy a case with an external battery pack built in. That should last you another 2 years and given they cost about $50-$60 its cheaper than having the battery replaced or buying a new phone.

    But personally I feel 2 year old phone technology deserves an upgrade to whatever is coming out this summer. I just retire my older iPods/iPhones to other uses or give them to friends or relatives.

    Considering I have approx 45 antique Macs around my place dating back to 1986 and all of them still work (thanks to websites like yours) I find Apple products to have an endless lifecycle and are just aesthetically pleasing to have around, unlike the countless ugly but somewhat useful PCs Ive rescued from trash cans, repaired, used for a year and then deposited into new trash cans.

    My dad still has a few Edison wax cylinder players, its a good thing that their original owners didnt trash them when wax cylinders went out of fashion 100 years ago. Oh and they dont use electricity, how green is that?. Maybe Apple should start manufacturing hand cranks into their computers? A not at all far fetched idea.

    Comment by pb — January 23, 2011 @ 2:00 pm

  46. Many years ago during a Dewalt power tool sales seminar a presenter said up front, “we’re not in the business of selling tools, we’re in the business of selling batteries.” Whether it’s Black and Decker or Apple, the philosophy is to condition the consumer to take the product no matter the conditions.

    Comment by Lou — January 23, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  47. Planed failure has been around for a long time. It was built into cars & electronics until the Japaneese came along and gave us something better. So Apple’s planed failure is an opportunity for some new startup out there.

    Comment by Pat — January 23, 2011 @ 11:13 pm

  48. Planned obsolescence huh? so why don’t the cell phone contracts follow this plan? if a battery lasts a year and the cell phone contract is for 2 years, there seems to be a slight gap in proper marketability – i mean really – if they want us to buy a new phone every year, they better start lowering the cost to the cell carriers, or make it more worth the cell carriers while to sell us a new phone – me, i don’t like to tinker with my primary devices – especially since I use my phone for business – i did switch to an android phone on sprint simply because i couldn’t get service from AT&T. but the aforementioned SD card slot and user replaceable battery are definitely a plus in my book – however, Apple just “gets it” and sad to say, I’ll be switching back to an iphone on the Verizon network very shortly!

    Comment by C Z — January 24, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  49. Yeah, it’s too bad they work so hard to make products that last and then force them to become obsolete. What’s the point of making new stuff that’s so environmentally friendly and then forcing people to throw out perfectly good devices for them to make more sales. I like Apple products a lot and will continue to buy them, but on my own schedule.

    That being said, The Joy of Tech comic blog is making fun of all this noise.
    http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/1494.html

    Comment by Raschelle — January 24, 2011 @ 10:14 am

  50. Just don’t buy an iphone. Duh.

    Comment by brt — January 24, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  51. Apple’s free to tell me I have to replace an entire phone every year or two — as long as they can assure and certify that there’s no conflict-sourced coltan-derived tantalum used in their products. Man, creating an artifically high demand for such contentious metals that are linked to such dire suffering would be a serious dick move.

    Comment by HOJD — January 24, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  52. I actually own two iPhones and I can say honestly one thing that covers apple and other phone makers. If you give a phone to my wife – she IS going to drop it. How about testing out a few other substances for the screen surface before you choose glass? I mean – I’m pretty sure if we look long enough we can find SOMETHING that is clear. Her battery has outlasted her screen by 500% so far…

    Comment by Kevin — January 25, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  53. I’ve an original iPhone and used it every day solid for the past 4 years and not a single problem with the battery! Not even a drop in charge! Deadly peice of kit and the best one so far!

    Also I’ll fight for ifixit!! I fixed my Mac and PS3 and if I have to buy more and more tool’s each year to fix my own kit witch I’m well capable of fixing my self and can show up guys in the Genius Bar any day of the week!

    Comment by Paddy — January 26, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  54. Upon reading this post I couldn’t believe my eyes. “they’re leasing them to us!” Are you kidding? Apple is selling a phone just like anyone else, and the battery happens to be not user replaceable, so now Apple is “leasing phones to us”. This whole post is a joke right? The only reason the battery isn’t replaceable is purely to achieve a simplistic, seamless design.

    It’s unfortunate, you just lost me as a customer.

    Comment by John Appleseed — January 27, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  55. http://righttorepair.org/main/default.aspx
    This campaign by the independent car repair shops should be expanded to include ALL consumer-owned equipment, including Apple’s crapware.

    Everyone should take the time to fill in the form and send your politicianbots the message. righttorepair.org will handle the sending for all of us. Some politicianbots still haven’t got the Diebold and ES&S voting machines hacked to automatically make them win, so pay us enough attention to vote for us until they achieve complete vote control.

    Of course, like WOPR determined in “War Games”, the only course is NOT to play the game and simply stop buying Apple’s crapware until owners get COMPLIANCE with their wishes without this hacking nonsense.
    Sorry, just dreaming. The mesmerized masses cannot think for themselves.

    Comment by Larry — February 1, 2011 @ 7:16 am

  56. Had a scan through these posts and couldn’t help noticing that iFixit, as useful as it has always been to me whenever I’ve serviced an Apple product (from the original iMac G4 Luxo to Powerbooks and MacBook Pros) has changed its hitherto passive stance. Clearly there have been developments to bolster their business model by decrying the Apple practice of making their products as non user-servicable as possible. Fair play to Apple. And fair play to iFixit for making a bit of a song and dance in order to boost their profile.

    Most of the user comments seem to be on either side an emotionally defensive position. Personally, I carry on as before: wait for warranty to expire and then mod whatever is cost effective (new hard drive, replacement screen, batteries, ram upgrades, etc.). Apple is first port of call for warranty repairs (and they are GOOD at replacing defective iPhones – 4 so far!), iFixit is pretty much the oracle for everything else. iPhone batteries should last a long time (my 2G, 3G, and 3GS still going strong) but users should be aware of apps which cane the life out of them.

    Also, by the time batteries begin to fade in performance, most contracts are up for renewal anyway. iPhone 4G, see you in March, if only for your camera, baby!

    Apple products are generally beautiful and a joy to interact with, and they come with provisos. Just like my wife!

    Comment by Ghigo — February 1, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  57. It is simple, you buy if you want. Apple is not forcing anyone to buy their products.

    Comment by Marco — February 6, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

  58. Let me see here…

    Apple battery replacement: $89.95, parts (a NEW battery) and labor included.
    iFixit 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4 8x Superdrive: $199.95 for a USED part, with no installation
    iFixit 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4 keyboard: $99.95 for a USED part, with no installation
    iFixit 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4 DC-in board: $79.95 for a USED part, a part that is a power jack and a cable with a mere handful of line filter parts and a short cable, oh, and you still have to install it yourself or pay someone to do it.
    eBay 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4, 1.33Ghz, complete and working: $251.00
    eBay 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4, 1Ghz, complete and working: $167.50
    iFixit 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4, LCD display (display only, B Stock, USED): $149.95
    eBay 12″ Aluminum PowerBook G4, LCD assembly, complete w/case, bezel, cable, USED: $7.22

    I could go on for hours, but I think the point is made. I repair electronics for a living. Am I the world’s best? No, but Bang & Olufsen Authorized Service centers don’t suffer many fools either. I charge $55 and hour labor, and for the high-end audio market, that’s CHEAP. I’d gladly pay $89.95 to have someone else change the iPhone battery, that price is a BARGAIN. I also recycle good, used, tested parts, so I have a pretty good feel for the market value of used parts, and I can tell you the prices certainly don’t approach the retail prices for NEW replacement parts, as certain prices cited above certainly do.

    If you, or anyone else at iFixit wishes to write a scandalous article about high prices in the electronic repair and parts industry, perhaps you should start within your own walls (I bet the fact-checking on such an article would be much improved also).

    P.S. To anyone reading this, and getting this far, I apologize for the length (but thanks for staying with me), because the above could have been summarized in three words:

    Pot. Kettle. Black.

    Comment by Don — February 7, 2011 @ 1:33 am

  59. @Don – Cmon… $89? My android phones battery is $29 at Tmobile and $15 on ebay…. no waiting a week (I can’t go a week without it!). No labor required! Plus, I can carry an extra battery with me if I want.

    Comment by Bobby — February 7, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

  60. You say a battery will last one year. I’m still using my 3G phone everyday since 2008, and it lasts the full day. MoveOn.org with your article…

    Comment by Santiago — February 9, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  61. I have been noticing this trend with Apple for a while and, I am disappointed that Apple is so anti-customer but we have a choice and we can vote our displeasure with our $. I have several Apple products but I am already looking at Android as an open source and more customer friendly alternative.My next phone will not be an Apple phone and my next tablet will not be an iPad.

    People we can complain all we want but as long as you keep buying Apple, they have no incentive to hear our complaints. Your $’s speak louder than words.

    Comment by Arun Kapur — February 11, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  62. Bought a used g4 mac book. Was not worth it. Over $70 for a ac adapt, every thing is apple specific. Has nice looks but it is ass backwards. Should have bought a new dell for 1/2 the price.

    Comment by stephen — February 15, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  63. C’mon really folks? A few quick points:
    Apple knows consumers. They actually listen to what their users want and react accordingly. How many people do you know who use phones with replaceable batteries, actually carry around an extra battery? I don’t know any. If my iPhone battery dies, I can either take it to Apple or find out how to replace it myself. Just like if my Volvo needs repair, I can take it to Volvo ($$$$) or to another mechanic. Does that make Volvo evil? Nope. I have the choice. My iPhone 3G is nearing 3 years old. My battery still lasts about two days on a charge (with 3G, Bluetooth & Wi-Fi always on). I suspect I will willingly upgrade before I need to change the battery. Will I toss the old phone on the scrapheap? Nope. I will give it to someone who can use it and would appreciate it. My mom uses my old MacBook, my sister uses my old PowerBook, and my iBook is now a media server… Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Seems pretty simple to me.

    I’m not a mindless fanboy. I’m a business professional who doesn’t have the time or the inclination to battle my hardware constantly to make it work with my peripherals. 3 years ago when I got my smartphone there were no other viable alternatives that suited my needs. Because my iPhone has served me well I will definitely buy another. When I do, I’ll keep my screen brightness turned down to a reasonable level so I’m not needlessly draining my battery.

    Comment by Dom — February 16, 2011 @ 6:57 am

  64. p.s. Kyle. If iDevices were easier to repair wouldn’t you guys be out of a job?

    Comment by Dom — February 16, 2011 @ 6:58 am

  65. As soon as someoe says “I’m not a mindless fanboy.” I know that they are.

    Methinks all the Apple people doth protest too much.

    Comment by Joe — February 18, 2011 @ 10:44 am

  66. Interesting debate going on… I like apple products… I have owned hundreds if not thousands of apple laptops and ipods… Admittedly not having a user replaceable battery is a downside but not a deal breaker
    for most people. I have an old original iphone, since it was 2 weeks old…
    (was water damaged when I bought it for $150 and I fixed it and have used it since… have well over 1000 cycles on the battery, and I still get 2 full days out of it before it need a recharge… Thats just my story with the iphone… But then again I truly dislike some apple products, like the ipad… I mean give me a break… $500 for a huge ipod touch!?! (not that I was much of a fan of the touch either… too spendy) for $500 I would just buy a used macbook pro off ebay and call it good… Oops… am I rambling? ;)

    Comment by Nyatha — February 18, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  67. Its funny how none of this information is listed in Apple’s own posted “Environmental Staus Report” on the Specs page for the iPhone.

    Sounds like FAIL to me if their “Green” effort they like to boast about ends after manufactering and sales.

    Comment by billy bob — February 23, 2011 @ 4:56 pm


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