After Apple fessed up to implementing a mechanism that automatically and covertly throttles iPhones with degraded batteries, the company extended an olive branch to angry customers by offering to replace batteries of iPhone 6 and later handsets at a reduced cost, and to do so no matter what condition they were in. Many iPhone owners took Apple up on the offer. So many, in fact, that waits times to have the battery replaced are now approaching two months.
Normally the cost of a battery replacement for an iPhone 6 or newer handset runs $79. However, Apple slashed the price all the way down to $29 and did not put any restrictions on battery health. So, anyone with an iPhone 6 or newer handset who wanted a brand new battery could get one for relatively cheap. The discounted replacement program proved a bit more popular than perhaps Apple anticipated.
Earlier this month, the wait time was around 2 to 4.5 weeks, and it was expected that the wait time would decrease. However, an analyst with Barclays wrote in a note that wait times have actually increased to 3 to 4.5 weeks, and that the longest wait time of any Apple Store was discovered to be 9 to 10 weeks. That is a long time to be without a phone, assuming a user does not have access to a backup device.
According to the note, demand for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus replacement batteries are primarily responsible for the extended wait times. That's not too surprising, since those are the oldest model iPhones that Apple is offering the discount on. As such, they are also most susceptible to throttling, in theory, as they would have been in use longer than newer handsets.
As an added wrinkle, the replacement program could hurt Apple's iPhone sales going forward, at least in the short-term, the note suggests. After all, if a fresh battery breathes new life into an aging handset, customers may find they are better off spending $29 on their existing handset rather than absorbing the cost of a new phone, which typically runs several hundred dollars.