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iPhone customer is upset with Apple over the lack of a user-replaceable battery

The iPhone has been parading through news headlines ever since its early January unveil at MacWorld 2007. When the bulk of the tech press was roaming around Las Vegas totally underwhelmed by the Consumer Electronics Show, Apple was spilling the beans on a product that had been long rumored.

During its unveil, Apple went over the bulk of the iPhone's features and reporters were quick to point out its deficiencies. A few minuses that were harped upon with regards to the iPhone included its lack of a physical keyboard and its sealed battery.

The lack of a physical keyboard has been overcome by many iPhones users who have become accustomed to the on-screen alternative, but many still harp on the lack of a user-replaceable battery.

Apple claims that the iPhone's battery is good for 400 charge/discharge cycles. The design specifications for the iPhone note that the battery will retain 80 percent of its charge after 400 cycles have been exhausted.

For those that weren't satisfied with 400 charge cycles or experience greatly diminished battery life, Apple announced its $85.95 battery replacement program. Under the program, customers would pay $79 plus $6.95 shipping in the event of an iPhone battery failure. And considering that users would be without an iPhone a week or more for repairs, Apple also announced that it would rent an iPhone ($29) to those who couldn't be without a phone.

iPhone users now have a cheaper option with AppleCare coverage. AppleCare extends the iPhone's warranty from one year to two years and is available for $69.

One iPhone customer wasn't happy at all with the iPhone's battery life or the two alternatives to replacing a defective battery and filed a class-action lawsuit against Apple as a result. In the suit, Jose Trujillo claims that:

Unknown to the Plaintiff, and undisclosed to the public, prior to purchase, the iPhone is a sealed unit with its battery soldered on the inside of the device so that it cannot be changed by the owner.

The suit goes on state:

The battery enclosed in the iPhone can only be charged approximately 300 times before it will be in need of replacement, necessitating a new battery annually for owners of the iPhone.

To the first point; the fact that the battery was not replaceable was disclosed to the public from the very beginning and is nothing new. Secondly, the suit claims that the iPhone battery can only be charged for 300 times before it needs replacement. Apple clearly states that the iPhone’s battery will retain 80 percent capacity even after its design specifications of 400 cycles.

The full text of the complaint can be viewed at Gizmodo, but it's doubtful that the suit will gain much traction in court.



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Silly
By SirLucius on 7/27/2007 4:20:28 PM , Rating: 3
This is such a silly lawsuit. As said in the article, it was made very clear in the beginning that there was no user-replaceable battery. Even the local news stations were saying how the iPhone didn't have a replaceable battery, and their technology reports are almost always sorely lacking. It seems to me that you'd have to be living under a rock not to know.

And I find it very hard to believe that this guy can claim only 300 charges without any hard evidence. I highly doubt he sat around charging and delpeting his battery until it was completely dead.




RE: Silly
By Sazar on 7/27/2007 4:23:31 PM , Rating: 2
The ONLY annoyance I can see is loss of data during a battery replacement.

And that too can probably be solved by imaging to your computer before replacement. Those w/o computers, perhaps Apple can store an image in-store (or factory or whatever) while replacement takes place.

This lawsuit is just plain dumb.


RE: Silly
By tekzor on 7/27/2007 5:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
Now Anandtech provides me with a comedy fill for the day in addition to my tech news!


RE: Silly
By Ralph The Magician on 7/27/2007 6:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
A backup of the phone is stored in your local iTunes profile every time you sync it and there is new data. When you plug it in after say, a hard reset that whipes all data, you are given the option to restore from backup.


RE: Silly
By MarlboroGuy on 7/27/2007 4:28:12 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
And I find it very hard to believe that this guy can claim only 300 charges without any hard evidence. I highly doubt he sat around charging and delpeting his battery until it was completely dead.


im sure someone out there did exactly that. Most companies put in some kind of life cycle in their products, They need their gismo's to break down so the consumer can either purchase a newer model, or pay for repairs that isnt covered by the warranty.


RE: Silly
By geeg on 7/27/2007 5:00:19 PM , Rating: 2
Sending the unit out to have its battery replaced might grow concerns about the sensitive data on the phone. Besides the data might be lost.


RE: Silly
By SirLucius on 7/27/2007 5:09:15 PM , Rating: 3
That's very true. But let's think about this. If you're able to afford a $500-600 phone plus service contract, I'm 99% sure you'll also have a computer able to run iTunes 7.3. And when looking at the iPhone options in iTunes it seems pretty simple to backup information from the phone to your computer. In fact, if I recall correctly, Apple stated somewhere that it highly advised to backup your iPhone to your computer before sending it in for a battery replacement. So if you're that concerned about losing info, or info getting leaked, backup and wipe your phone before sending it in.

Don't get me wrong, I think the lack of an user-replaceable battery on the iPhone is a HUGE ommission, and Apple should include one in later revisions of the phone. But if you don't bother to research before purchasing a $600 phone, that's on you, not Apple, regardless of what their phone SHOULD be able to do.


RE: Silly
By MADAOO7 on 7/28/2007 6:39:52 PM , Rating: 3
SirLucious, the lack of a replaceable battery was not an oversight at all, but intentional in order for the iPhone to have such a small form factor. The same goes for why the phone lacks 3G ability.

http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3036&p=6


RE: Silly
By SiliconAddict on 7/29/2007 4:01:04 AM , Rating: 4
That is a load of bullcrap. I've taken apart a crap load of PDA's and phones over the years and I can tell you right now the amount of space needed to add a removable battery and connectors is marginal at best. At most you are adding length to the thing. Not width. This has NOTHING to do with size, and as everything to do with Apple wringing a bit more money out of their iPhone suc....customers.


RE: Silly
By grtgrfx on 7/29/2007 1:00:22 PM , Rating: 2
The only reason the iPhone battery's not replaceable is so Apple doesn't have to a) increase the thickness of the phone to allow a door, and b) so they can retain the unbroken steel back, which strengthens the case. So, mainly for appearance, slightly for structural reinforcement.

Of course they may merely have an exclusive contract with the manufacturers of these extra-slim batteries so that other sellers couldn't acquire them anyway.


RE: Silly
By littleprince on 7/27/2007 7:39:59 PM , Rating: 2
The battery doesnt magically die. The life gets shorter. If your that worried about it, before the life is like 3 seconds, wipe the dang thing and send it in.

People who cry privacy all the time are the ppl who deserve to be robbed because the criminals ARE a lot smarter than they are!


RE: Silly
By MonkeyPaw on 7/27/2007 5:16:41 PM , Rating: 5
And if history is any guide, there will be no replaceable batteries in iPhones in the future. After all these years, the iPod still doesn't have one, so why should the iPhone be so lucky? Look how much money Apple makes by selling people their second, third or fourth iPod. The iPhone is just a more profitable iPod.

As always, Apple (and their customers) choose form over function. It's such a paradox, since Apple's software is typically quite intuitive. Like with the iPod battery lawsuits, this one will also go nowhere.


RE: Silly
By invidious on 7/28/07, Rating: 0
RE: Silly
By SiliconAddict on 7/29/2007 4:10:27 AM , Rating: 3
Yah and all of those batteries are do it yourself. It is no simple task to replace a battery for your average person and you damn well know it.
$10 says most people would rip some of the ribbon cables while they tried replacing the battery.


RE: Silly
By bpurkapi on 7/29/2007 1:33:58 PM , Rating: 3
The main problem is that Apple is thought of as being top of the line, or better because of the intuitive software and ascetically pleasing designs. Almost everyone I know forgets that the actual parts such as the flash memory, or the battery are made in a factory in China. All computer companies like dell, apple, toshiba, gateway, use the same cheap mass produced parts. This is the reason why apple sucks, it gives people who know little about computers some sort of an idea that an apple product is superior, but in fact the individual got the same hardware as they could get inside a dell.


RE: Silly
By iwod on 7/27/2007 10:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
LOL, come on, it is America and no law suit are silly. You can sue anyone for just about anything.


RE: Silly
By paydirt on 7/30/2007 8:46:45 AM , Rating: 2
Lawsuits like these should be thrown out on the first day.


RE: Silly
By tedrodai on 7/30/2007 11:31:58 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed on the first point. What's the saying that applies here? "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

I personally feel like their battery policies are akin to highway robbery, but they definitely told anyone who wanted to listen well before it was on the store shelves.

But hey, it's life...just think of all the lawsuits caused by "didn't realize I/she would get pregnant!"


Mixed feelings
By FITCamaro on 7/27/2007 4:45:22 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that the fact that the iPhone's battery was not user replaceable was widely known and there could be no way a consumer did not know that prior to purchase, the 400 charge cycle number does not share the same status. I sincerely doubt that fact was told to them at the store and its extremely possible for the consumer not to have known that. Not everyone visits websites like this.

That being the case, I see that as just cause for the suit. I think its ridiculous to sell a phone with a non-user replaceable battery in the first place. And considering that most people charge their phones nightly, I doubt an iPhone battery will last much longer than a year and a half. Even in laptops many batteries start to die after a year and a half.

Then to not only make it impossible for the user to change the battery themselves, but to charge them over $85 to change it is ridiculous. On top of that they make you pay to rent a phone for a week or two while they change it out. So basically to change your battery and not have interrupted phone service, its going to cost you at least $115. If you don't pay for the rental phone, then you're still paying for a phone service that you can't use.

While I'm generally against lawsuits, I think Apple needs to be creamed on this one. I don't think the dude should get millions of dollars. But I think Apple should be forced to redesign the iPhone with a user replaceable battery or at the very least, replace it in the store for a nominal fee more akin to the normal replacement cost of a battery with other phones.




RE: Mixed feelings
By acejj26 on 7/27/2007 5:16:53 PM , Rating: 1
ORRRRRR....if you don't like the specs on the phone, just don't buy it. Basically, every phone battery has a limited number of charge cycles before it starts to lose capacity. I'd imagine that 400 charges would be at least 2-3 years of use, and even after that, you still have the ability to use the phone...it just wouldn't last as long per charge.

People need to do their research BEFORE buying items like this, not after the fact.


RE: Mixed feelings
By EntreHoras on 7/28/2007 9:54:25 AM , Rating: 2
If the battery charge last 1 day, you should charge the phone daily. So 400 charges is 400 days or 13 months. Then the battery will retain 80%, so it has to be charged twice a day. How long the iphone will last with the original battery? 1 1/2 years? 20 months? But the contract you signed for using the iphone ties you for 3 years.

As the iphone is intended to fashion followers and not to tech savvies, I guess that most of the iphone buyers will agree this suit.


RE: Mixed feelings
By grtgrfx on 7/29/2007 1:05:38 PM , Rating: 2
TWO-year contract. What planet are you from? And how much time your phone lasts is up to the owner and his usage. Some iPhones will no doubt hold their charge for several days because the users won't constantly surf c|net and anandtech.com for the latest stupid Apple rumors.


RE: Mixed feelings
By EntreHoras on 7/29/2007 2:10:27 PM , Rating: 4
I'm from the planet got-a-life. Here, the people are less passionate of overhyped gadgets.


RE: Mixed feelings
By Flunk on 7/31/2007 9:48:27 AM , Rating: 2
20 months is ok anyway. Most of the people who bought one of these will have bought the next overhyped phone by then anyway.


RE: Mixed feelings
By Martimus on 7/31/2007 3:39:31 PM , Rating: 2
Most people recharge their phones everyday, when they get home from work, or when they go to bed. You can mainly get rid of the memory on the battery by completely discharging it (Works best at the rate of charge), but with out it being accessable, it would be rather difficult to do that. When I was designing power supplies for my data-logger, I actually built a little circuit with the proper resistance to discharge the battery at approximately the same rate that I charged it in order to keep the battery capacity at an acceptable level. I am surprised that no-one has built any of these circuits to sell as an alternative to buying a high priced batery replacement.


RE: Mixed feelings
By Fritzr on 8/2/2007 9:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
I've heard of this solution being used for NiCad. One truck battery was said to be many years old and holding full charge. First I've heard that it works on other types also.

I think the answer to your final comment is in the comment. They don't sell battery savers since it would keep batteries from being replaced :)


RE: Mixed feelings
By TomZ on 7/27/2007 5:53:49 PM , Rating: 3
If you support the view that this is a valid lawsuit, then what law was broken? False advertising, no, since it was clear that the battery was not replaceable prior to purchase. Breach of warranty? No, the battery should outlive the paltry warranty. Then what?

Also, I think we should also think about the harm done to the individual in this case. How does this situation cause this invidual any significant financial harm? What is the value they lost, that they thought they would have? $20? $50? $100?

Finally, I should mention the following. Of all the phones I've owned, personally and through my business for my employees, we've never replaced a battery, ever. Usually in 2-3 years when the battery starts to be not so great, we just get a new phone, which basically costs nothing. Maybe iPhones will see longer life because of their premium cost, but I would think that most iPhone users will want to upgrade to the "latest and greatest" when their iPhone battery becomes unusable. And in that sense, Apple probably made the correct (but unpopular) decision with their original design.


RE: Mixed feelings
By Keeir on 7/27/2007 7:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...way a consumer did not know that prior to purchase, the 400 charge cycle number does not share the same status


Actually, if you read the iphone user manual when you purchase the phone, it explains in brief the battery problem and directs the user to a website that explains the entire problem. (Under how to charge your Iphone, and some other places as well)

Under typical ATT wireless policies, you should be able to return the phone and cancel the contract within 30 days with only the cost of the used minutes/services. I have done this myself with other phones, not sure if this applies to the Iphone.

Futhermore, if a phone battery dies (is 50% of total) within one year or two with extended warrenty (Apple Care), Apple will replace the battery for free. The charge is for people after 1/2 year that choose to replace thier battery.

Given that 1. you can return the merchandice with little or no additional cost (besides consumption costs) within 30 days (plenty of time to read your user's manual at least) and that 2. Apple will be replacing batteries at 50% capacity for 1 year, not sure how the customer is being cheated here...


RE: Mixed feelings
By lewisc on 7/29/2007 4:30:27 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that the basis of this case is pretty ridiculous, just one small point; I don't think you can rely upon the manual as a source of information to the customer, as by the point at which the consumer has the opportunity to read the manual, the contract has already been made.

It is a question as to whether the battery life issues, and cost of replacement, amount to a change in the contract between the customer and Apple after it has been made (in which case the customer would be able to either sue for damages, or rescind, depending on the scope of the breach) or if they're not considered important or pertinent enough for Apple to have reasonably informed in the first place.


RE: Mixed feelings
By mgambrell on 7/29/2007 3:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
You can read the manual before you buy it. Go ahead, ask. They'll crack open a box and let you see it.


specs
By y2chuck on 7/31/2007 11:00:49 AM , Rating: 2
iPhone SPecs:

Talk time: Up to 8 hours
Standby time: Up to 250 hours
Internet use: Up to 6 hours
Video playback: Up to 7 hours
Audio playback: Up to 24 hours

After 400 charges, 80% of the charge is retained:

Talk time: Up to 6.4 hours
Standby time: Up to 200 hours
Internet use: Up to 4.8 hours
Video playback: Up to 5.6 hours
Audio playback: Up to 19.2 hours

That seems like pretty adequate battery performance for most users. I think this lawsuit is a crock. I've had my Samsung phone for almost 5 years now and haven't needed a new battery. My audiovox PDA was still going strong after 2 years without a battery replacement and that was with corporate, heavy use.




RE: specs
By mindless1 on 7/31/2007 1:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget what happens when marketing departments get ahold of engineering data. This 400/80% is quite likely a best-case scenario and could ignore some variables. Without the test scenario to determine these numbers we can't assume field use will mirror their result. "Up to x hours"? How about if they gave average or minimum instead?

You write that your phone hasn't "needed" a new battery, but that says nothing about how long you use it per charge, what the remaining capacity is at this point, or what the capacity:current draw is per device. IMO, today margins are thinner than ever as manufacturers seek to provide ever smaller phones.

It's a bit beside the point though, that $80+ for the battery is just ridiculously excessive.


RE: specs
By y2chuck on 7/31/2007 1:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, that's true, those numbers are going to be best case scenario marketing numbers. Didn't think of that.

In my case, my Samusung is still good for 4 to 5 days of standby time and I would guess-timate 3 to 4 hours of talk time. I probably charge it 3 times per week.

I still don't think this lawsuit has any merit to it.


RE: specs
By mindless1 on 8/2/2007 8:24:05 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, but it's a different product and different manufacturer. Samsung, unlike Apple, doesn't go out of their way to twist truth on a regular basis.


Memory slot?
By Alphafox78 on 7/27/2007 5:14:34 PM , Rating: 2
If they should be pissed about anything, I would think it would be a lack of a SD or some kind of card slot. I mean cumon, $100 for 4GB is a rip, if they just included a slot it wouldnt be an issue. they just want to rip people with their overpriced memory IMO




RE: Memory slot?
By DragonMaster0 on 7/27/2007 5:30:52 PM , Rating: 3
They rip people with more than just memory I think...


Overhead
By Slaimus on 7/27/2007 4:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
Now we know, at least part of the reason, why Apple needs to charge $600.




RE: Overhead
By DragonMaster0 on 7/27/2007 5:28:01 PM , Rating: 2
Hehehe :D


Question
By Tbonus on 7/27/2007 4:41:14 PM , Rating: 2
The battery enclosed in the iPhone can only be charged approximately 300 times before it will be in need of replacement, necessitating a new battery annually for owners of the iPhone.
I hav aquestion that I hpoe that someone with more brain power than I might be able to anwser. How is it possible that a person can drain a battery over 300 times in lest then one month with normal use? What is the battery life in his iPhone, a hour?




RE: Question
By Dactyl on 7/27/2007 9:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
(I think you should re-check your figures--if someone charges their phone once every day for a year, it will be 350+ charges, and "annually" means "once per year")


Hero.
By KeithTalent on 7/27/2007 5:13:32 PM , Rating: 4
Hutz: Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, "The Never-Ending Story".
Homer: So. Do you think I have a case?
Hutz: Homer, I don't use the word "hero" very often, but you are the greatest hero in American history.
Homer: Woo hoo!

I have placed this quote here in honour of the movie being out today, but also to illustrate the ridiculous of this lawsuit.

KT




Yup
By Polynikes on 7/28/2007 12:49:44 PM , Rating: 2
These are reasons why people like me don't rush out to buy brand new products. I prefer to wait while they iron out the kinks.




RE: Yup
By SiliconAddict on 7/29/2007 4:13:22 AM , Rating: 2
Non replaceable batteries aren't kinks. They are design features, and a crappy one at that.


Prices
By The Boston Dangler on 7/27/2007 7:37:50 PM , Rating: 3
Man, you Apple sheeple simply love getting flim-flammed.




But with gadgets
By Coca Cola on 7/28/2007 3:00:22 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Look how much money Apple makes by selling people their second, third or fourth iPod.

quote:
It's like Apple goes out of their way to screw people with how they do hardware and people just eat it up.


Maybe it's Stockholm syndrome




So long!
By Oregonian2 on 7/27/2007 4:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder why it took so long for a lawsuit to be filed. :-)

P.S. - But at least it's as silly as one might expect. I'm surprised that stupid people have the ability to file lawsuits, the paperwork must be REALLY easy (else I guess a lawsuit would be filed against the courts for making it hard). But they continue to amaze me anyway.




Simple
By Neil Anderson on 7/28/2007 12:06:27 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a simple case of assault and battery to me.
--
Neil Anderson
http://www.cyclelogicpress.com




OMIGOD / An Apple with a problem
By jstchilln on 7/28/2007 11:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
I love it. I thought that all apple products were error free and were the path to true enlightenment.




One Word:
By BeanoJosh on 7/29/2007 3:13:57 AM , Rating: 2
Dumb.




A complete non-issue
By psychobriggsy on 7/29/2007 9:04:58 PM , Rating: 2
400 full charge cycles?

I bet >95% of iPhone users don't drain the battery on a daily basis. Thus 400 cycles would be over 2 years for them anyway (and for a phone, meh, get a new one, or deal with the slightly lower capacity at that stage, oh no!).

Even if you discharge completely daily, requiring a full recharge, it's over a full year of use and even then you still have some charge. If your phone is this important, I'm sure you will have the Applecare anyway, so the battery will be replaced for free. Your call plan will most likely be the most expensive and be costing you nearly $3000 over those two years, making an $86 fee seem like a mere pittance anyway.

I've never replaced a battery in any phone I've owned. My two year old nano's battery is still lasting as long as when it was new as far as I can tell, and that's used all the time. The battery is a complete non-issue for 99% of people, and the 1% that it does affect will probably not have chosen an iPhone for different reasons than the battery.




brilliant!
By tcunning on 7/29/2007 10:19:05 PM , Rating: 2
This is obviously moronic, and my first reaction was that when you cultivate the kind of customer base Apple does, this is the kind of loons you get. But a true fanboy believes Apple can do no wrong, so this is probably a Palm or Blackberry employee.

Anyone who couldn't figure out the iPhone's battery wasn't user replaceable by flipping it over before they left the store should have theirs confiscated and given to me as punishment. Apple's been sued many times before for other things like this (my iPod scratched!), which is kind of absurd considering they probably have some of the best engineering and customer service in the industry. Then again, maybe the Dells of the world are also getting sued left and right but we don't hear about it because their products (or misplaced hatred of them) aren't news.




Screw Apple
By mindless1 on 7/31/2007 12:59:34 AM , Rating: 2
It's about time companies stopped acting like their product is only meant to work as spec'd for a year or so. Let them feel it in their pockets, it is ridiculous in this day and age that a product needs a ~ $80+ replacement part within 30 months. If nothing else, technology was supposed to make life EASIER, not more of a PITA.




Lawyers
By Dactyl on 7/27/07, Rating: -1
Come on!!!
By tigerman81 on 7/28/07, Rating: -1
the way i see it
By zaki on 7/27/07, Rating: -1
RE: the way i see it
By PWNettle on 7/27/2007 5:42:46 PM , Rating: 3
Not only that, but an overpriced gadget with the usual Apple idiosyncracies/stupities. A built-in battery? Have to send it in and be without it for weeks to get service or just to get a new battery? It's like Apple goes out of their way to screw people with how they do hardware and people just eat it up. Masochists!


RE: the way i see it
By MADAOO7 on 7/28/2007 6:47:30 PM , Rating: 4
Overpriced? It's a luxury item, what do you expect? They aren't intending to sell this at Wal-Mart. If you don't want to spend the money, don't buy it. You don't see people complaining about how Ferrari's are priced.


RE: the way i see it
By zaki on 7/30/2007 10:59:27 AM , Rating: 1
i didnt expect it to be cheap, but i wouldnt expect sensible people to flock to it like dummies either.

you can build a product that costs a lot, but then justifying purchasing it is what im concerned about.


RE: the way i see it
By mindless1 on 8/2/2007 8:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree, they'd love it if every store including Walmart sold them.

yes it's overpriced, duh?

If every Ferrari had a (85/600) 14% of retail cost addt'l charge to keep it running after 400 drives, you'd better believe there'd be a similar backlash.


RE: the way i see it
By DragonMaster0 on 7/27/2007 5:44:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
$600 for a phone, thats almost criminal, if people have that much money to through around, I hope they're putting twice as much into charity.

Why would they put lots of money in charity? They won't be able to buy the next iPod revision if they do.


RE: the way i see it
By DragonMaster0 on 7/28/07, Rating: 0
"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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