Print 61 comment(s) - last by Fritzr.. on Aug 2 at 9:09 PM

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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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 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 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
...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.

"Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?... So why the f*** doesn't it do that?" -- Steve Jobs
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