I paid Apple $69 to replace my 3-year-old iPhone battery. Here’s what happened


iPhone batteries can be replaced, but it’s pretty complicated. Better to let an expert do it, especially if the price is reasonable.

Stephen Beacham/CNET

My iPhone X just celebrated its third birthday, which is significant for a couple reasons. First, it’s the longest I’ve ever held onto a single phone; usually I upgrade every year or two. Second, like any three-year-old model, its battery ain’t what it used to be.

Thus I found myself thinking about a new phone, an extremely common reaction to poor battery life. Check out the results of a Twitter poll I conducted recently:

The thing is, I really like my iPhone X. It’s plenty fast and fits perfectly in my pocket. It takes great photos, including portraits. It doesn’t support 5G, but so what? I don’t need it, at least right now.

Best of all, it’s paid for. So do I really have to buy a whole new phone just to get a new battery? It’s not like I can pop the back off the X and swap out the old one. Not easily, anyway — I tried this delicate surgery a few times with earlier-generation iPhones and was never successful.

Read more: Is replacing your iPhone battery worth it? Here’s what you should consider

Fortunately, Apple offers in-store and mail-in battery-replacement service. And most local phone-repair shops will do this as well. Because I’m the Cheapskate, of course I shopped around first. Apple would obviously be the most expensive option (because it’s Apple!), so I asked for quotes from three nearby shops. To my surprise, the rates ranged from $89 to $129 — on the high side, I thought, but still far cheaper than buying a new phone.

Then I checked with Apple, and surprise, surprise: $69. (Prices vary depending on age and model; Apple charges only $49 for the iPhone SE, iPhone 8 and most earlier models.)

The other win: I felt a little more comfortable with Apple doing the work. A few years ago I hired a local shop to replace my daughter’s phone battery; it came back with a broken front camera. Around the same time, my sister used a different shop for a replacement battery; a couple months later, the phone started coming apart due to faulty glue.

This is not an indictment of phone-repair businesses, merely a bit of anecdotal experience. And the better pricing available from Apple proper made this a no-contest choice, at least for me.

Read more: Does fast charging affect battery life? 6 phone battery questions, answered

My date with Apple

Using Apple’s online scheduling tool, I quickly and easily set up an appointment at my local Apple Store. I was actually able to get a same-day appointment on a weekday. (Your mileage may vary, of course, same as with this entire experience.)

When I arrived at this formerly bustling store, I discovered that it had two queues set up outside: one for online-purchase pickups, one for Genius Bar appointments. Due to COVID, it’s no longer a retail operation, having been condensed down to about eight walk-up windows.

A security guard checked me in, and although there were about four people ahead of me in line, I waited only about five minutes. Once I got to the window, a friendly employee ran a few diagnostics on my phone, verified that it would benefit from a new battery, and sent me on my way.

Read more: 6 easy ways to make your phone last as long as possible before you need to replace it

I was told the repair would take about two hours; I was to return at precisely the time given, at which point I could skip the line and go straight to a pickup window.

And that’s exactly how it went down. The entire transaction was smooth and efficient, and $69 later my iPhone X feels like it just came out of the box — at least from a battery perspective. Normally, by 5 p.m. I’d be down to about 10% remaining. Yesterday, I still had 55% — at 8 p.m.

Will this buy me another three years? Quite possibly. Even if I keep the phone just another year or two, I think this was the smart move.

So before you toss out your old phone because of a failing battery, I highly recommend investigating your battery-replacement options.

CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow him on Facebook and Twitter. You can also sign up for deal texts delivered right to your phone. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and check out our CNET Coupons page for the latest Walmart discount codes, eBay coupons, Samsung promo codes and even more from hundreds of other online stores. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Answers live on our FAQ page.

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