Why South Africans replace their iPhone batteries instead of upgrading

Apple recently began blocking its Battery Health feature for iPhones that had their batteries replaced by a third-party repair company, responding to criticism by saying that this change was implemented for safety reasons.

“We take the safety of our customers very seriously and want to make sure any battery replacement is done properly,” said an Apple spokesperson.

“This information is there to help protect our customers from damaged, poor quality, or used batteries which can lead to safety or performance issues.”

We asked Sean Joffe, CEO of South African iPhone repair business AppleDoctor, about third-party iPhone battery replacements in South Africa.

iPhone battery replacements are worth it

Joffe told MyBroadband that iPhones can theoretically work for many years if the battery is replaced properly.

“There is really no reason to replace an iPhone or any smartphone if it is performing adequately unless there is a specific improvement like fast or wireless charging which offers the consumer a significant benefit,” said Joffe.

Joffe added that it is unlikely that Apple takes any further measures against third-party battery installations.

“Apple makes a growing and significant amount of money from service revenues, and it is therefore important for Apple to keep as many devices active globally for as long as possible.”

“Therefore, I simply cannot see Apple realistically disabling any additional functionality by using third-party batteries other than the Battery Health feature.”

According to Joffe, battery replacements now account for over 40% of AppleDoctor’s repairs.

He added that the company has seen its battery replacement figures grow by 55% year-on-year.

“This absolutely means consumers are becoming aware that their batteries can be replaced reliably and inexpensively but also demonstrates that people are hanging onto their phones for longer,” said Joffe.

“Consumers are also becoming increasingly concerned about how we recycle our old batteries, which is great. Unfortunately, not every repair company subscribes to these environmental values.”

Phone upgrades are decreasing

According to Joffe, fewer South Africans are opting to upgrade their devices, with more willing to repair and continue using their current smartphones.

“As the mobile networks are gradually shifting away from subsidising phones on post-paid contracts and the real cost of the handset is passed directly to the consumer, the necessity to upgrade has correspondingly slowed down,” said Joffe.

“Consumers seem to have matured and are not as motivated to buy the latest devices; they seem to only be in the market for a new iPhone when their device becomes problematic and are generally happy to shop down.”

He added that the success of the iPhone Xr is indicative of the price ceiling that exists for iPhones and other premium brands.

“I think Apple will be acutely aware that consumers are looking for value but equally the premium quality of iPhone and that will be the challenge this September for Apple.”

Now read: Hackers release jailbreak for modern iPhones

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Why South Africans replace their iPhone batteries instead of upgrading