iPhone 6s Battery Woes

Over the past few months, I’ve been having some major battery issues with my iPhone 6s. On a typical day, I’m lucky if I get over 4.5 hours of use on a single charge. And I’ll occasionally experience unexpected shutdowns — my iPhone will have anywhere from 30-50% left, but will just shutdown and offer the dead battery indicator. Once I plug the device in for a minute or two, it will reboot and display roughly the same battery life as when it shutdown, but will be usable for another hour or two without issues.

That’s pretty pitiful if you ask me — I feel like I’m constantly tethered to my wall charger. And on days when I know I’m going to be using my device extensively without access to power, I’ll usually keep it in Low Power Mode the entire day. That, of course, means that I miss out on Hey Siri, background app refresh, and automatic downloads until I return to a location with reliable charging capabilities.

As someone who preordered the iPhone 6s on the first night it was available, the device is just outside of AppleCare’s reach. I was beginning to consider replacing the battery myself. iFixit offers a battery replacement kit for $45 and I’m fairly confident I could perform the repair without too much trouble.

Then, a few weeks ago, Apple announced a battery replacement program for iPhone 6s owners. If your iPhone’s serial number fell within a certain range and you were experiencing issues, you could get the battery replaced for free. And anyone who paid to have their battery replaced by Apple could request a refund. Problem solved!

Except for one little issue, I live about two hours away from the nearest Apple Store. I don’t want to take the four hour trip (total) just to find out they don’t have the part in stock, leaving me with no option but to return at a later date. In order to get a bit more information about the process, I contacted Apple Support through their online chat system.

The person I spoke with was knowledgeable about the issue and could confirm that my iPhone was within the affected serial number range, but was only able to offer a couple pieces of advice to help the repair go smoothly. She told me to make an appointment so I wouldn’t have to wait after I arrived and call the store before I leave my house to see if they have the part in stock. That sounded like great advice, but with how busy life is this time of year, I decided to try a different approach before trying my luck at the Apple Store.

I contacted my local Best Buy early last week to confirm that they were an Apple authorized service provider — they are — and to see if they would be able to handle the battery repair. My nearest Best Buy is about 20 minutes from my house and it would be much more convenient if I could go through them. The person I spoke with on the phone didn’t seem particularly knowledgeable about the issue or even about Apple repairs in general. From what I can gather, the two Apple repair techs were the only ones on staff who had any idea what was going on.

Unfortunately, neither of the Apple techs were available when I called, but the employee I spoke with set up an appointment for me to come in later in the week. I came in fully prepared — I had unpaired my Apple Watch, backed up my device with iTunes, and was ready to sign out of iCloud and erase the contents of my device before handing it over for the repair. But none of that happened.

Instead, I was told that they don’t offer loaner phones at all and that they would have to hold my phone while they waited for the part to arrive. That’s three days at the earliest before the part arrives, another day for them to perform the repair and test it to ensure everything was working well. And again, that’s the fastest timeline he could offer me — I’d have to go four or more days without my iPhone or Apple Watch. That’s ridiculous. At that rate, I’d be better off mailing my iPhone to Apple for them to perform the repair.

So now I’m left trying to find enough time to travel to my nearest Apple Store. It’s not something I can really do on a random afternoon — four hours, round-trip, means I’ll have to go on my day off, at some point, scheduling around all of my family gatherings and other holiday-related commitments.

But even if I did make it up to the Apple Store, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to perform the repair that day. Based on Dr. Drang’s experience, I’ll have to go to the Apple Store and speak to a Genius in order for them to order and reserve the part for me. Then I’ll have to return once the part arrives. I might have to make two trips to the Apple Store — a total of eight hours of travel time — in order to get this repair completed.

I can understand that Apple is constrained on replacement batteries and I also know that I’m a unique case in that I live so far from an Apple Store, but there has to be a better way to handle this. The cost, in gas alone, for me to travel to my nearest Apple Store is about $20. If I take two trips, I’m getting dangerously close to the cost of that iFixit repair kit — which is currently in stock and ready to ship immediately.

I’m not sure how I’ll end up going about the replacement. I’ll probably just wait until after Christmas, when things slow down, and make the trip to the Apple Store. Hopefully by then they will have sorted out the supply issues and I’ll be able to get it replaced in one trip. But, if they continue having supply problems, I’m not ruling out the possibility of just replacing the battery myself. According to iFixit’s guide, it only takes about 30 minutes to perform — I could have it done the day the part arrives, I wouldn’t have to spend much time without my device, and I wouldn’t have to travel 4-8 hours. That last point alone certainly makes it an appealing option.