TI drawn into Apple iPhone battery replacement dispute

August 16, 2019 // By Nick Flaherty
TI drawn into Apple iPhone battery replacement dispute
Texas Instruments fuel gauge at heart of dispute over battery replacement in latest iPhone models

Texas Instruments has been drawn into a dispute over battery replacement in the latest iPhones.

Verified on an iPhone XS running both iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta, swapping in a new genuine Apple battery from another iPhone XS resulted in the “Service” message popping up in the Battery Health section. This was followed by an “Important Battery Message” telling saying it’s “unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery.” This limits the battery life information availabnle in the iPhone, although it doesn't affect the operation of the battery nly the monitoring.

Justin Ashford, who runs ArtofRepair and is based in Shenzen in China, says the battery replacement issue only currently affects the latest iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max models and is a result of a secure code in a custom version of the Bq27546 fuel gauge from TI.

“If we look the original chip used on the original battery we find something very interesting. This is the Bq27546 fuel gauge is for all intents and purposes is the identical chip to the SA27546 [in the iPhone],” said Ashford. “This leads into a huge right to repair issue. The next batteries or phones that come out we could be facing a real lock out.”

While the fuel gauge provides the code, the new implementation goes a step further. Now even genuine batteries cannot use the battery health feature unless it is replaced by an Apple authorised repairer.

“By activating a dormant software lock on their newest iPhones, Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them,” says Craig Lloyd at repair specialist iFixit who verified the implementation.

Next: Battery replacement challenge

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