It appears that the recently launched iPhone battery replacement programme has run into some difficulties in India. The programme, which was initiated late last month to offer cheaper battery replacements to users experiencing slow performance on iPhone models with older batteries, is facing supply constraints.
Recently, a report indicate that there is a major supply shortage of batteries for iPhone 6 Plus internationally, and while that seems to be the case in India as well, the situation on the ground suggests that iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus users are also facing delays in their attempts to get their batteries replaced.
To see how this was affecting customers, Gadgets 360 visited and called multiple Apple authorised service centres in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai who stated that replacement batteries for various iPhone models are in short supply. A service executive at iCare in Delhi's Vasant Kunj said that since the launch of the battery replacement programme in late December, over 150 people have visited the store requesting replacement of their iPhone's battery. However, the service executive said the centre has been able to service only two - yes, two - of these customers due to supply constraints.
"Apple might have underestimated the magnitude of this whole issue and how many people would opt to replace their batteries considering it is one-third the original price," Kiranjeet Kaur, Senior Research Manager of IDC Asia Pacific, told Gadgets 360. "Replacing would help not only in the experience while they are using it but also the resale value."
The process of initiating the battery replacement is quite easy. You just need to visit one of your nearby Apple authorised service centres where a service executive will run a diagnostics test to determine whether your iPhone is eligible for battery replacement. This seems to be in contradiction with Apple's policy in the US, where you can apparently get a battery replacement regardless of the test's results. The test, which takes around half an hour, mainly reports whether the battery performance is above or below Apple's recommended threshold for replacement.
If test reports your battery is eligible for replacement and your iPhone is still under warranty, you will be asked to leave the phone with the service centre. The phone will typically be ready to be collected in two days as the phone is kept under observation. However, this is not the case if you're looking to get the battery replaced for an out-of-warranty iPhone. The service centre will return the handset to you after performing the diagnostic test, and if the battery is found to be consumed, the service centre requests a replacement from Bengaluru.
Apple kicked off the battery replacement programme for the iPhone 6 and later models at a price of Rs. 2,000 excluding taxes, which came to around Rs. 2,600 after adding the taxes. However, support executives at multiple Apple authorised service centres told Gadgets 360 that the price has been reduced to Rs. 2,000, all inclusive.
So you pay Rs. 2,000 and take back your iPhone with the promise you will get a call from Apple when your phone is ready for pickup. Depending upon their current battery stock situation, service centre executives have been warning customers it may be several weeks before they get a call back. If it's any consolation, after all your new battery will come with a 90-day warranty, irrespective of the warranty status of the affected iPhone.
A service executive at Unicorn Infosolutions, Gurgaon (DLF Cyber City) told Gadgets 360 that, on average, 10 to 12 customers have been visiting the centre every day to opt for the battery replacement programme.
We went in looking for a battery replacement at Unicorn service centre in Mumbai's Colaba for our iPhone 6s and got lucky as the centre had "just received" a battery for that model. Customer service executives said typically five to seven customers come in every day seeking replacement batteries, and the average waiting period for the iPhone 6 is three weeks. We saw two customers trying to get replacement batteries for their iPhone 6s Plus also being told to expect a similar wait period.
A service executive at IOQR Global Services, Janakpuri, said the Apple recently notified all service centres across India that the replacement battery shipments for the iPhone 6 Plus had been delayed until March. An executive at iCare, however, said that the shipments were not likely to be fulfilled until the middle of April.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment.
Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz estimated that the iPhone battery replacement programme could cost Apple a whopping $10 billion from reduced sales in lost sales. Regardless, IDC's Kaur says that the programme will benefit Apple in the long run.
"It would help Apple to secure the trust of its existing user base which accounts for the majority of its sales every year, even if it comes at a cost since penny-pinching would hurt it in the long run," she affirmed.
With inputs from Rishi Alwani