You might be in the habit of replacing your smartphone every couple of years, but most phones can last a lot longer than that. Like your car, they might just need a new part every now and then, and the best repair you can do on your phone to make it last longer is a battery replacement. But most batteries aren’t user-replaceable. So how do you actually get one?
Unfortunately, user-replaceable batteries are becoming increasingly rare, and most smartphone manufacturers don’t go too far out of their way to let you know that you can get a battery replacement at all. In fact, when Apple briefly lowered the cost of iPhone battery replacements, it resulted in about 10 times as many people replacing their batteries as usual (and, coincidentally, far fewer new iPhones sold that year). However, even if your battery is locked inside your phone, you can get a new one and keep your phone lasting longer.
Some Things to Consider Before Replacing the Battery
Even though battery replacements are very useful, they can also be a hassle to get done. In fact it’s not unlike getting work done on your car: You might be able to do it yourself, but it’s probably easier to pay someone else to do it, and you should expect to be without your phone for a while as you wait for the repair to finish.
Many places offer same-day repairs, as long as the battery for your device is in stock. That is, for repair places with physical locations near you. If you have a local Apple store or a uBreakiFix location near you, they might have what you need. But in some cases you’ll need to mail in your phone to get a repair, which could leave you without it for days. And while you may be able to get a loaner phone from some places, it can still be a hassle. On the other hand, it’s a lot better for the environment, not to mention your wallet, if you replace the battery rather than buy a new phone.
When You Should Replace the Battery
As a general rule, if you’ve had your phone for a couple years and it’s starting to show its age, that’s a pretty good time to look into a battery replacement. That’s right around the time you might be thinking about getting a new phone anyway–many carriers still offer upgrades or payment plans that renew every two years to entice you–but you can also check your battery’s health manually if you want to see if you need an upgrade sooner.
On iPhones, you can navigate to Settings > Battery > Battery Health to find a Maximum Capacity value that will show what percentage of your battery’s initial charge capacity is left. This isn’t how full your battery is right now but rather how much charge it can hold relative to how much it could hold when it was new. If this gets down to 80 percent (especially if it’s still under warranty), get a new battery.
As always, Android phones are a little more complicated; there are many different models and they don’t all work the same. Instead, you can use an app like AccuBattery to get detailed stats on the health of your battery. The app uses an estimate, not an official report, and it may take a few days to get a full picture of your battery’s health. But if it’s below 80 percent of its original capacity, it might be time to take a look at a replacement battery.
Take Your iPhone Into an Apple Store
If you have an iPhone and you want a battery replacement, you’re probably in the best position. If you’re still under warranty or AppleCare+, you can get a free battery replacement on most phones from the last several years. If you’re outside of coverage, the fees range from $49 to $69, depending on which phone you have.