Apple backs up iPad's battery -- for a price

When good batteries go bad; Apple's got a plan for your iPad

Although I am loathe to write another blog post about the battery life of the iPad, after my last one spawned an international flame war with Steve Jobs himself writing in to comment, I do need to highlight a comment that a reader sent in — and the response from Apple.

Amid all the hate mail I got when I questioned whether the iPad could hold a charge for more than 10 hours, there was one person who asked what would happen if their iPad battery went bad. It’s a fair question.

Previous: Steve Jobs responds to GCN's iPad coverage, while Mac faithful howl

Those of you who, like me, take very good care of your laptop PCs know that no matter what you do, eventually the battery is going to lose its power and die. With a laptop, you can simply buy a new one, or use it while it’s plugged into the wall. But with the iPad, the battery is not replaceable.Most likely because the battery is molded into the unit to make use of every bit of available space, it probably takes a technician to actually get the old one out.

I asked Apple about this and was directed to the company's support site, where Apple actually has a really good policy in place to address this issue.

According to the company, if your iPad’s battery goes bad, you can get a new, or at least a refurbished, unit. That’s a pretty good deal, and will likely take a little bit of the worry away from people purchasing a device without replicable batteries. Kudos to Apple for stepping up to the plate on this one, though they should do a bit more.

The service is not free. You will need to pay $99 plus $6 for shipping, and might need to add tax into that depending on where you live. And you won’t be getting your old iPad back. You will either get a totally new unit, or one that has been turned in before as part of this program and refurbished. That means you will lose all your data if it has not been backed up somewhere. And since nobody has taken advantage of this program yet, Apple does not know how long it will take to get a replacement to you. It might depend on how long it takes for the batteries to start to degrade, and how popular the program eventually becomes.

Apple also does not say how long you can have owned your iPad and still be eligible for this service. Given that you are paying $105, the program might last forever. I’ll have to get an iPad and then see if I can turn it in 10 years from now.

This type of replacement program is nothing new. And although I’m wary of mentioning Microsoft and Apple in the same post, this reminds me of the replacement program that has been active for the Xbox 360 game console for years. If your Xbox 360 gets the “red ring of death”  you can ship it back to Microsoft (in a special box gamers call a coffin, which Microsoft will provide) and have it fixed. As with the iPad, you will likely get a refurbished model. The difference is that if, your 360 is under warranty, it’s totally free.

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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Reader Comments

Fri, Apr 2, 2010 CharlieBing

And so here we are, April 2, and a couple of reviewers of the actual iPad (as opposed to people who haven't even touched it but must still prognosticate) have discovered that yes, well, in fact this sucker does manage to get 10 hours out of its battery, even tough the guru said: "It just can’t happen." Well it did... as one reviewer said "the iPad played movies continuously from 7:30 a.m. to 7:53 p.m. - more than 12 hours." So, Mr. Breeden II, how's about you have the courtesy to eat some public humble pie and apologize. Or are you going to blame it on nuclear hamsters?

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 Billy

Great, so I have to pay $105 to get a new battery? An iPad, like a notebook, will become like a personal thing. I even plan to name mine -- Mappy. I don't want to lose Mappy. I might get another one named Crappy or something!

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 Mike Ball Utah

Two things. John says, "Apple does not know how long it will take to get a replacement to you." Apple does say how long it will take. "If you arrange service by calling Apple Technical Support, you can expect service to be completed within approximately one week from the time you send your iPad to Apple." This battery replacement policy is the exact same as the iPhone or iPod Touch. Which means, you can also take your iPad into an Apple store and they will swap it out right on the spot. John seems to understand the $99 fee is only after the warranty period is over, but the commenter ('geek') didn't grasp that. The standard warranty is 12 months, so Apple will replace your battery for free withing that period. If someone buys the extended warranty (AppleCare) their warranty (and battery) are covered for 2 years. The batter is designed to last at least 3-4 years, so most people won't need this service until 4-5 years from now. John does bring up a good question. How long will Apple stand by this replacement policy? 5 years? 10 years? I have a hard time believe Apple will even have 16GB versions of the iPad in 5 years. Does that mean they will replace my 16GB version with a 32GB or 64GB version when the battery needs to be replaced? Probably. I've heard of people with a defective MacBook Pro, and Apple ended up replacing it with the newer version. I'll gladly pay $99 in 5 years to swap my 5 year old iPad with a brand new one. Yes, I know it will probably have refurbished parts in it, but Apple refurbs always have a brand new enclosure, including glass.

Wed, Mar 17, 2010 geek

The small price is actually 40% of the cost of a Kindle. The small price is in addition to apple care? I guess it is a small price when you consider the cost of the I-Pad and then the communications package.

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