Apple retail stores are struggling to handle a surge of customers looking to reinvigorate their iPhones with a special battery replacement procedure.
Apple sharply reduced the price for a fresh battery following the revelation that it was purposely slowing performance of iPhones with older batteries. In the weeks since then, a never-ending parade of iPhone-bearing customers has swept through Apple shops, throwing chaos into the company’s pristine, carefully orchestrated shopping experience.
At some stores, wait times to see a technician, or what Apple calls a “Genius,” can take hours. Many stores have set up triage-like systems, with dedicated stations or tables devoted to helping people who want a battery replacement.
The unprecedented increase in visitors has left Apple stores without replacement batteries in stock. Instead of replacing the battery on the same day, stores must order batteries and contact customers when they arrive, usually about a week later.
Even worse, Apple store employees say, many of the replacement batteries are going to users who don’t actually need a new battery, and for whom a battery replacement will not speed up their old iPhone.
Some customers don’t believe they don’t need a new battery
“I would say less than 10% of the phones we have ordered batteries for actually need a battery, based on diagnostics,” a Genius at a Midwestern Apple store told Business Insider.
“I feel bad for the people that actually need batteries and have to wait because people think that Apple is having a ‘sale’ on batteries,” the staffer continued.
Apple technicians run a battery diagnostic test to see how “aged” the battery is before replacing it — it measures how many cycles the battery has been through and how much of its original capacity is left.
But as Apple technicians inform customers that their battery seems to be fine, based on the test, many customers are interpreting it as a subtle discouragement from replacing their battery, and are requesting the swap anyway.
Most replacement batteries arrive in a week or so, according to Apple store employees and customers Business Insider spoke to. But there is a known short supply of iPhone 6 Plus batteries, says one Apple store employee.
iPhone 6 Plus batteries won’t be delivered until March or April, because the phone is no longer being manufactured, according an internal memo first seen by MacRumors. There is also a two-week wait for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus replacement batteries, according to the memo. “Initial supplies of some replacement batteries may be limited,” an Apple representative told Business Insider in late December.