Wondering if your broken Apple product qualifies for a free repair, or is part of a replacement programme? You’ve come to the right place.
If your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV or other Apple product has gone wrong and you don’t think it’s your fault, you may be able to get Apple (or a company authorised by Apple) to repair it for free, provide a replacement product, or refund your money.
In some cases Apple institutes a general recall or free repair programme for a particular product or model that it acknowledges has a congenital problem. In this article we cover Apple’s current replacement and repair programmes: check to see if your faulty device is included. You might be in line for a free replacement or at least a free repair.
In the case of some iPhones purchased between October 2018 and August 2019 Apple has recognised a problem that could mean they can’t be turned on, and as a result it has started a free repair program for the handsets. This is the latest repair program to be offered by the company.
If your Apple product isn’t currently covered by a repair program read our guide to
your legal rights when getting an iPhone repaired. We have a separate article on the
Mac repair programes here, and more information about the
MacBook Keyboard program here.
Will Apple repair products for free?
From time to time Apple acknowledges that there is a problem with one of its lines and announces that it will replace such products for free. This happens sometimes, but don’t depend on it.
Apple product recalls are an unusual occurrence. When it is prepared to admit that a problem is inherent to a product line or certain models within that line, Apple will agree to repair or replace these devices, and either announce this publicly (expecting you to get in touch yourself and seek redress) or in smaller cases contacting affected users proactively.
Apple did this with the iPhone 5, whose power button was prone to failure – your humble reporter went through this process and was able to get a new iPhone 5 at no cost, even though that iPhone went wrong in a completely different way several months down the line.
The latest such repair program involves iPhones purchased between October 2018 and August 2019 that can’t be turned on. More details below.
It’s not just Apple’s iPhones that get allocated repair programs. Apple also instituted a programme for failing MacBook Pro models that faced an issue known as ‘
staingate‘, following a saga that caused distress and frustration for many of our readers. And the company has offered to replace keyboards for free on those Macs that are experiencing problems with the
But for most problems you’ll need to approach Apple as an individual, and demonstrate that the issue was fundamental to the product rather than something that has developed over months and years of ownership. In those cases you will generally need to fall back on your warranty and insurance rights.
For more information on your legal rights and best options when getting an Apple product replaced, repaired or refunded, see
Will Apple replace my broken iPhone for free? And we will list other Apple product recalls and free repair programmes in the rest of this article.
iPhone repairs and recalls
Below are details of some of the product recalls Apple has announced for the iPhone.
You will need to check your serial number on Apple’s website to see if your phone qualifies for one of these programs. You’ll find your serial number by going to Settings > General > About > Serial Number.
If you have an affected device, you’ll have the choice to take your device to an Apple Store, an Apple authorised service provider or you can send it off to Apple Technical Support.
However, the catch is that if your iPhone has a broken screen, cracked back or any other damage Apple may ask you to pay for that repair.
For those with battery woes but no option to get a replacement from Apple, check out our
iPhone battery saving tips for help.
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus free repair
Apple has launched a free repair program for some iPhones purchased between October 2018 and August 2019 that are affected by a fault that means they can’t be turned on.
Apple has a support page that details the “iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus Service Program for No Power Issues”
The company admits that it has determined that “certain iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices may not power on due to a component that may fail. This issue only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between October 2018 to August 2019.”
This means that only certain handsets purchased between those dates are affected, but if you believe you have experienced the issue with your iPhone 6S, you can run your serial number through Apple’s checker to see if your handset is eligible for free repair.
Apple’s program will cover affected iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus devices for the two years after the first retail sale of the unit. So, if you bought the handset in October 2018 you have until October 2020 to claim your free repair.
iPhone battery replacement program
At the end of 2016 Apple was found to have been deliberately slowing down older iPhones to preserve battery life and stop unexpected shutdowns.
Apple defended the action saying: “We have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.” However, to make ammends the company has offered to replace the batteries in older iPhones for just £25/$29.
How to find out if your iPhone qualifies
The following handsets might be affected: iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. You can check the status of the battery by going to Settings > Battery > Battery Health (Beta) where you can see information about overall battery health.
You can read about
Apple’s battery replacement scheme here.
iPhone 6S Unexpected battery shutdown issue
However, there are some iPhones that qualify to have their battery replaced for free.
In November 2016, Apple acknowledged that iPhone 6s handsets made in September and October 2015 were faulty and prone to spontaneous and unexpected shutdowns; it says the issue is battery-related. The firm is therefore willing to offer a free replacement for the battery unit in affected models. This is the iPhone 6s Program for Unexpected Shutdown Issues and you can find out more on Apple’s site
“Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down,” the firm said
in a statement. “This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015.”
The announcement follows an investigation into reported shutdowns by the
China Consumers Association.
In early December 2016 as noted by
USA Today, Apple’s
Chinese support page also acknowledged that ‘A small number of customers outside of the affected range have also reported an unexpected shutdown’. Apple continues to offer exchanges for the affected models.
Note this is different to Apple’s replacement of batteries for £25/$29 following the revelation in January 2018 that the company has been slowing down some iPhone models that might have suffered from unexpected shutdowns. You can read all about that scheme here:
How to get an iPhone battery replaced.
How to find out if your iPhone qualifies
The recall applies to iPhone 6s models manufactured in September and October 2015, as explained above, but is restricted to handsets within a specified serial number range.
You can easily find out if your iPhone is eligible for the recall by visiting
Apple’s dedicated web page for the programme, and using the serial number checking tool. Open Settings > General > About on your iPhone; the Serial Number is listed as the 11th entry on this page. Type this into the field on Apple’s web page and hit Submit to find out if your iPhone qualifies.
9to5Mac offers a list of serial numbers that are eligible. If the fourth and fifth digits in the serial number are any of the following combinations, you should qualify.
- Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, Q7, Q8, Q9
- QC, QD, QF, QG, QH, QJ
If you’re not sure, we suggest you visit an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider and have your device’s serial number checked.
Your iPhone also needs to work to qualify for the replacement programme. And they’ll check.
iPhone 6 Plus Multi-Touch Issue (aka Touch Disease)
Arguably one of Apple’s most scandalous product faults of recent years, what Apple calls the iPhone 6 Plus
Multi-Touch Repair Program (info here) first hit the headlines in August 2016. iFixIt initially identified it and called it Touch Disease, although it had been well known within the third-party Apple repair community for some time.
You’ll know if you’re affected because the iPhone 6 Plus’ display will periodically be affected by a small flickering grey bar at the top of the screen. It’s about the height of the iOS menu bar and looks a bit like old-school TV static, or may look like a series of short bars (that is, crenellated). Additionally – or alternatively – the screen may become completely unresponsive to touch.
Apple eventually took note and issued a recall in November 2016 but gallingly for those affected the repair isn’t free. Apple simply acknowledged the problem and requested £146.44 to get rid of the problem. However, the iPhone must not be damaged and must be in working order. The recall programme is set to end in September 2019, five years after the iPhone 6 Plus first went on sale.
Apple claims users cause the iPhone 6 Plus issue by dropping the phone on a hard surface and then make the issue worse by “incurring further stress on the device” – although they don’t go into details as to how.
What to do if you’re affected
If you’re affected by this issue then you can either pay for Apple or one of
its authorised service centres to make the repair, or visit an independent Apple repair shop to have the work done. The latter will be significantly cheaper but there’s no guarantee of quality and you will probably invalidate any warranty you might have (such as one offered by a retailer if you bought the phone used). Nonetheless we found a handful of vendors on eBay offering postal repairs, starting from £70 – just search for “touch disease”.
Notably, if you had already paid Apple to make the repair prior to their announcing the recall programme in November 2016 then Apple will pay you an amount “equal the difference between the price you paid for the original service to your iPhone 6 Plus and the £ 146.44 service price”. In simple terms, if you paid
the standard £306.44 repair cost to Apple to fix the issue then they’ll give you back £160. To make a claim if you haven’t already, contact Apple. Remember, however, that this only covers Apple-authorised repairs and not unauthorised, third-party repairs.
iPhone 6 Plus iSight camera replacement programme
Is your iPhone 6 Plus camera blurry? Back in August 2015, Apple launched an iPhone 6 Plus iSight camera replacement programme.
Ever since the
iPhone 6 Plus was first released back in September 2014, there has been a small percentage of users complaining about blurry photos. The issues weren’t present with iPhone 6 users, which leads us to believe the fault is in fact with the optical image stabilisation feature. The feature is said to utilise the A8 chip, gyroscope and the M8 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 6 Plus to stabilise photos, measuring motion data to provide lens movement that compensates for shakiness.
In August this year, Apple admitted that a small number of iPhone 6 Plus cameras were defective, causing the cameras to constantly take blurry photos. Apple has said on its
iSight Camera Replacement Program website: “Apple has determined that, in a small percentage of iPhone 6 Plus devices, the iSight camera has a component that may fail causing your photos to look blurry. The affected units fall into a limited serial number range and were sold primarily between September 2014 and January 2015.”
The company goes on to note that if your iPhone 6 Plus is taking blurry photos and falls into the eligible serial number range, Apple will replace the camera free of charge.
So, how do you check if you’re eligible? All you need to do is head over to the iSight Camera Replacement Program website and input your iPhone’s serial number. You can access your iPhone’s serial number by heading into the Settings app and tapping General. You should see your serial number – tap and hold it to copy it, then paste it into Apple’s Replacement Program website.
However, if you’re not eligible but still try to get your camera replaced, Apple will know. Apple will examine your iPhone 6 Plus at either an Apple Store or an Apple Authorised Service Provider to verify the handsets eligibility for the program before agreeing to repair it.
It’s also recommended that before you send your iPhone in to be repaired, you back it up either via iTunes or iCloud. The replacement iSight camera will be covered by an extended three-year warranty from the date of the original iPhone sale, however this doesn’t effect the standard iPhone 6 Plus warranty coverage.
The most important thing to note: Apple has stated that if your iPhone 6 Plus has damage (like a cracked screen) that impairs the camera replacement, you’ll have to fix the issue beforehand.
DISCONTINUED: iPhone 5 battery replacement programme
Apple also offered a battery replacement program for iPhone 5 users. Apple said that a “very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices” may be experiencing poor battery life, requiring users to charge the device more frequently. When we checked at the time the program was announced, we actually found that three out of six iPhone 5s we checked for eligibility in Apple’s battery replacement program were eligible, so it seems like more than a “very small percentage” to us!
Affected devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013, and are within a specific serial number range, Apple said. However, this program is no longer running since those phones are no longer supported by Apple.
DISCONTINUED: iPhone 5 power button replacement programme
Apple also confirmed that some iPhone 5 smartphones had a defective power buttons and offered a free replacement.
“Apple has determined that the sleep/wake button mechanism on a small percentage of iPhone 5 models may stop working or work intermittently,” Apple said in an online support document.
If you still have an iPhone 5, unfortunately Apple has stopped running the scheme. If you’ve got a broken lock button on your iPhone 5 or other iPhone model, you can find out how to use the
handy lock button workaround here.
Here’s how to reset and restore a frozen iPhone.
Accessories repairs and recalls
Here are the product recalls Apple has announced for its accessories.
Apple offers to replace faulty Mac and iPhone chargers
At the end of January 2016 Apple announced it would entirely free-of-charge
replace faulty wall plug adapters that were included with certain Macs and iPhones. Notably, this recall applies solely to the plug adapter that slots on to the main charger to enable it to attach to the likes of wall sockets. The main charger unit itself has no issues.
This recall does not affect UK users unless they bought their Apple hardware in one of the following areas of the world:
- France, Germany, Spain, Italy or other countries in continental Europe (that is, not the UK or Ireland)
- New Zealand
- South Korea
The issue is that the wall plug adapters break more easily than Apple would like and can thereby expose the users to risk of serious electrical shock.
Faulty plug adapters can be identified by the printed text inside the slot by which the adapter couples to the main charger. Faulty adapters have four or five printed characters – or no characters at all – in the slot area.
Adapters manufactured after the newer, safe redesign was rolled out have a 3-letter country code printed in the slot area, such as EUR, AUS, ARG, BRA, or AUS (in this instance New Zealand falls under the AUS code).
If you’re affected by this issue a free replacement adapter can be got via an Apple Store, or via the
web, where you’ll need to enter
your device’s serial number. You will need to supply Apple with the old, faulty adapter.
Apple USB-C charge cables recall
If you bought a MacBook before June 2015 then the USB-C cable Apple provided for charging purposes might be faulty. You’ll know this to be the case because either your MacBook won’t charge when you use the cable to connect to the charger, or it will only charge intermittently.
identified the issue in February 2016 but doesn’t list any potential danger to the user of the cable but if affected you should stop using the cable immediately because you might be damaging your MacBook.
Affected cables can be identified because they have the following text on them, without any serial number: “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.”
Any USB-C cables with the above text and that ALSO include a serial number straight afterwards are safe to use and not affected by the recall.
Weirdly, some users report seeing no text at all on their Apple-provided USB-C cables. If the cable meets the above criteria – it was made by Apple and supplied with a MacBook before June 2015 – then the best policy is to
contact Apple for advice.
What to do if you’re affected
Apple will replace the cable should you take it to an Apple Store Genius bar, or present the cable to an
authorised service provider, although you’ll probably need to provide proof of purchase. Notably, it doesn’t appear to be possible to replace the cable by post. You’ll need to provide Apple with
your serial number when you attempt to make the replacement – although it might just be easier just to take along your MacBook and let them find it for you. Additionally, if you purchased a replacement cable because of this fault then Apple might give you a refund – just
drop them a line.
Beats Pill XL speaker fire risk
In June 2015 Apple
announced an important recall of all models of the Beats Pill XL desktop speaker when it became evident the battery inside might overheat and even catch fire. This is literally a product recall because Apple/Beats removed the product from sale and upon receipt of the faulty speaker will refund £215 to anybody who purchased one – even if that wasn’t directly from Apple itself.
No time limit has been set on the recall, which raises an interesting prospect – should you stumble upon one in a second-hand shop or at a car boot sale then snap it up because it’s worth £215 once you send it off to Apple!
What to do if you’re affected
If you own a Beats Pill XL speaker then stop using it immediately and
visit Apple’s website to fill in the form. Apple will send you a prepaid postage box so you can return the speaker, and within three weeks will either credit your Apple Store account or make an electronic payment, depending on which you choose.
Please note that Apple does not permit you to return the speaker to an Apple Store, or to the retailer where it was purchased. This is solely a postal return programme.