Apple to give researchers special iPhones to up its security

Sheri Evans
August 10, 2019

Now, users everywhere are dreading the thought of standing in line and paying for repairs at the Apple Store or other authorized dealers.

Instead of a battery diagnostic page which details health and whether the battery needs to be replaced, altered phones display a "Service" message. Apple uses its own version of this chip, but practically all smartphone batteries have some version of the same feature. Health information not available for this battery. This suggests Apple and its Authorized Service Providers have access to a software tool that ensures the Service message is cleared when they install a new battery.

So far, this has been seen only on the Apple iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. That's just an annoyance from Apple's new iPhone battery-verification process.

".this is a huge problem for iPhone owners who may not know about this new, sneaky lockdown, and it will undoubtedly cause confusion: they'll replace their own battery and notice the "Service" message, then begin troubleshooting a problem that isn't there."

iFixit wrote that Apple also appears to have blocked most iOS apps from accessing battery health statistics dating back to iOS 10, but the issue can be circumvented by plugging an iPhone into a Mac computer running an app like coconutBattery. In the end, this is just another play to ensure as many repairs as possible go through Apple and no one else, and it serves as a another good argument for why Right to fix legislation is in the best interests of consumers. It's also perhaps not the best public relations move given that another Apple controversy involving performance throttling of iPhones with older batteries is quite fresh in its customers' memory.

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The updated bug bounty program could help convince more security researchers to report vulnerabilities to Apple. In Apple's newer iPhones, that microcontroller reportedly has an authentication feature that enables it to pair with the device.

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Apple has always been making repairs hard for people outside of the Apple ecosystem.

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