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

Apple has a program to give users refurbished iPads when the batteries fail.

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.

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