Bottom line: Apple appears to be relaxing its strict repair policies. It will now allow repairs on iPhones even if they have batteries not certified by Apple. Furthermore it will also allow techs (at their discretion) to do full-device replacements for battery issues even if the user botched their DIY repair.
Apple has had a long-standing policy stipulating that if an iPhone had been repaired by a third-party or by the customer, it would not perform repairs on them whether they were still under warranty or not. Meaning that if, for example, you used iFixit’s DIY battery replacement kit it started selling after the iPhone battery debacle, you could forget about Apple repairing anything else on your phone.
This policy may be changing according to internal documents obtained by MacRumors. The memos instruct in-store Genius Bar technicians and Apple Authorized Service Providers that they may make repairs to iPhones even if they are discovered to have third-party batteries.
Repairs unrelated to the battery such as display or logic board servicing can proceed as usual. For battery repairs, technicians are allowed to swap batteries with Apple certified replacements at the standard fee.
iFixit's director of communications Kay-Kay Clapp commented on the policy change.
"This decision proves that now, more than ever, the third-party repair ecosystem is an integral part of maintaining Apple's high-quality customer experience. If Apple is getting enough third-party repaired phones for a policy change, they clearly don't have the reach or capacity to maintain all the iPhones that they've sold. All of us, including Apple, benefit from the service provided by the repair community."
The standard battery replacement fee used to be $79. After the throttling controversy, Apple temporarily reduced that charge to $29. However, that special pricing ended on January 1, 2019. Fortunately, Apple reintroduced a lower standard rate of $49 for all phones except for the iPhone X, which will be $69.
The documents also say that techs will be permitted to do a full device replacement for the cost of a battery repair if the battery tabs are broken, missing, or have excessive adhesive. Device replacements like this are in line with previous repair policies. Depending on the problem, Apple will replace customer phones with a refurbished model for a range of relatively minor issues.
Apple has not commented on the policy update, but with continued pressure from the Right to Repair movement, the company might be preparing for potential R2R legislation by adopting a more user-friendly repair policy.