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In the wake of Apple dropping the price of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacements to $29, demand has become so high that the company is stretching its retail resources to cope — possibly even hiring outside contractors.
"Additional Apple employees are sometimes sent to high-volume stores, or allotted labor hours per-store are increased, to help with a surge of battery replacements," Apple sources not authorized to speak on behalf of the company told AppleInsider regarding reports that Apple needed help to deal with the volume of battery replacements.
Stores local to AppleInsider staffers aren't using any third-party contractors to perform the replacements.
In December, Apple was forced to admit that it changed iOS to throttle iPhones with weak batteries, officially for the sake of preventing sudden shutdowns. This generated significant backlash, including a barrage of lawsuits and investigations by the governments of Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, South Korea, and the U.S..
Simultaneously, Apple has reduced the cost of battery replacements through the end of 2018, and released iOS 11.3. The operating system upgrade includes battery monitoring functions — among them the ability to disable throttling except in extreme circumstances.
AppleInsider's sources may conflict with ones for 9to5Mac, who claim that Apple is using a mix of its own workers plus third-party contractors to handle the overflow of replacement requests. The latter are reportedly receiving training, but still causing "growing pains" in some shops.
By late February wait times were averaging 3 to 4.5 weeks. The average wait for devices that need to be checked in is still over a week according to queries made by AppleInsider, with owners of the iPhone 6 Plus having to bear the longest waits.