Replacing a battery can be fraught with peril, at least for the iPad. Repair shops and experienced DIY-ers know this, and Apple seems to acknowledge it, usually giving customers seeking battery swaps a new iPad instead. Starting soon, with at least one model, Apple and its repair techs could start actually replacing an iPad’s battery instead of sending it into the refurbishment ether.
A report at MacRumors claims that Apple is issuing a new policy for the iPad mini 6 (i.e., the 2021 iPad mini), allowing repair centers (where devices are shipped for more in-depth service) to replace just the battery, rather than provide a Whole Unit Replacement (WUR) from existing or refurbished stock. MacRumors states that “other iPads may follow in the coming weeks and months,” without specifics.
Replacing the battery on an iPad requires removing the screen, and that’s tricky on almost all of them. Apple’s proprietary repair tools, sized to each device, may be easier to use than using hand tools at home. But there’s an unavoidable physics issue of having to apply strong suction or prying force to a long, wide, and thin display. The sixth-generation mini iPad, being the smallest of them, likely represents a device with the highest success rate of screen removal.
iPad repairs are so onerous that some non-Apple-licensed repair shops bundle the cost of a replacement screen into quotes for replacing a battery on larger iPads, like the iPad Pro, whether to avoid a tedious process or simply assume some breakage.
For customers, getting a replacement iPad could sometimes be a small blessing, as scratches, dents, or other defects not noticeable at a glance would be fixed by Apple’s supply chain. That’s set against the process of having to restore a full backup and sign into dozens or hundreds of apps again, simply because you needed a new battery.
Apple doesn’t currently offer its repair tools for iPads in its Self Service Repair Store. Apple typically charges $99, plus tax and about $7 shipping, to replace an iPad through mailing to a service center. iPad battery replacement while under AppleCare coverage may be covered, but only if the device’s Battery Health is below 80 percent or other battery issues can be demonstrated.