Apple Provides Special iPhone for Security Researchers and Extends Bug Bounty Program

Yolanda Curtis
August 13, 2019

Previously, this was an automatic feature in every iPhone, but following outrage from users, Apple began giving them the option to turn it off in iOS 11.3.

The change was first noticed by iFixit which announced the discovery by saying: "By activating a dormant software lock on their newest iPhones, Apple is effectively announcing a drastic new policy: only Apple batteries can go in iPhones, and only they can install them". That includes cycle count, which shows how much a battery may have degraded overtime, in addition to max capacity and peak performance capability.

Even using another Apple battery doesn't work, adds iFixit, as a replacement battery can only be authenticated using the company's private tools. But if you are a regular Joe and saw this after going to a third-party battery center, you will probably be very confused and angry that your iPhone is asking you to service your brand new battery.

The Service message is what Battery Health usually displays when there is some sort of problem with an iPhone's battery, including it being old and degraded.

Apple appears to be preventing third-party battery replacement on few iPhone models, meaning users can not replace the battery without any glitch forcing them to go to Apple authorised service providers only.

Justin points out that the chip - technically named Single-Cell Li-Ion Battery Fuel Gauge for Battery Pack Integration - has been there for a long time but it has never been used for this goal until very recently, when Apple chose to activate a feature to authenticate the batteries as both original parts and replaced by Apple official fix service. Apple uses an authentication feature that stores info that pairs the battery to the iPhone's logic board. A couple of years back, Apple faced massive backlash after it was discovered that Apple intentionally throttled older iPhones to preserve the battery life. At the time, to somewhat compensate for the battery debacle, Apple had to drastically reduce the cost of the battery replacement for a year.

The expanded program will be open to all security researchers.

Apple has always been making repairs hard for people outside of the Apple ecosystem. Still, with all this money at stake, regular iPhone owners should benefit from the incentives that Apple is throwing at security experts.

"This pattern of behavior proves, once again, that Apple is out to stop all repairs performed by anyone except Apple themselves", iFixit says.

Other reports by iNewsToday