How can I find out if my broken Apple products qualify for a free repair, or are part of a replacement programme?

If your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, Apple TV or other Apple product has gone wrong and you don't think it's your fault, you may be able to get Apple (or a company authorised by Apple) to repair it for free, provide a replacement product, or refund your money. You can attempt this on an individual, case-by-case basis - read our guide to your legal rights when getting an iPhone repaired for advice - but in some cases Apple institutes a general recall or free repair programme for a particular product or model that it acknowledges has a congenital problem.

From time to time Apple acknowledges that there is a problem with one of its product lines and announces that it will replace such products for free. In this article we cover Apple's current (and past) replacement programmes: check to see if your faulty device is included. You might be in line for a free replacement.

To find out if you and your dodgy device qualify for such a programme you can contact Apple, but that isn't always easy. As an alternative, we present our list of Apple's most recent recall programmes.

Updated, 3 December 2016, with details of how to check if you are eligible to participate in Apple's latest product recall: a battery replacement programme for the iPhone 6s

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes: Will Apple repair other products for free?

Sometimes, but don't depend on it.

Apple product recalls are an unusual occurrence. When it is prepared to admit that a problem is inherent to a product line or certain models within that line, Apple will agree to repair or replace these devices, and either announce this publicly (expecting you to get in touch yourself and seek redress) or in smaller cases contacting affected users proactively.

Apple did this with the iPhone 5, whose power button was prone to failure - your humble reporter went through this process and was able to get a new iPhone 5 at no cost, even though that iPhone went wrong in a completely different way several months down the line.

Apple has also instituted a programme for failing MacBook Pro models that faced an issue known as 'staingate', following a saga that caused distress and frustration for many of our readers.

But for most problems you'll need to approach Apple as an individual, and demonstrate that the issue was fundamental to the product rather than something that has developed over months and years of ownership. In those cases you will generally need to fall back on your warranty and insurance rights.

For more information on your legal rights and best options when getting an Apple product replaced, repaired or refunded, see Will Apple replace my broken iPhone for free? And we will list other Apple product recalls and free repair programmes in the rest of this article.

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes: iPhone repairs and recalls

Here are the product recalls Apple has announced for the iPhone.

iPhone 6s battery replacement for shutdown issue

In November 2016, Apple acknowledged that iPhone 6s handsets made in September and October last were faulty and prone to spontaneous and unexpected shutdowns; it says the issue is battery-related. The firm is therefore willing to offer a free replacement for the battery unit in affected models.

"Apple has determined that a very small number of iPhone 6s devices may unexpectedly shut down," the firm says in a statement. "This is not a safety issue and only affects devices within a limited serial number range that were manufactured between September and October 2015."

The announcement follows an investigation into reported shutdowns by the China Consumers Association.

How to find out if your iPhone qualifies for a replacement battery, and how to apply for the battery replacement

The recall applies to iPhone 6s models manufactured in September and October 2015, as explained above, but is restricted to handsets within a specified serial number range.

You can easily find out if your iPhone is eligible for the recall by visiting Apple's dedicated web page for the programme, and using the serial number checking tool. Open Settings > General > About on your iPhone; the Serial Number is listed as the 11th entry on this page. Type this into the field on Apple's web page and hit Submit to find out if your iPhone qualifies.

Apple repairs & recall programmes: Check serial number

9to5Mac offers a list of serial numbers that are eligible. If the fourth and fifth digits in the serial number are any of the following combinations, you should qualify.

  • Q3
  • Q4
  • Q5
  • Q6
  • Q7
  • Q8
  • Q9
  • QC
  • QD
  • QF
  • QG
  • QH
  • QJ

If you're not sure, we suggest you visit an Apple Retail Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider and have your device's serial number checked.

Your iPhone also needs to work to qualify for the replacement programme. And they'll check.

Reported delays

According to a Reddit user named 'broostenq', Apple's battery replacement programme isn't proceeding as quickly as hoped, possibly as a result of subscribers to the programme exceeding expectations.

"I visited a flagship Apple Store this afternoon and was told by the Genius I would have to wait around 2 weeks for a replacement battery since most stores don't have any in stock, even though I signed up for an appointment the day the program was announced," broostenq writes.

"Was disappointing to be sent away with a defective battery when the problem affects me frequently and that Apple didn't anticipate the demand for batteries to fix "a very small number" of phones (in their words.)"

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes

iPhone 5 battery replacement programme

Apple is offering a second replacement program for iPhone 5 users. This time it's the phone's battery that's giving users headaches. Apple says that a "very small percentage of iPhone 5 devices" may be experiencing poor battery life, requiring users to charge the device more frequently. We actually found that three out of six iPhone 5s we checked for eligibility in Apple's battery replacement program were eligible, so it seems like more than a "very small percentage" to us!

Affected devices were sold between September 2012 and January 2013, and are within a specific serial number range, Apple says. You can check your serial number on Apple's website to see if your phone qualifies for a free battery replacement. You'll find your serial number by going to Settings > General > About > Serial Number.

If you have an affected device, you'll have the choice to replace your battery free of charge at the Apple Store, an Apple authorised service provider or you can send it off to Apple Technical Support.

However, the catch is that if your iPhone 5 has a broken screen, cracked back or any other damage that may impair battery replacement is fixed, which Apple is unlikely to do for free (read on to find out more).

For those with battery woes but no option to get a replacement from Apple, check out our iPhone battery saving tips for help.

iPhone 6 Plus iSight camera replacement programme

Is your iPhone 6 Plus camera blurry? Back in August 2015, Apple launched an iPhone 6 Plus iSight camera replacement programme.

Ever since the iPhone 6 Plus was first released back in September 2014, there has been a small percentage of users complaining about blurry photos. The issues weren't present with iPhone 6 users, which leads us to believe the fault is in fact with the optical image stabilisation feature. The feature is said to utilise the A8 chip, gyroscope and the M8 motion coprocessor in the iPhone 6 Plus to stabilise photos, measuring motion data to provide lens movement that compensates for shakiness.

In August this year, Apple admitted that a small number of iPhone 6 Plus cameras were defective, causing the cameras to constantly take blurry photos. Apple has said on its iSight Camera Replacement Program website: "Apple has determined that, in a small percentage of iPhone 6 Plus devices, the iSight camera has a component that may fail causing your photos to look blurry. The affected units fall into a limited serial number range and were sold primarily between September 2014 and January 2015."

The company goes on to note that if your iPhone 6 Plus is taking blurry photos and falls into the eligible serial number range, Apple will replace the camera free of charge.

So, how do you check if you're eligible? All you need to do is head over to the iSight Camera Replacement Program website and input your iPhone's serial number. You can access your iPhone's serial number by heading into the Settings app and tapping General. You should see your serial number - tap and hold it to copy it, then paste it into Apple's Replacement Program website.

However, if you're not eligible but still try to get your camera replaced, Apple will know. Apple will examine your iPhone 6 Plus at either an Apple Store or an Apple Authorised Service Provider to verify the handsets eligibility for the program before agreeing to repair it. It's also recommended that before you send your iPhone in to be repaired, you back it up either via iTunes or iCloud. The replacement iSight camera will be covered by an extended three-year warranty from the date of the original iPhone sale, however this doesn’t effect the standard iPhone 6 Plus warranty coverage.

The most important thing to note: Apple has stated that if your iPhone 6 Plus has damage (like a cracked screen) that impairs the camera replacement, you'll have to fix the issue beforehand.

iPhone 5 power button replacement programme

In April, Apple confirmed that some iPhone 5 smartphones have defective power buttons and is offering a free replacement.

"Apple has determined that the sleep/wake button mechanism on a small percentage of iPhone 5 models may stop working or work intermittently," Apple said in an online support document.

You can find out whether your iPhone 5 is eligible here.

If you've got a broken lock button on your iPhone 5 or other iPhone model but are not eligible for the replacement program, you can find out how to use the handy lock button workaround here.

Here's how to reset and restore a frozen iPhone.

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes: MacBook Pro repairs and recalls

Here are the product recalls Apple has announced for the MacBook Pro.

2011 MacBook Pros with video issues (Feb 2015)

One of the longest-running sagas on MacBook has been the tale of the failing MacBook Pros.

We were hearing reports of this since as early as 2013, with many owners of 2011 models with AMD graphics suffering from system crashes and hardware problems that have been described as "critical". After a long wait, in early 2015 Apple finally announced a repair programme, and we've got all the details here: Widespread 2011 MacBook Pro graphics failures finally addressed by Apple repair programme

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes: Mac Pro repairs and recalls

Here are the product recalls Apple has announced for the Mac Pro.

Apple announces free repairs for Mac Pros with broken video cards

In February 2016 Apple announced a repair programme for certain models in its Mac Pro line, in response to a repeatedly reported issue with failing video cards.

The repair programme applies to late 2013 Mac Pros equipped with AMD FirePro D500 or D700 GPUs. If your Mac Pro is affected by the issue, you will have experienced any or all of the following symptoms: video problems (distorted picture or video refusing to play); your Mac shutting down or restarting spontaneously (or generally acting unreliably); freezing; failure to start up normally.

If you are affected by the problem and your Mac qualifies for the programme, you will be able to get it repaired for free, provided you do so by 30 May 2018. It's understood that Apple will simply replace the affected GPUs.

To see if your Mac Pro qualifies for the repair programme, contact Apple Support or speak to an employee at an Apple Store; if you are affected, however, it's believed that Apple will attempt to get in touch with you.

You will also be able to get your Mac Pro fixed by an Apple Authorized Service Provider, but check you are covered by the programme before commissioning any repair work.

Apple product recalls and free repair programmes: Accessories repairs and recalls

Here are the product recalls Apple has announced for its accessories.

Apple offers to replace faulty Mac and iPhone chargers

At the end of January 2016 Apple announced it would replace faulty chargers for Macs and iPhones.