Why iPhone 15 Batteries Are Now Rated for 1,000 Charge Cycles

The European Union strikes again.

The blue iPhone 15 Pro is more like a navy.
Photograph by Raymond Wong

When Apple released the iPhone 15 series last September, the phones came with a way to see their battery health — how many cycles their lithium-ion cells have been charged — within the Settings app.

Up until yesterday, Apple had maintained that its iPhone batteries “are designed to retain 80 percent of their original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles under ideal conditions.” But then Apple released iOS 17.4 beta yesterday, and suddenly the batteries in all iPhone 15 models can now retain 80 percent of their original capacity at 1,000 complete charge cycles.

How the heck did Apple magically double the health of its iPhone 15 batteries without changing anything about its physical chemistry? Apple tells Inverse that there’s no change in the hardware or software, only that the additional testing methods changed to meet the new 80 percent original capacity retention at 1,000 cycles.

The European Union Strikes Again

But why did Apple suddenly change its testing process? The answer is simple: the European Union. According to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm that proposes new legislation, the Ecodesign Regulation proposed in November 2022 requires all “batteries should withstand at least 800 cycles of charge and discharge while retaining at least 80% of their initial capacity.” The Ecodesign Regulation doesn’t go into effect until June 20, 2025, but Apple is getting ahead of the legislation and ensuring the batteries in all iPhone 15s (and future iPhones) exceed the EU’s required benchmarks.

The EU has been somewhat of a thorn in Apple’s rear the past few years. The international organization of 27 European countries forced Apple to adopt USB-C for its iPhone 15s and AirPods Pro 2. And last month, the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) took effect, which effectively allows third-party app stores and payment processing to be installed on iPhones, paving the way for the return of Epic’s Fortnite, which was removed from the Apple App Store in August 2020. The DMA also enables developers to create web browser apps using their own rendering engines as opposed to Apple’s WebKit, which powers Safari; EU users can also change their default browser away from Safari. Additionally, game streaming services, such as Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox xCloud, can now run as proper iOS apps instead of only working through a web browser.

However you feel about the European Union dictating hardware requirements or mandating software interoperability, one thing is certain: the increased battery rating is a win for consumers. Apple has always been somewhat conservative with its battery testing by perhaps putting them through a heavier load than most customers would. I don’t know what the EU’s battery testing process is like, but it appears that Apple has redone its iPhone 15 battery testing to surpass it.

There’s also another bright spot in the iOS 17.4 beta: the battery cycle is no longer tucked in Settings > General > About and shown under the Battery section. The battery cycle counter is now what it should have been from the start: Settings > Battery. That Apple hid the battery cycle counter never made any sense to me.

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