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Technology-LiveI am an iPhone repairman and right to repair activist. Let's talk batteries!

Jan 5th 2018 by kwiens • 17 Questions • 97 Points

I’m Ken Seeley and I’ve been involved professionally and personally in recovery since 1989. I’m honored to have the privilege to educate millions of people through the television show Intervention on AE since its 2nd season.

This season of Intervention premiering tonight, January 2nd at 9pm, is a special 8 part series. For the first time in series history, we follow interconnected stories of addicts and their families suffering at the hands of the national opioid crisis. Living in a cluster of communities within the affluent Atlanta suburbs known as the “Heroin Triangle,” the families chronicled highlight the desperate need for support and help during this national drug emergency. Each episode focuses on the journey of those plagued by their opioid addictions and their families who are left to pick up the pieces, as well as the city officials who are on the ground fighting as they attempt to intervene and save the lives of those affected while helping to heal the community. I’m joined by my fellow veteran interventionists Candy Finnigan and Donna Chavous. We’re partnering with interventionist and Georgia native, Heather Hayes, as well as new team member, Michael Gonzales. We’re attempting to help these victims of addiction as well as the community it’s impacting.

Watch this season’s trailer: https://youtu.be/cOabfikU2v8

Learn more about Intervention: http://www.aetv.com/shows/intervention

More about my expertise as an interventionist:

As an interventionist, I apply my experience to help transform the lives of those who suffer from the disease of addiction. I’ve changed the lives of thousands of people through my work performing interventions and working with families. I’m Certified Intervention Professional, Board Registered Interventionist Level II, Registered Addiction Specialist, and Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor. Today, I derive the greatest personal satisfaction from the hundreds of interventions I’ve conducted, organized, or facilitated through my private intervention service, Intervention 911. https://intervention911.com

Proof: https://i.redd.it/wuk0ksoq2p601.jpg

Q:

How many people do you think would have passed on upgrades if they had known that a new battery would solve some of their problems?

Also, much love to iFixIt, your guide helped me bring a dead MacBook back to life for an underprivileged college student.

A:

How effective are the interventions, and in your opinion does the presence of cameras and being shown on TV seem to help, hinder, or have no effect on the addict's willingness to work on breaking their addiction?


Q:

A lot. This is a catastrophe. There are so many people that have spent hard-earned money that they didn’t need to. A friend of mine bought a new iPhone 8 to replace her iPhone 7 because it was too slow. I thought she was crazy because the 7 should still be super fast, but our benchmarks show that Apple is slowing down phones with older batteries by 60%.

If your phone was only 40% as fast as it used to be, and a new model had just come out, wouldn’t you think pretty hard about getting a new one?

This is a shame, because all of the experts (myself included) have been defending Apple for years, saying that new operating systems aren’t specifically designed to slow down your phone. Now it turns out that this one was. And despite their best intentions, it’s caused a lot of people to upgrade prematurely.

I’m seeing analysts speculating that battery replacements could cut iPhone sales by millions of units this year. Apple's battery confession has finally clued everyone in that they don’t need to upgrade their phone until their device goes completely kaput.

Good on ya for resurrecting your dead MacBook. What did you have to fix?

A:

80-90% of people involved in interventions go to rehab the day of, so pretty successful. It depends on how strong the family in order for the addict is to stay in treatment and stay sober after treatment.


Q:

Her story was pretty fascinating without knowing a lot about MacBooks.

Her trackpad was randomly moving the cursor when she wasn't touching it and right-clicks weren't registering properly, she was frustrated to the point of doing all her assignments at the local library. She didn't have the money to take it to an Apple store and the warranty was long expired.

Being as curious as I was, I asked if I could take a crack at fixing it, because even if something didn't go according to plan, I had the means of getting her a new laptop, which she was fine with, so long as she had her data backed up.

A little googling and two iFixIt tutorials later, shipping in-between, she had a new trackpad and a new battery. Her problems were a result of battery bloat. She was very grateful and I got to have my first experience repairing a MacBook Pro. Good times.

A:

Is “sober January” where people who don’t necessarily have alcohol issues take off drinking for one month, a good idea?


Q:

It's always the battery! Great job.

I've seen that impact the click calibration on the MacBook, too. There's a screw that sets how far the trackpad clicks, and you can sometimes adjust it to repair a trackpad without having to replace anything.

A:

I think if there’s a question that you need to take off a month, there may be an issue with alcoholism. Most normies don’t take a month off from drinking, or even come into their awareness to take off a month of drinking.


Q:

Is there a good table showing what battery health percentages trigger which level of throttling? I've looked at my family's devices in coconut battery, but it's not clear which ones need replacing to avoid throttling.

Love your tools by the way - I'm a happy customer!

A:

Hello Ken. Just wanted to let you know how much you've inspired me to follow the career path I am currently on. I will soon be obtaining my LADC and my LPCC and largely have the show Intervention to thank for raising my interest.

My question for you is about the families of those undergoing the intervention. How do you/the production team work with families to provide a basic education about addiction? There have been many episodes where the family is so codependent and/or uninformed about addiction, and I'm wondering how the family education plays into your role on the show. Thanks for everything you do!


Q:

We did some benchmarking.

It has to do with your phone's current charge, as well. They throttle you more as the battery depletes.

The best indicator of battery health that I've found is cycle count. Figure you're time for a new battery at 500 charge cycles.

Unfortunately, Apple bans apps from the app store that report on your battery health with this level of granularity. So you need to download CoconutBattery (free) on your Mac and plug in your phone to check the cycle count. (Can someone suggest a PC tool that does this?)

A:

That’s part of the pre-intervention. We spend anywhere from 4-8 hours with the family helping them see that co-dependency kills more addicts than the addiction itself.


Q:

Hi kwiens,

Thanks very much for taking the time to do this AMA, and for all your hard work at iFixit!

I own an aging iPhone 5 that I'm planning on giving to a friend soon; the phone was subject to the complementary battery replacement program several years back. I got the battery replaced through that program, but was seriously underwhelmed with the 'new' battery (which I later found out may have been refurbished or previously returned to Apple). Its charge never held particularly well, and battery life has always averaged just a few hours of usage (any type) since a couple of months after the replacement. (The replacement was only warrantied for like 60 or 90 days, if memory serves.)

And now, the phone will completely shut off without any warning when the remaining battery is as high as 30%. I don't use bluetooth, location services or other high-drain apps or functions, just wifi for basic services and occasionally the LTE network when I'm away from home. I understand the battery is probably on its last legs, but it seems to last fairly long in standby and I can make a call for about an hour before it craps out, so it's obviously still got some juice.

So first question, is there anything I can do to predict and/or prevent these random shutdowns, besides replacing the battery? Neither my friend nor I have a lot of money to spend on our phones at the moment.

And second, when one of us does replace the battery, is there any issue replacing it with a higher capacity (mAh) unit, assuming it fits in the same/similar form factor?

A:

Throughout your years what have you come to realize is the hardest part of this job? Are there any specific moments or people that always stick with you?


Q:

You're welcome /u/_Deep_Thought! Thanks for listening to me rant.

I got the battery replaced through that program, but was seriously underwhelmed with the 'new' battery (which I later found out may have been refurbished or previously returned to Apple)

It sounds like this battery has run its course. If it was refurbished when you got it, and you've been using the phone for several years it's just not capable of the power delivery of a new battery.

is there anything I can do to predict and/or prevent these random shutdowns

The random shutdowns occur when the phone pulls more current that the battery can safely deliver. This happens when launching apps, taking photos using flash, and other power-intensive operations, so avoiding those as best you can is a safe bet.

Additionally, upgrading to the latest iOS version should prevent the shutdowns, but it could cripple your phone due to the performance throttling.

And second, when one of us does replace the battery, is there any issue replacing it with a higher capacity (mAh) unit, assuming it fits in the same/similar form factor?

I don't recommend this at all. You want to use replacement parts made to OEM specifications. Any battery that has greater capacity at the same form factor will have a higher charge density. This is a dangerous recipe for an explosion, and was one of the principle causes of the Note7 fiasco.

A:

The hardest part of my job is helping families understand that they have a problem. If they change their behavior they can get a different result from their loved one. Most families believe it’s the addict that has the problem, and don’t want to look inside.

I have many moments and people that stick with me. The ones that stick with me the most are the successful ones that that have years of recovery like someone who I intervened just celebrated 11 years sobriety.


Q:

Should we be worried if we buy a (fairly) cheap battery online? Is there risk of explosion like Samsung's?

A:

It seems to me, from watching the show in the past and other anecdotal information, that opioid addicts often relapse within hours of leaving rehab. It's almost as if they never even tried/committed. Are these addicts more resistant to the idea of getting sober than other addicts?


Q:

Kinda. On the one hand, the manufacturers won’t sell you an OEM battery directly, so you have to get a third party battery. On the other hand, there are some pretty sketchy suppliers out there.

There's two things you need to keep in mind when it comes to lithium batteries:

  1. They store a lot of energy and have the potential to be dangerous.
  2. They're highly prolific in today's devices.

Most batteries in your consumer electronics are safe. However, poorly manufactured ones can be hazardous, and people looking to make a quick buck online might sell units that fail QA.

I'd recommend buying batteries from well-known, established retailers who offer warranties and rigid quality assurance. Like this one :)

One other thing: I'm a huge Amazon fan, and I have been for a long time. But unfortunately they do a really bad job with service parts because of how they let multiple sellers sell on the same listing. If 20 different people are selling a DVD of Shawshank Redemption (which is very likely the best movie of all time), you're probably fine getting it from any of them. But if 20 different vendors are selling iPhone batteries, they're probably not all the same. But Amazon lumps reviews from all sellers together on the same product, so the reviews don't tell you anything about the part you're going to be getting.

A:

No, I think that it’s just that it’s really hard to get sober and they’re living in a bubble in treatment. Without follow up and accountability and someone helping them and supporting them it’s almost impossible to stay sober. That’s why it’s so hard to stay sober. Thankfully there’s more support now to help people stay sober with after care.


Q:

Hi,

I replaced the battery of my Iphone 5s. However, now I have a black screen and no button works anymore. When I connect my phone to my pc I hear the USB sound and File Explorer shows my Iphone but the screen on my phone stays black. Also when I change back to the original battery I have the same problem now. What can I do?

A:

Are the interventionists chosen by producers to be the best match for the patient, or is it more based on logistics?


Q:

I've run into similar issues before, and the problem probably isn't your battery.

To test this theory, plug your iPhone into your computer and see if iTunes recognizes it. If so, great! The issue is most related directly to the display!

Once you've confirmed that, the problem will most likely be one of three things:

  1. The backlight filter is blown. You can diagnose this by powering your phone on and holding a light to the display. If you see the apple logo appear faintly, the backlight filter is blown. That repair requires a board-level repair and may not be worth it given the value of the phone.

  2. Your display cables are damaged. Hopefully this is your issue, as it is easy to fix: just get a new display.

  3. The display connectors on the logic board are damaged. This is a little harder to diagnose, and the best advice I can give you is to look really closely at the connectors for signs of damage. If they are damaged, you'll need to send it to a repair professional for some surgery.

A:

Each one is picked by the producers after getting to know the family and getting information about the addict.

EDIT; It’s like picking the treatment center, knowing the family and the addict, which treatment center and interventionist would be best for that family system.


Q:

An error message pops up in ITunes: it can't connect to the Phone because a PIN has to be entered on the Phone.

A:

When do the people being intervened on have to consent? Doesn't an intervention need to be a surprise to some level?


Q:

Okay, that's good. It means your phone is alive and (mostly) well. Try the flashlight test next to see if this is a backlight issue. You can ensure you're powering on the iPhone by performing a hard reset, then continuing to hold the power button.

A:

The advice I would give them is to do an intervention, because there's always a reason we can find to get them help.


Q:

Do you believe Apple was using the battery slowdowns in part because of planned obsolescence?

A:

Has anything funny (appropriate or not) happened during an intervention? Or is the tone usually too heavy for anything like that?


Q:

Yes, but not for the reasons most people think.

From a technical perspective the CPU throttling is a mechanism to prevent random shutdowns, which was a serious issue affecting iPhone 6s users.

Here's why that happened in the first place: As batteries age, their internal resistance increases. This means that drawing a given amount of current from an old battery will generate more heat than drawing the same amount of current from a new battery. This heat can damage the internal structure of the battery further, or in a catastrophic failure, result in a thermal runaway.

Apple instituted CPU throttling to prevent the phone from drawing too much current during peak usage, which could cause the battery to get dangerously hot, or automatically cut out entirely due to the over-current protection circuit on the battery.

That being said Apple should have been transparent about this. I think it's shameful that it required third-party analysis and the threat of a lawsuit for them to publicly reveal the throttling mechanism. Millions of folks have purchased new phones due to performance issues when they could have replaced the battery instead. This was surely intentional and a clear example of planned obsolescence.

tl;dr: The engineering was valid. The secrecy, and their refusal to sell batteries directly to the public, is textbook planned obsolescence.

A:

No, I think the situations are always so heavy that there’s nothing funny by the time they need an intervention.


Q:

Even with the new batteries, do you think Apple will continue to slow down phones?

A:

What helped you most in your recovery?


Q:

Now that their cover's blown they probably will have a tough time limiting performance based on device age, but phycological obsolescence is at the very core of Apple's sales and marketing strategies. There are many ways to deliberately reduce the usability of a device over time and I expect Apple will continue to employ such tactics, albeit in a different form.

A:

For me it’s knowing that recovery is a process, and even though I have over 28 years sober, I still have to work a program and do things myself. There is no destination, recovery is a process.


Q:

I have a question about my iPhone battery. I diy replaced it a year ago and my phone (iPhone 6) still got slow with the new update. Does Apple software not recognize diy replacements?

A:

What is different about the new season and What can we expect?


Q:

It's possible. It really depends on how much the battery has degraded, which varies from person to person. My iPhone 4S battery completely died after 11 months. Even when it was plugged in, the phone didn't have enough juice to power on. I put a new battery in it and was good as new.

As long as the batteries you use are made to OEM specifications, your iPhone software doesn't know the difference between a DIY replacement and a factory original battery. What's more likely happening is that the battery you installed last year has already racked up enough charge cycles for iOS to decide it needs CPU throttling. We rounded up some older iPhones around our office and did some in-house testing (DIY battery swapping) to see if new batteries make a substantial performance difference. They do!

Unfortunately, the definition of a "new" battery will vary based on charge cycles, temperature, and frequency of use. YMMV, and it sucks that Apple is not more transparent about the factors that play into it. In the meantime, you can confidently replace the battery in your phone and expect a moderate performance boost.

It's not crazy to swap your battery once a year.

A:

The new season is really exciting. We’re going into a community and showing people that there is a solution in communities. We’re helping communities along with law enforcement, elected officials, and people that lost loved ones and working as a treatment team.


Q:

When replacing the battery will Apple replace the waterproof seal on my 7?

A:

Which drug's addiction carries with it the worst side effects? (As in, what is the overall worst drug to be addicted to in how it affects your day to day life).


Q:

Yes, Apple replaces the exterior gasket. Our DIY kit also includes this gasket.

It's very likely that after a few months of using a waterproof phone, the waterproof membrane develops flaws. The waterproofing techniques that manufacturers use are not particularly robust, and if you drop your phone you're just as likely to break the waterproof seal as to crack the screen.

Opening it up and replacing the gaskets at the same time that you replace your battery may actually be a good maintenance technique. We haven't done exhaustive testing on this—it's just a gut feel. But it's something that I'd like to investigate further.

A:

I think the worst ones to detox from are Suboxone and Methadone they have the most painful detox physically.


Q:

Are there battery charging habits that will keep our batteries healthy longer? Particularly phones and laptops.

A:

Do you think the United States can overcome this opioid crisis?


Q:

Nope! Lithium batteries are pretty forgiving.

If you're storing it long-term, don't leave it fully charged or discharged — 70% is a good rule of thumb.

Batteries don't do great in super cold or hot conditions.

Aside from that, battery life is pretty correlated to usage. Just like tires, they wear out over time. Enjoy your wireless freedom and plan to replace it every so often.

A:

Yes, I think if we follow the doctor diversion programs that have an 85% success rate, with aftercare, we could make a huge change.


Q:

Is there a reputable source for guides to repairing and rebuilding tool battery packs? Do you see iFixit going down this avenue?

A:

Love the show and the amazing results it seems to produce! Are you close with the other interventionists? Any memorable experiences with Jeff/Candy/etc? Thanks!


Q:

Yehu Garcia is a good friend and an incredibly knowledgeable resource on building packs.

Synonyk is the best that I've found specifically on rebuilding tool battery packs.

A:

Yes! I love seeing them and Donna as well. As you can see we run into each other at different events. Candi and I just did a video together that we posted on the Intervention Facebook page.


Q:

From my own practical experience this sounds like there was a short somewhere in the phone, bhe battery was probably fine. I've seen some shorts in displays even when they had no apparent damage.

A:

Love the show!! So many people are struggling with addiction you help so many. What made you want to be an interventionist?


Q:

Yes, I agree. If you could have opened the phone up and taken a thermal image of it, the hot point probably would have been very obvious. It would be relatively straightforward for a shop with a microsoldering setup to repair the circuit board.

It was probably beyond the realm of something that a DIYer could have handled (short of replacing the main board). Sounds like you came out of it all right. Hopefully the insurance company refurbished the phone after they got it back.

A:

I think, after watching families suffer and be in so much pain after someone dies, it really motivated me to help because the addict is high and doesn’t realize the pain their causing.


Q:

Is it hard to replace a screen on an iPhone six plus ?

A:

What's your favourite food? ;D


Q:

Nope! We've got a handy iPhone 6 Plus screen fix tutorial right here.

If you can follow instructions, you can do it.

A:

All food! I have a food addiction. I switched my addiction to food addiction and finally addressed that this year. I love all foods.


Q:

It seems like many of the addicts that you help are "surprised" when the intervention actually happens. Are they aware from the beginning that they will be on a show called "intervention?"

A:

No, they have no idea that they’re on the show Intervention. If they do we shutdown production. They have agreed to be filmed and are approved by a doctor.


Q:

What does it mean that this seasons participants are “interconnected”?

A:

Normally, we fly all over the country and intervene on individuals, but this season they will be all connected by living in the same community.