Apple has revealed some of its iPhone 5 devices have defective batteries, which may mean they suddenly have a shorter life.

Apple has launched a battery replacement programme for a batch of phones sold between September 2012 and January 2013. You can check if your phone is in the affected batch by entering its serial number here.

Consumer NZ asked Apple’s Australia-based public relations manager about how the replacement programme would be carried out here, but he refused to answer and directed us to the company’s website.

The website states the replacement process will be available here from August 29 and advises people to contact Apple or one of three NZ wireless carriers – Vodafone, Spark or 2 Degrees.

Consumer’s advisor Maggie Edwards said Apple’s acknowledgment that the battery was not of acceptable quality gave Kiwis the right under the Consumer Guarantees Act to bypass Apple and return to the store they bought it and expect a refund, replacement or repair. Any replacement should be a new phone and not a refurbished model, she said.

Our technology writer Hadyn Green said consumers should be aware they may not get their original phone back if they opt to use Apple’s battery replacement service, given the instructions on Apple’s website are to back up your data and erase all content and settings in preparation for battery replacement.

Maggie also said consumers should ignore Apple’s instructions to have a cracked screen fixed before seeking a replacement. “Under the Consumer Guarantees Act, if a broken screen doesn’t affect the working of the phone battery or cause the phone battery to fail, then you don’t have to have the screen repaired first,” she said.

“These phones are less than two years old. You don’t expect to pay $1000 for a phone that needs the battery replacing in that time.”