CUPERTINO -- Some buyers of Apple's (AAPL) new top-of-the-line iPhone received a battery that cannot hold a charge due to a manufacturing defect, and the company plans to replace the faulty smartphones.

An Apple spokeswoman told The New York Times on Tuesday that "a limited number" of the new devices suffered from the defect, and the company is actively seeking them out.

"We recently discovered a manufacturing issue affecting a very limited number of iPhone 5S devices that could cause the battery to take longer to charge or result in reduced battery life," Apple spokeswoman Teresa Brewer told the Times. "We are reaching out to customers with affected phones and will provide them with a replacement phone."

While Apple would not estimate how many of the new phones suffer from the malady, the Times theorized that it was just a few thousand. Apple launched the iPhone 5S and 5C last month in the United States, China and several other countries, and sold 9 million smartphones on the opening weekend, with analysts reporting that the more expensive iPhone 5S was more popular in the U.S.

Apple has suffered manufacturing issues in newly launched iPhones in the past: When the iPhone 4 launched in 2010, calls could be dropped when users held the smartphone in a particular way, due to the design of the antenna; Apple eventually offered customers free cases that solved the problem.


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"When we fall short, we try harder," then-CEO and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said after the iPhone 4 controversy. "We pick ourselves up, we figure out what's wrong, and we try harder. And when we succeed, they reward us by staying users."

In addition, many users complained of scratches and scrapes on their iPhone 5 units after that model launched, and the company's Apple Maps effort that debuted on that phone was roundly criticized and led to an apology from CEO Tim Cook.

Battery life has been an issue for a number of Apple customers, with the Cupertino company's new mobile operating system, iOS 7, said to drain battery life faster, especially on older devices.

Apple shares gained $8.22, or 1.6 percent, to $524.90 Wednesday.

Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.