Buy a battery, get an iPad free

Apple is so determined that its users shouldn’t touch its batteries that it’s promising a free replacement iPad to anyone whose machine won’t hold a charge.

The service costs $99, plus $7 shipping. It can be set up over the phone or in person at an Apple store, with a week-long turnaround for a phoned-in request. Users will need to back up their data, as Apple won’t transfer it.

The offer only applies if the machine is in otherwise good condition, so there’s no way for people to use it as a convenient fix for their own carelessness.

. “Your iPad is not eligible for Battery Replacement Service if the product has been damaged, for example, as result of an accident, liquid contact, disassembly, unauthorized service or unauthorized modifications, or if the product is not operating correctly as a result of a component failure,” says Apple.

Apple’s been getting more and more protective about its batteries, with the iPhone and MacBook Pro batteries similarly out of bounds to users. While Apple does attempt to fix MacBook Pros with dodgy batteries, it uses a similar whole-device replacement system for the iPhone.

Apple has also announced pricing for a 3G monthly contract for the iPad with AT&T: $15 a month for 250MB of data or $30 for an unlimited amount.