Apple Says Poor Performance In Ageing iPhones Is Part Of Delivering A Good User Experience 

After poor performance in older iPhones prompted an investigation by a number of Reddit users and additional testing by benchmark app maker Primate Labs, Apple has finally weighed in on the controversy surrounding its ageing handsets. The verdict? It seems the people were right.

In a statement made to Techcrunch, Apple said "Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components."

Basically, what Apple's software is doing is limiting the power draw of the iPhone's processor in order to prevent unexpected shut downs and help extend the life of an ageing battery. The main reason for this is because as lithium ion batteries get older, their ability to hold a charge diminishes, and sudden power draws can place a bigger burden on the battery than it can actually handle, resulting in the phone randomly turning off.

Apple's statement went on to say, "Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."

This second part confirms that updates to iOS were responsible for the CPU throttling, which was an effort to reduce bursts of power usage (like you would see when running a benchmark app), and is what caused the low scores that Reddit users and Primate Labs described when testing older phones. It seems all of this was a deliberate move on Apple's part, and that the company will continue to include these features in future devices as well.

Logically, this makes a lot of sense. However, it seems like it would behoove Apple to explain this behaviour to its users a little better, whether it's in the form a notification saying that "your phone's battery might need to be replaced," or at least a warning explaining why people's phones are suffering from diminished performance. That sad thing is that if phone batteries were easier to replace, a lot of these problems could be circumvented, or at least remedied without too much hassle.

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Comments

    Surely you jest when you say Apple (or other manufacturers pulling this stunt) should tell customers. That would cut into their profits from selling new phones which magically perform so much better than the old phone.....oh what a relief, this new phone is so much better than my old one. I was so justified to spend such a stupidly high amount of money.......I get why they are doing it, but it should be user selectable. This just smells sneaky and underhanded to generate sales.

      Agree. If you bought a car and the manufacturer said we limit your acceleration and speed every so often so over time your car goes slower. Would you still buy it ?

      Apple should invest in a better battery or it’s development. If I buy a product with certain specs, that’s what I should be able to use no matter what age. Taking into consideration natural wear and tear.

      Last edited 22/12/17 7:49 am

    Are Apple also using it as an excuse to push people to new Iphones by making older ones appear slower than they need to be?
    Especially since it took someone proving the issue to get Apple to admit of doing it.

    Last edited 21/12/17 9:06 pm

    Apple should actually the right thing here and offer free battery replacement for the life of the phone. I find it absolutely bullshit that every second year I’m forced to buy a new iPhone because my previous one kept crashing or slowing down.

      But how would they get you to buy a phone each year if they did that? haha

      Nobody, absolutely nobody, will offer free battery replacement for the "life" of the phone - because that "life" is hard to define. Alternatively, they could just define "life" as 2 years and you'd be right back where you started.

      It should be a toggle option (performance vs managing battery life) but Apple aren't under obligation to replace batteries that wear out due to normal usage.

        iirc Apple have publicly said what the lifespan of an iphone is when defending against repairing phones (for a lawsuit, they said 1 year) while also saying 3 years outside of it.

        Yeah 12 Months in some countries is common, here in Australia I think 24 months is more generally accepted given thats the length of a device on a plan generally and there's an obligation to support the device for that period. If the battery replacement is every second year then you probably aren't even going to see a replacement anyway using that as the benchmark.

        I'm not sure its reasonable to expect Apple to replace batteries free of charge irrespective unless there's a fault with the battery. The device outright failing and shutting down because it's drawing too much to me seems like such a circumstance though, particullarly within a 24 month period. Otherwise it's a component well known to have wear in any device that includes a battery and I think the more reasonable approach is potentially what Apple has implemented here ablite with some sort of notice to users that they may wish to replace the battery to improve performance.

      Apple (AU) did replace the battery of my (1.5 years old) iPhone 6s for free when I complaint about poor battery life.

        My 6s is just 2 years old, they said I’d need to pay for a new battery because they could see it had been through so many recharge cycles.

        I tried to explain that the reason it had so many recharge cycles is because I had to change it 4 times a day but no luck.

    Only apple would peddle bullshit like this.

    My phone usually runs fine up until about 2 months before the next iPhone release..
    Hmmm wonder why....

    Also, I found this happening on my Galaxy S5, and that battery was replaced, yet still it ran slow after about a year of use, so will be interesting to see if Samsung uses the same excuse.

      Samsung's just don't last as long, regardless of operating system.
      How many Samsung do you see that are as old as the iPhone 5s/iPhone 6 (2013/14 respectively)?

        Well I've seen one that worked fine but it hadn't been updated since release, so what does that tell you :/

        You do realise that an iPhone IS like 90% Samsung right?

    Makes sense to me to slow cpu to use less power on an ageing battery. The issue is that apple doesnt allow easily replaceable batteries. Which locks you into the cycle.

    I don’t think the negativity in this thread is justified.

    I bought my iPhone 6 in the first week after its release - say, late 2014. With its battery dying a slow death, I figured I could hold on until the release of the iPhone 8/X and just get a new phone - 3 years isn’t a bad run.

    I wasn’t impressed with the cost/benefit ratio of the new phones, so opted for a battery replacement instead. Apple quoted $120 to replace the battery, and I agreed. When inspecting the phone however, they found the screen was starting to pop from the chassis, which was caused by the battery swelling. “That’s not meant to happen” they said.

    They made a great offer: if I pay for the battery replacement ($120), they’ll give me a refurbished “as new” iPhone 6 which, by the way, “comes with a 2 year warranty of it’s own” starting that day.

    No “it’s a three-year-old phone, go away”.

    No attempt to make me pay for additional repairs to an out-of-warranty phone.

    No attempt to upsell to the shiny new iPhone 8 that was on display.

    If they scumbags as much as some people believe, I wouldn’t have had that kind of help.

      This is exactly right, Apple's customer service out-performs any other manufacturer.
      But people sit at home complaining about their phone instead of going into Apple or Online and getting help with it.

      Apple wants you to be happy, but they can't fix anything when the person doesn't tell them about it.

    Well this explains a lot. Kind of froze my phones battery this winter being a knob and riding my motorbike with it mounted to my handlebar. Went from 100% to dead very quickly. My battery life went to crap, followed by my battery life slightly improving and my phone becoming slow.

    Guess it needs a new battery......

    Has Apple said what happens if you get your battery replaced with a new one. Does the software identify this and let the sped go back up to original or does it keep throttling the speed based on the phones age?

    Shitty situation if it is the latter and would really point towards Apple just wanting you to buy a new phone.

      That's all I was thinking about the entire read. Is it pre-emptive or reactive throttling? Will a new li ion battery solve the issue? At 15 percent the cost of a new phone. Who are the people that test these things

    Once upon a time, Apple haters claimed they created phones with obsolescence built in.
    Done to make people buy new phones more often, they claimed.

    Now Apple have admitted they pro-actively keep those old phones working by slowing them when they start to struggle, they deliberately misrepresent what Apple are doing so they can have something new to complain about.

    Apple’s big misstep here is in failing to explain themselves, allowing the trolls to lead the conversation.

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