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.