Apple Admits to Secretly Slowing Down iPhones, Explains Why

Apple Admits to Secretly Slowing Down iPhones, Explains Why

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Apple has issued an official statement to address recent speculation that it's been secretly slowing down older iPhones.

Here's the statement:

“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.

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.”


For those unaware, here's the backstory. In 2016, iPhone 6s owners began complaining that their devices were unexpectedly shutting down. Apple issued a 'small' battery recall claiming a manufacturing defect.

"We found that a small number of iPhone 6s devices made in September and October 2015 contained a battery component that was exposed to controlled ambient air longer than it should have been before being assembled into battery packs. As a result, these batteries degrade faster than a normal battery and cause unexpected shutdowns to occur. It's important to note, this is not a safety issue."

Despite the recall, there were still iPhone 6s owners experiencing problems. Apple then issued a software update three months later that was able to mysteriously fix unexpected shutdowns for most users.

That was pretty much the last we heard about the issue until earlier this month when a reddit user noticed that benchmark scores were significantly higher after swapping the battery on an iPhone 6s.

The report led to some analysis by John Poole, founder of Geekbench, which appeared to confirm that Apple was slowing down iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices based on the condition of their battery.

Apple's statement today confirms that yes, it is intentionally slowing down iPhones but only when it attempts to draw more power than the battery can provide. It lays the blame on the nature of lithium-ion batteries. As batteries age they have increased internal series resistance that limits the amount of power you can pull out of them. What the company does not explain is why iPhone 6 and 6s weren't designed with enough headroom to prevent this from happening in such a short period of time. Given the recall and subsequent software update, it's fairly clear that this was an unexpected problem. Shouldn't we have seen the same issue will all previous iPhone models?

What will likely raise the most ire isn't the slowdown itself but the lack of transparency surrounding it. Customer's should know if the performance of their device is taking a hit due to its battery condition so that they can have the opportunity to replace it. Additionally, the shortsightedness of implementing this change in secret will likely contribute to the narrative that Apple slows down its devices purposely to drive upgrades.

Developer Marco Arment recently tweeted, "For years, we’ve reassured people that no, Apple doesn’t secretly slow down their older iPhones to make them buy new ones. If this must be done, it should be a setting. If it’s on by default, the user should be alerted the first time it happens. The reputation damage from secretly slowing down old iPhones, regardless of the reason, will likely linger for a decade."

Daring Fireball's John Gruber also addressed this belief saying, "I know for a fact that the widely-held belief that Apple booby-traps two-year-old iPhones drives Apple employees — ranging from engineers to senior executives — nuts, because the truth is the opposite. They really do knock themselves out trying to build and maintain products with lasting value."

What do you think? Are you okay with how Apple handled this situation? Do you notice any performance issues with your iPhone 6s or iPhone 7 on iOS 11.2? Let us know in the comments!

[via TechCrunch]


Apple Admits to Secretly Slowing Down iPhones, Explains Why

Kenny - December 28, 2017 at 9:58pm
I think ios11 has completely been designed to work around this by dumping ram. iPhones have always been speed Kings with much less ram than everyone else yet anyone that’s gone from previous iOS to 11 has seen performance and speed drop and now none of the new iPhones with massive increase in processors are close to the top of the speed charts now. My apps that used to stay open in the background now have to be reloaded way more frequently.
Aj - December 23, 2017 at 9:32pm
We need to decide this not apple!!!
renatouol - December 22, 2017 at 8:12pm
please, put the option to user decid to slow or not slow
Jimmy764 - December 22, 2017 at 5:16pm
Been an apple user since day 1. I have an iPhone 6s that was under the recall for the faulty battery. So I get the battery replaced. Everything was fine up UNTIL 11.2 Now I am noticing that the battery dies down very very fast. I mainly only use this particular phone for at most 4 hours a day while listening to a podcast and Notifications are off. So I'm just streaming podcasts. The phones screen is not on and the battery dies down fast after this 11.2 update.
Sean Hurley - December 22, 2017 at 11:28am
Yes I have noticed some battery issues with my phone to where it drains it way faster. Should I get my battery replaced? If so where? The Apple store? Also the performance has changed and I drop a lot of calls and the device doesn’t seem to be connecting to my provider well. I have an Apple Watch 3 series with cellular and receive no interruptions. Just this morning my phone said no service when my watch said it was connected to AT&T. Please advise on this matter.
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