When Apple admitted that they do indeed slow down iPhones with failing batteries to protect them from sudden shutdowns, many people clamored that it is proof that Apple really has a roadmap for "planned obsolescence" for its older products.
But is it really? Apple may not have been too transparent with this practice but at least it extends the usability and reliability of iPhones that are due for a battery replacement anyway. We get it, lithium-ion batteries don't last forever and regular wear and tear will diminish its performance through time (usually after two years of regular use).
It's also important to note that Apple is not limiting the processing speed of every old iPhone, just the ones that have diminished battery performance. Note: This power-management feature was actually introduced and explained in iOS 10.2.1, and it included a "Your iPhone battery may need to be serviced” message for affected iPhones.
In fact, I still have my launch day iPhone 6 Plus with iOS 11 and it still runs at full speed. Additionally, I still have my collection of old iPhones with different iOS versions that are still perfectly usable to this day. This just shows that like with any gadget, if you take care of them properly, you'll get more years out of them.
Do you want to get the most out of your lithium-ion batteries? Click here for battery killing mistakes you may be making right now.
However, I agree with some of the criticisms. What Apple could have done was to inform the public about the extent of these performance tweaks in iOS and let iPhone users have a choice between throttled performance or sudden shutdowns (similar to low-power mode.)
This would have prevented this current backlash and any perceived notions that Apple is forcing people to get rid of their old iPhones and buy the latest versions.
In a detailed message posted on its website, Apple issued a rare apology and an explanation as to why they decided to implement performance throttling in iPhones with diminished battery capacities.
The post explains that batteries are "consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age."
Due to older batteries' diminished ability to hold a charge and supply the required voltage, iOS's "power management system" will manage the phone's load in order to maintain usability and prevent shutdowns.
Furthermore, as a part of Apple's apology, the company will offer anyone with iPhone 6 or later with a $50 discount on a battery replacement. Starting in January through December 2018, owners of said iPhones can have their batteries replaced for a mere $29.
Is your old iPhone getting throttled?
Keep in mind that processor speed is not the only area that can be affected by the iOS's power management system. Here are other tell-tale signs that your iPhone's performance is being managed because of battery issues:
- Longer app launch times - this means when you open an app, it takes longer than usual to start up. In-app functions may also feel laggy and slow.
- Lower frame rates while scrolling - Browsing through the home screen may look choppy. Browser scrolling will feel laggy and unresponsive.
- Backlight dimming (which can be overridden in Control Center) - Screen won't look as bright as it used to.
- Lower speaker volume by up to -3dB - Music and videos will be noticeably softer when playing their sounds through the external speaker.
- Gradual frame rate reductions in some apps - Again, apps may look choppy and feel laggy.
- During the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI
- Apps refreshing in the background may require reloading upon launch - Depending on the settings, background apps are typically kept running so users can pick up what they left off within the app. Wit throttling, even background apps will be reloaded from scratch.
Apple also listed key features that are not impacted by the power management. These make sense since these are the core features we typically use our smartphones for:
- Cellular call quality and networking throughout performance
- Captured photo and video quality
- GPS performance
- Location accuracy
- Sensors like gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer
- Apple Pay
What do you think? Is Apple's "power management system" actually a good thing for iPhone owners? And did the company do the right thing by issuing an apology and a discount? Drop us a comment!
Does Samsung have a battery problem with its new phone too?
It's not just Apple that's in the spotlight for battery controversies, it looks like Samsung is having its share of battery complaints with its new smartphone too. Click here to read what it's all about.