Apple may fix aging battery issues, prevent random shutdowns by slowing down iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone
It appears that some iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s family devices may see slower processing speeds as a result of a battery that has reached the end of its operational life, with some users getting a speed-up upon replacement -- but the slow-down and consequent speed-up isn't universal, and there may be other factors at work.




A lengthy Reddit thread was started on Dec. 10, with several satellite threads spun off over the weekend. All of the threads had users claiming higher benchmark results after a battery replacement. While there is no universal improvement in benchmarks after a replacement, some additional users did confirm that their devices felt faster after a replacement.

Confusing the issue somewhat, some users with replacements at a Genius Bar saw no improvements. Additionally, users with third-party batteries sourced from unknown vendors also saw no improvements.

At present, the theory is that the iOS 10.2.1 update issued in part to rectify iPhone 6 shutdown issues with a low-power battery condition implemented some kind of down-clocking routine to slow the processor in afflicted devices. The thread speculates that the same routines to prevent the premature shutdown exist in iOS 11, and are what is causing the less-than-expected results in benchmarks.
Users theorize that Apple addressed random shutdown issues by down-clocking the processor in afflicted devices.
The down-clocking of the processor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s family devices reportedly extends to even when the iPhone is plugged in. If universally accurate, this is not dissimilar to how some iBook models after the Intel migration would run slower when running on the AC adapter without an installed and at least partially functional battery.

AppleInsider attempted to get clarification on the situation from sources within Apple. Apple service guidance information provided to us by sources not authorized to speak on behalf of the company do not have a replace battery step as a rectification step for user-reported slow iPhones.

We were unable to get any information explicitly confirming or denying the theories postulated in the Reddit thread. We were told that customers should get their batteries replaced at Apple-authorized service centers, as that is the only way that it can be guaranteed that a battery meeting all of the company's specifications can be met.

It is not clear if other families of iPhones are impacted by the same effect.

As a side-effect of the thread, and consequent reporting of it, the conspiracy theory suggesting that Apple intentionally slows down older iPhones to force purchasing a new device has risen again. While it has been conclusively proven that older iPhone hardware with an adequately functioning battery is no slower than it was at launch, any routine to down-clock an iPhone processor in an environment where the battery is weak can be dealt with by a battery replacement -- without mandating a new iPhone purchase.

A battery replacement through Apple costs $79. A new iPhone SE on the low-end costs $349, with the iPhone X on the high end retailing for $999 and up.

Should AppleInsider get any more information from our sources within Apple regarding the possibility of a processor throttle with a chemically depleted battery, we will update accordingly.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    I have a 6+ and experienced the "random shut down issue":  The phone would have a 30% charge but as soon as I started a video it would drop to less than 10% and then shut down.  It would reboot on a charger.  I had the battery replaced with a third party battery and the phone seemed to work just fine after that.

    Or, rather it did until OS 11.0 where both the battery drained very quickly and the keyboard had a significant lag.   Also, loading a spreadsheet in Numbers was noticeably slower.  Things have gradually improved since then and now the phone is running 11.2 and things are mostly back to where they were --  but not quite.  It still, occasionally seems to run a bit slower loading spreadsheets and apps.

    But, it no longer seems like I need to purchase a new phone.   It is slower than it was, but its not terribly so.  I suspect that it is just an older phone trying to deal with a newer OS with (I would imagine) increased memory & processor demands...
    edited December 2017 airnerd
  • Reply 2 of 39
    I've had an issue with my 6 since the 8 was released where it would shut down OR it will go from a lot of battery to almost none in the span of a few minutes.  Over the weekend I went from 30% to 7% during one quarter of football while my phone sat unused on the couch beside me.  I picked it up after about 20 minutes to check my fantasy stats and when I unlocked it I got "20% remaining" and then "10% remaining".  

    But I have an aftermarket screen and battery, so I'm on my own and no fault of Apple.  
  • Reply 3 of 39
    I have a 6+ and experienced the "random shut down issue":  The phone would have a 30% charge but as soon as I started a video it would drop to less than 10% and then shut down.  It would reboot on a charger.  I had the battery replaced with a third party battery and the phone seemed to work just fine after that.

    Or, rather it did until OS 11.0 where both the battery drained very quickly and the keyboard had a significant lag.   Also, loading a spreadsheet in Numbers was noticeably slower.  Things have gradually improved since then and now the phone is running 11.2 and things are mostly back to where they were --  but not quite.  It still, occasionally seems to run a bit slower loading spreadsheets and apps.

    But, it no longer seems like I need to purchase a new phone.   It is slower than it was, but its not terribly so.  I suspect that it is just an older phone trying to deal with a newer OS with (I would imagine) increased memory & processor demands...
    Using the google app is almost impossible now.  After launch and drawing load, I click into the search box and it moves to the top.  It takes no less than 7 seconds before my keyboard responds.  Thought it was just my old phone.
  • Reply 4 of 39
    So Apple knew they had a very large number of defective batteries, so instead of replacing them (that would actually cost them MONEY) they just updated iOS to downclock the CPU to avoid low-voltage shutdowns. Just brilliant, huh?
    tipootallest skil[Deleted User]
  • Reply 5 of 39
    As a side-effect of the thread, and consequent reporting of it, the conspiracy theory suggesting that Apple intentionally slows down older iPhones to force purchasing a new device has risen again. While it has been conclusively proven that older iPhone hardware with an adequately functioning battery is no slower than it was at launch, any routine to down-clock an iPhone processor in an environment where the battery is weak can be dealt with by a battery replacement -- without mandating a new iPhone purchase.”

    The problem is that since Apple have done nothing to explain or even reveal this behaviour, the average customer has absolutely no reason to believe any performance issues are battery related and are far more likely to believe they need a new phone rather than a battery replacement.  So this resurgence of what you call a “conspiracy theory” is actually pretty justified.  

    In actual fact this phenomenon flat out proves that, in practice, older iPhone hardware really is deliberately underclocked and slowed down by software.  So actually those conspiracy theorists weren’t imagining it - they were onto something.
    airnerd[Deleted User]
  • Reply 6 of 39
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,309administrator
    petri said:


    In actual fact this phenomenon flat out proves that, in practice, older iPhone hardware really is deliberately underclocked and slowed down by software.  So actually those conspiracy theorists weren’t imagining it - they were onto something.
    Yeah, but not what they wanted to prove. You're moving the goalposts of the argument. Apple doesn't throttle the phones to get you to buy a new phone.

    All that was proven here is that batteries age, and that there are effects of that.

    I guess the question is, which is better -- no phone because Apple shuts it down because of battery performance, or a slower one.
    edited December 2017 king editor the grateGeorgeBMacpichael
  • Reply 7 of 39
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,309administrator

    fmalloy said:
    So Apple knew they had a very large number of defective batteries, so instead of replacing them (that would actually cost them MONEY) they just updated iOS to downclock the CPU to avoid low-voltage shutdowns. Just brilliant, huh?
    They did replace at least some of them.
  • Reply 8 of 39
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,686member
    Looking forward to confirmation from Apple. If the throttling behavior is by-design I would say it is a good feature and Apple should let its customers know about it in a user friendly way. Failure avoidance through degraded operation and reduced functionality is a common and reasonable strategy to allow "limp-home"operation until such time that a failing component, i.e., replacement battery, can be replaced. It sure beats having a totally dead phone that won't charge. I have not seen any battery related quirks with my 6+ but if there were a diagnostic battery health indicator that would let me know when it's time to schedule an appointment at the genius bar. I know that there's always a risk of abuse and false alarms with diagnostic indicators, e.g., the "check engine" indicator in most cars, an indicator that should sometimes be more accurately labeled "check wallet." Still, I'd personally prefer to have a diagnostic indicator, one for every serviceable/replaceable component in fact, rather than having the device silently compensate and leave me wondering why my device's performance is wonky. As others have said, many things can lead to performance degradation, which is why performance degradation is a common early warning indicator for many device issues. Having a battery health indicator would at least rule out the battery as the culprit. I suspect Apple has the ability to provide a lot more diagnostics but they choose not to surface these to end users to keep the overall user experience simpler. 
    king editor the grate
  • Reply 9 of 39
    bb-15bb-15 Posts: 213member
    This is a strange rumor because it is about a conspiracy by Apple (to slow down the iPhone 6 which were upgraded to 10.2.1 or later).
    (I own an iPhone 6 on 10.3.3) 
    - I suggest, instead of going by anecdotal evidence, hopefully iPhone 6s, which have pre 10.2.1, can be found and tested with benchmarks and some real world app use situations. Then that performance can be compared with iPhone 6s which have 10.2.1 or later. 

    Without that more objective measurement, proof of a conspiracy by Apple cannot be determined.
      
    I'm sorry that some users have iPhone 6s which are malfunctioning.
    But any phone model can have problems due to wear and tear.
    Fortunately as stated in the article, Apple can do an iPhone battery replacement.  
    edited December 2017 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 39
    tipootipoo Posts: 941member
    This whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. A lot of outlets never picked up on that the software band-aid for the 6S shutdowns just throttled back the SoC to not be as bursty, reducing performance quite a bit (I think I more than doubled time in Octane). 

    They did have a free swap program, but originally at least, not for the 6S Plus or 6, only the 6S, even though they all had similar issues. 

    And besides that, if the software could tell you had a bad batch battery and throttle down the SoC for it, instead of running silently in the background why could it not send a notification to get a swap, and not slow down performance that way? If they can give us all U2 albums...


    They may be making right now, but most users will just never figure out they clamped down the SoC to prevent bad batterys shutting down. A notification would do that, it would also cost them more...
    airnerd[Deleted User]
  • Reply 11 of 39
    tipootipoo Posts: 941member
    Now that I think about it I made this thread on it back then, saw a few scattered posts about it but didn't pick up critical mass until this reddit post:

    edited December 2017
  • Reply 12 of 39
    bb-15bb-15 Posts: 213member
    tipoo said:
    Now that I think about it I made this thread on it back then, saw a few scattered posts about it but didn't pick up critical mass until this reddit post:

    With all due respect, imo a media outlet/publication would need to do such testing before evidence about a conspiracy by Apple can be found.
    For instance the supposed conspiracy is about the iPhone 6 while your phone is a 6S. 
    It also needs to be clear; 1. What specific version of iOS caused the slowdown? Is 10.2.1 (as stated by those who claim there is a conspiracy) causing the slowdown? 2. If there are benchmark changes what are the differences? iOS updates on new phones can lead to benchmark changes.

    Again, I'd be more comfortable if a reputable website that does phone speed tests would investigate these conspiracy claims.  
    edited December 2017 mwhiteGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 13 of 39
    tipootipoo Posts: 941member
    bb-15 said:
    tipoo said:
    Now that I think about it I made this thread on it back then, saw a few scattered posts about it but didn't pick up critical mass until this reddit post:

    With all due respect, imo a media outlet/publication would need to do such testing before evidence about a conspiracy by Apple can be found.
    For instance the supposed conspiracy is about the iPhone 6 while your phone is a 6S. 
    It also needs to be clear; 1. What specific version of iOS caused the slowdown? Is 10.2.1 (as stated by those who claim there is a conspiracy) causing the slowdown? 2. If there are benchmark changes what are the differences? iOS updates on new phones can lead to benchmark changes.

    Again, I'd be more comfortable if a reputable website that does phone speed tests would investigate these conspiracy claims.  

    ?

    From the article: "The down-clocking of the processor in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s family devices reportedly extends to even when the iPhone is plugged in."

    And the original battery recall was only for the 6S 

    https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/

    This all happened two generations ago and those comments just never reached a critical mass until this reddit post. I'm not blaming the p
    ublications to be clear, I'm just saying it never got noticed, and Apple also never sent a notification to impacted batteries to come in for a swap, so Apple managed to dodge the majority of the bill. 

    It's probably too late now for any publication to investigate 10.2.0 vs 10.2.1, but that battery shutdown patch is exactly when my 6S performance fell off a cliff. 

    To also be clear I'm definitely not backing the "purposeful slowdown to buy a new phone" claim, I'm just saying the 6S defective battery patch definitely tamped down SoC performance to not have peaks on the battery. I don't think it can remotely be called a conspiracy, but you don't have to believe some guy on the internet. For me though, what I found myself back with the 6S, tested with numbers before and after that patch in that unseen thread I made, was exactly what the reddit post and many are now describing, so it scratched that itch from a few phones ago. 
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 14 of 39
    airnerd said:
    I've had an issue with my 6 since the 8 was released where it would shut down OR it will go from a lot of battery to almost none in the span of a few minutes.  Over the weekend I went from 30% to 7% during one quarter of football while my phone sat unused on the couch beside me.  I picked it up after about 20 minutes to check my fantasy stats and when I unlocked it I got "20% remaining" and then "10% remaining".  

    But I have an aftermarket screen and battery, so I'm on my own and no fault of Apple.  
    That's almost exactly what mine was doing (although it mostly happened when I started a video).  Apple checked it and found the battery was marginal -- ok, but right on the line.   A new (third party) battery fixed it.
  • Reply 15 of 39
    If anything can be helped by testing a first-gen iPhone (and iPad) and their batteries, let me know.  :p
  • Reply 16 of 39
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,577member
    I have a 6+ and experienced the "random shut down issue":  The phone would have a 30% charge but as soon as I started a video it would drop to less than 10% and then shut down.  It would reboot on a charger.  I had the battery replaced with a third party battery and the phone seemed to work just fine after that.

    Or, rather it did until OS 11.0 where both the battery drained very quickly and the keyboard had a significant lag.   Also, loading a spreadsheet in Numbers was noticeably slower.  Things have gradually improved since then and now the phone is running 11.2 and things are mostly back to where they were --  but not quite.  It still, occasionally seems to run a bit slower loading spreadsheets and apps.

    But, it no longer seems like I need to purchase a new phone.   It is slower than it was, but its not terribly so.  I suspect that it is just an older phone trying to deal with a newer OS with (I would imagine) increased memory & processor demands...
    I guess I'm gonna assume your 6S wasn't covered under the replacement program...otherwise I find it silly to not just take it into Apple and have it fixed under the battery replacement program. Takes about an hour to do. I had it done with my 6S along with a home button replacement (replaced the top screen) and the entire repair took about an hour and half and I was set with no money out of pocket. 
  • Reply 17 of 39
    fmalloy said:
    So Apple knew they had a very large number of defective batteries, so instead of replacing them (that would actually cost them MONEY) they just updated iOS to downclock the CPU to avoid low-voltage shutdowns. Just brilliant, huh?
    How many assumptions did you just make there?   lets see:  I count:
    1, 2, 3, 4....

    And not one with any actual evidence to back it up!

    StrangeDays
  • Reply 18 of 39
    petri said:


    In actual fact this phenomenon flat out proves that, in practice, older iPhone hardware really is deliberately underclocked and slowed down by software.  So actually those conspiracy theorists weren’t imagining it - they were onto something.
    Yeah, but not what they wanted to prove. You're moving the goalposts of the argument. Apple doesn't throttle the phones to get you to buy a new phone.

    All that was proven here is that batteries age, and that there are effects of that.

    I guess the question is, which is better -- no phone because Apple shuts it down because of battery performance, or a slower one.
    I’m not moving any goalposts, the conspiracy theory was that Apple were deliberately slowing down older phones and that’s literally what has been proven to be happening.  The battery is an integral component of the phone and as its chemistry ages the phone is programmed to slow down.  Those are the facts as we now know them.

    Whether Apple’s motivation is purely to save people from the inconvenience of battery shutdowns (which we’re expected to accept can’t be avoided any other way), or to encourage people to upgrade their phones, or maybe a little bit of both - THAT is unknown.  It’s unknown because Apple have made no attempt to explain themselves or be up front about this “feature”.  And that in itself is highly suspect.
  • Reply 19 of 39
    petri said:


    In actual fact this phenomenon flat out proves that, in practice, older iPhone hardware really is deliberately underclocked and slowed down by software.  So actually those conspiracy theorists weren’t imagining it - they were onto something.
    Yeah, but not what they wanted to prove. You're moving the goalposts of the argument. Apple doesn't throttle the phones to get you to buy a new phone.

    All that was proven here is that batteries age, and that there are effects of that.

    I guess the question is, which is better -- no phone because Apple shuts it down because of battery performance, or a slower one.
    "Apple shuts it down because of battery performance"
    They may have done that -- but I didn't experience it.
    Instead, it seemed to be more with the battery monitor not working "properly":
    My 6+ would be sitting at above 30% percent power then, as soon as I started a video, it would drop to near zero and then zero and shut down.   It couldn't be restarted until it was put on a charger -- at which point the battery charge immediately popped right back up to 30% as soon as the phone restarted.

    When Apple tested the (2 year old) battery, it tested as OK, but was right on the line of needing replaced -- and they said a new battery would correct the problem.   They were correct.

    Rather than actually being a battery problem or an intentional shut down by Apple I think it was simply a power monitor that was not doing its job well and fooling the phone.
  • Reply 20 of 39
    It’s useful to know that performance issues may be cause by the battery.  Currently I would need to go to the Apple Store to have them run a diagnostic.

    I’d appreciate it if Apple created an app for that.  Hardware issues as devices age are to be expected (especially batteries). Rather than deal with issues and have no way to diagnose them, and unable to turn to third parties due to the “walled garden” it’s time for APPLE to step up and create/provide it for end users.  (It already exists for Apple employees)
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