Apple responds to reports of worn batteries forcing iPhone CPU slowdowns

Posted:
in iPhone edited December 2017
Apple has confirmed that it temporarily slows down processes on older iPhones with poorly functioning batteries, with a recent update able to "smooth out the instantaneous peaks" when needed to prevent device shutdown.




On Wednesday, Apple issued an official statement regarding claims that worn batteries slow iPhone performance, most often seen on older and/or heavily-used devices. In its statement, Apple declares that:
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.
In its statement, Apple is referring to the iOS 10.2.1 update that solved the spurious shutdown issue, related to battery output voltage.

Responding to questions posed by AppleInsider, sources inside Apple engineering not authorized to speak on behalf of the company say that testing like benchmarking artificially loads the processor for an extended period of time. The "peaks" in power needed to run the benchmark used to test an iPhone with a chemically depleted battery can trip the mechanism Apple has implemented to prevent device shutdown in the event of a low-voltage situation.

Our sources within Apple also told us that the level of throttling varies depending on the wear state of the battery.

Lithium Ion battery technology relies on a chemical process that can be depleted, and is not eternal. As a result, performance beyond just maximum charge decreases over time. Many factors lead to battery depletion, including usage, charge/discharge cycles, and heat.

Our sources within Apple confirmed to us that users choosing to replace the batteries in devices that may be experiencing the throttling will likely see the issue rectified. This may depend on the user's environment that the phone is being used in during the test.

However, it has been poorly communicated by Apple as to what is going on. In the interest of user transparency, AppleInsider suggested to our sources that Apple implement a customer warning that the device is being throttled because of battery wear.

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.

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. It has been conclusively proven that older iPhone hardware with an adequately functioning battery is no slower than it was at launch.

The issue continues to not be a Apple-led conspiracy to force users to buy new hardware. Apple is not slowing down older devices to convince users to buy a new one. If it did, the throttling would be permanent, and a new battery would not solve the issue.

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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 173
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,544member
    I know people will bitch about this, but I think it makes sense for Apple to do. I'd much rather have more battery life than a faster phone. If you don't have the battery life, then the speed of your phone doesn't matter so much anymore. When your battery starts to crap out, something has to give. So Apple could do nothing about it and just let the phone be the same speed and listen to people complain that their battery dies too quickly, or they can do something about it which is what they did. Either way, Apple is probably gonna catch crap. 
    racerhomie3jbdragoncurtis hannahmacpluspluszroger73flashfan207JWSCpscooter63entropysmagman1979
  • Reply 2 of 173
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,331member
    I don't understand how an iPhone 7 could have this problem already-  mine seems fine.  Apple should give the user a notification when they do that and let them know they can get the battery replaced.   Does AppleCare cover they battery replacement?   It should.

    All those android fans with their replaceable batteries will be crowing about this. 
    lkruppdysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 173
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,226administrator
    Seems to me the choice is allow for full-speed all the time and the iPhone to conk out when under load, possibly taking the hardware with it, or throttling down when the battery is old or depleted.

    More transparency would have been good, though.
    canukstormjahbladechiajungmarkmvigodmagman1979netmagejony0
  • Reply 4 of 173
    Why do GPS dependent apps like Waze perform worse in iOS11 ? I have no time for research / survey's, but wouldn't be surprised with some anti-competitive measure to have been taken "in the interest of he UX" "the customer", "the integration level" and alike objectives
    edited December 2017
  • Reply 5 of 173
    I really hate the fact that THIS is what people are losing their minds about.

    jbdragoncurtis hannahequality72521LukeCagehammeroftruthwatto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 173
    "Lithium Ion battery technology ... is not eternal." Nooooooo! Can't take 'em with ya, can't use 'em after 5-15 years.
  • Reply 7 of 173
    Bacillus3 said:
    Why do GPS dependent apps like Waze perform worse in iOS11 ? I have no time for research / survey's, but wouldn't be surprised with some anti-competitive measure to have been taken "in the interest of he UX" "the customer", "the integration level" and alike objective
    What are you talking about? Are you suggesting that for competitive reasons Apple intentionally cripples Waze on iOS compared to...what? On Android? Apple Maps?

    Regardless, no, they’re not crippling Waze to prop up Apple Maps for competitive reasons. 
    edited December 2017 racerhomie3jbdragonchiapscooter63watto_cobranetmagejony0
  • Reply 8 of 173
    Kind of a dumb controversy, really. As the A series SoC has become more and more powerful, seems like the trend is to claim that the iPhone is either "overpowered" for the software used most of the time or that users "won't really notice" the difference with a new iPhone most of the time. But now, suddenly, people are worried that a benchmark number drops a bit vs. optimum conditions.
    racerhomie3cornchipflashfan207prismaticswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 173
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,033member
    Bacillus3 said:
    Why do GPS dependent apps like Waze perform worse in iOS11 ? I have no time for research / survey's, but wouldn't be surprised with some anti-competitive measure to have been taken "in the interest of he UX" "the customer", "the integration level" and alike objectives
    You're too busy to research, but not too busy to create a bullshit scenario sans evidence.

    Troll.
    StrangeDaysracerhomie3jbdragonchiacornchipwigbypscooter63roundaboutnowwatto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 10 of 173
    Good detective work indeed but they're forming a narrative that maybe not everyone agrees with. It could be read as "planned obsolescence" but the actual story is more complex. Battery management makes sense and I would expect it. Notification makes sense as well though needs to thread the gap between notifying and not confusing.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 173
    k2kw said:
    I don't understand how an iPhone 7 could have this problem already-  mine seems fine.  Apple should give the user a notification when they do that and let them know they can get the battery replaced.   Does AppleCare cover they battery replacement?   It should.

    All those android fans with their replaceable batteries will be crowing about this. 
    Do you realize how much people use their phones?
    jbdragonmagman1979
  • Reply 12 of 173
    More "secret squirrel" antics from Apple.
    saltyzip
  • Reply 13 of 173
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,899member
    The issue continues to not be a Apple-led conspiracy to force users to buy new hardware. Apple is not slowing down older devices to convince users to buy a new one. If it did, the throttling would be permanent, and a new battery would not solve the issue.


    I'm going to take issue with that.  Apple IS slowing down older devices, ostensibly to prevent shutdowns.  The throttling is absolutely permanent as long as the battery is not replaced.  I can't think of anyone who is going to replace their battery.  Apple may claim it doesn't throttle older hardware to force users to upgrade, but that is the net effect.  we know that because they just told us.  

    dysamoriablurpbleepbloopsaltyzipcropr
  • Reply 14 of 173
    More "secret squirrel" antics from Apple.
    Dunno how well you know Apple but they're known for being pretty secretive. While it bothers journalists trying to cover them, it hasn't been a bother to regular consumers.
    racerhomie3watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 173
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,226administrator
    sdw2001 said:
    The issue continues to not be a Apple-led conspiracy to force users to buy new hardware. Apple is not slowing down older devices to convince users to buy a new one. If it did, the throttling would be permanent, and a new battery would not solve the issue.


      The throttling is absolutely permanent as long as the battery is not replaced.  

    Then... the throttling isn't permanent. Like you said, replace the battery, and the throttling stops. $79 is way cheaper than an iPhone SE.
    StrangeDaysequality72521tmaychiaflashfan207magman1979roundaboutnowwatto_cobranetmagejSnively
  • Reply 16 of 173
    sdw2001 said:
    The issue continues to not be a Apple-led conspiracy to force users to buy new hardware. Apple is not slowing down older devices to convince users to buy a new one. If it did, the throttling would be permanent, and a new battery would not solve the issue.


    I'm going to take issue with that.  Apple IS slowing down older devices, ostensibly to prevent shutdowns.  The throttling is absolutely permanent as long as the battery is not replaced.  I can't think of anyone who is going to replace their battery.  Apple may claim it doesn't throttle older hardware to force users to upgrade, but that is the net effect.  we know that because they just told us.  

    People have their batteries replaced all the time, every day, at every Apple Store. Many people would rather spend $80 to replace a battery than a few hundred to get a new phone. Sometimes the battery is the only thing wrong with the phone and a parent want to replace it to hand down to their child while they get a new phone. Again, battery replacements happen all the time, regardless of if you know someone who would do it or not. 

    People claimed that Apple was slowing down older devices intentionally TO SPUR UPGRADES. This is not that. Apple slowing a phone to save its battery is a good thing and means that person won’t need to repair/replace their phone as quickly. Sure, maybe Apple could add an indicator to let people know their battery needs replacement, but I bet that just brings around more complaining about money grabs and falsehoods. 
    edited December 2017 StrangeDayschiaflashfan207pscooter63watto_cobranetmage
  • Reply 17 of 173
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,544member
    k2kw said:
    I don't understand how an iPhone 7 could have this problem already-  mine seems fine.  Apple should give the user a notification when they do that and let them know they can get the battery replaced.   Does AppleCare cover they battery replacement?   It should.

    All those android fans with their replaceable batteries will be crowing about this. 
    Nobody ever said this was happening with an iPhone 7. You totally read the article wrong if you're thinking that. Apple simply implemented that feature for iPhone 7 should it happen in the future. This was primarily tested with an iPhone 6, not an iPhone 7. 

    From what I read using the link below, battery replacements are only covered if you have AppleCare+ as a battery is considered a consumable item and the battery has to have 80% or less of consumable life which they can easily test for using their diagnostics program in store. The only exception is if they see where there's a defect, such as in the iPhone 6s battery replacement program and even then the battery must have had 80% of less consumable life left to get the battery replaced under the program. 

    https://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/products/ios-warranty-document-us.html (US/Canada/Mexico) Other countries may have different warranties. 

    I couldn't care less about what Android people think. Their battery life is horrible even with a good battery so honestly they don't really have a leg to stand on. 
    edited December 2017 StrangeDayspscooter63
  • Reply 18 of 173
    This makes no sense!! I would be more likely to buy a new phone because of short battery life and possible unexpected shut downs then because of the speed of the processor!! I have a 6SPlus and the processor is more then fast enough to do what ever I need. Battery life, while degraded, is still more then a full day's worth! I usually have 20-30% at the end of the day on most days. Yes, Apple could have been more transparent and saved the conspiracy nuts from blowing an aneurysm! Well maybe not! :).  
  • Reply 19 of 173

    sdw2001 said:
    The issue continues to not be a Apple-led conspiracy to force users to buy new hardware. Apple is not slowing down older devices to convince users to buy a new one. If it did, the throttling would be permanent, and a new battery would not solve the issue.

    I'm going to take issue with that.  Apple IS slowing down older devices, ostensibly to prevent shutdowns.  The throttling is absolutely permanent as long as the battery is not replaced.  I can't think of anyone who is going to replace their battery.  Apple may claim it doesn't throttle older hardware to force users to upgrade, but that is the net effect.  we know that because they just told us.  

    Nonsense. The conspiracy claim is they do it specifically to push people into buying a new device. This new power management feature isn't designed to push people into buying a new phone, it's designed to prevent an immediate battery shut-down during peak load. Those are different statements. Thus, Mike is correct.

    Lots of people buy new batteries. If you're happy with your device and don't intend to upgrade every year or two, there's no reason not to service the battery. But I agree having a notice logged somewhere that the device has triggered this procedure would be nice, in order to know that the battery is getting run down to the point where it can't operate at peak performance any longer.
    macplusplussennenpscooter63netmage
  • Reply 20 of 173
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,529member
    I don't have a problem with the methods that Apple took. I have a problem with it not being disclosed. If you're going to put a device in "limp home" mode, you need to inform the user either with a notification (i.e. when an iPhone kicks into Low Power mode). I don't think that it's fair to dramatically cripple system performance and not say SOMETHING about it.
    propodmike54r2d2muthuk_vanalingampalegolasnetmagewelshdogsandor
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