Apple Admits It Purposely Slows Down Old iPhones

December 22, 2017  |  

The back of an iPhone 6 is seen on October 25, 2017. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

So, my mother was right. Apple is slowing down older iPhones. But in her opinion, Apple is doing it to get you to buy a new phone, and I have to say, I agree with her. But according to the company, that’s not why they’re doing it.

The tech giant that’s worth more than $900 billion had this to say to The Verge:

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.

So, wait-a-minute Apple.  You mean to tell me that as an iPhone 7 user, I have a “feature” on my phone that currently keeps it from shutting down? In other words, I just need to get my battery replaced every-so-often, and it’ll run at maximum? Why didn’t anybody tell me that?

Ladies, we all know transparency is the best policy in any relationship, so when you find out that someone has been “omitting” information, then you start trying to find out why. In Apple’s case, I believe it’s so that we can buy a new iPhone. I’ve clearly been a sucker in doing so for the past few years, have you?

A New York Times article brought in its lead technology writer to help us understand Apple’s admission a little more and to not make us feel so bad for falling for, as my friend San says, “the banana in the tailpipe.” Here’s Brian X. Chen’s insight:

Can you translate? Is Apple saying that it intentionally slows down older iPhones as new ones are released?

What Apple is acknowledging is a power management technique in which the iPhone scales back processing power to keep the device running for longer when its battery health is low. Lithium ion batteries have a limited number of charge “cycles” before they can no longer be recharged properly. Apple’s website says the battery loses about 20 percent of its original capacity after 500 charge cycles.  In other words, if your iPhone is beginning to run out of battery capacity, these slowdowns might kick in to keep it running for longer or prevent it from shutting down unexpectedly.

Again, why wasn’t this disclosed to iPhone customers? Two people are so up-in-arms about the non-disclosure that they have brought a class action lawsuit against the California-based company. Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas filed the lawsuit yesterday in California. Both are claiming that Apple never requested consent from them to “slow down their phones,” and they are claiming that they “suffered interferences to their iPhone usage due to the intentional slowdowns.” According to a CNBC article, Bogdanovich and Speas are also working on covering people who owned an iPhone older than its 8-model (that would be me!).

So, why can’t Apple just use another battery? Apple uses the lithium ion battery, and it is still the safest, smartest and easily replaceable battery on the market.  Remember what happened with Samsung Galaxy Note’s battery? Yeah – it exploded, and we don’t want a repeat of that.

The New York Times lead technology writer gave us the best moral of the story:

“[Apple] could have notified people that a power management mode was kicking in to keep their iPhones running for longer because their batteries are running out of juice. That would also inform people that they should be getting their batteries replaced. Because Apple was not transparent, it’s natural for people to suspect it of deliberately crippling their devices to get them to buy new ones.”

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