Following reports that seemed to confirm a long-standing conspiracy theory about Apple’s various smartphones, the company surprised many by publicly admitting they are indeed purposefully slowing older iPhones. Their reason is to prevent battery issues and to avoid other issues with phone performance. While this doesn’t fully confirm the idea that Apple is slowing down iPhones to push you into buying the newest version, it does work out that way due to the company not offering an inexpensive way to replace an older battery.
As noted in the earlier reports and Geekbench 4 tests, replacing an aging battery in the iPhone made the phone run smoother and with more speed than without the replacement. This raised a few alarms on Reddit and eventually prompted Apple to release an official statement later on Wednesday confirming that they added software to the phones to manage the battery output and performance as the devices age according to CNET:
“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.”
As many are pointing out, including The Washington Post, Apple and many other tech companies have removed user repairs from the equation and that has led to issues like this popping up. While Apple’s program would make sense, it is closed off from a route that would most benefit the user. As The Post points out, replacing an Apple battery is not an easy process and can be costly unless you have Apple’s protection plan:
Replacing your phone’s battery might make a huge difference. Repair site iFixit, which sells replacement batteries and other parts, says it’s seen performance boosts of 100 percent in old iPhones given battery transplants.
But replacing a battery can be expensive: Apple wants $80 to do it in a store. There’s no charge if you paid upfront for AppleCare Plus coverage and have a battery Apple thinks warrants replacing.
You can buy a new iPhone 6 battery for as little as $20, if you’re willing to do surgery on your phone. (Warning: it’s not easy.) Or some mom-and-pop shops will do it for far less than Apple. Taking either approach would void Apple’s warranty.
Worse yet is the fact that Apple did this without providing any warning or prompt to inform iPhone owners of the addition of the new software. This is the sticking point for many and could have lasting ramifications.