Apple Confirms iPhones Suffer Slower Performance After About One Year of Usage, Gives Explanation

Apple Confirms iPhones Suffer Slower Performance After About One Year of Usage, Gives Explanation

Apple has now confirmed long-existing rumors about purposely slowing down their customers’ iPhones, although they dispute it being a tactic to make consumers buy their newer models.

The Internet has been awash for years that iPhones conveniently slow in speed and become riddled with bugs whenever a new model is being released. These have remained nothing but rumors, until Apple seemingly confirmed it after being challenged by a tech expert. Geekbench Developer John Poole observed the performance of an iPhone 6s and 7 over time and concluded particular iOS updates reduce a phone’s speed. According to The Verge, iOS 10.2.1 drew significant attention in the experiment, as it was “designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S,” but ends up reducing the phone’s processor speed.

There have been widespread reports that replacing your iPhone’s battery can significantly improve performance. The problem lies in that most users would tend to purchase an entirely new handset altogether, not realizing that a battery replacement could be a much cheaper solution.

When faced with the allegations, Apple responded:

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.

The response is Apple’s way of saying they’re not slowing down devices just to make customers purchase a new phone, but rather they are addressing the problems (such as unexpected shutdowns) caused by old lithium-ion batteries. Older batteries are incapable of handling the phone’s operation with the same effectiveness as an iPhone with a new battery. As such, they risk the device shutting down in order to prevent damage to its internal components. Ultimately, Apple is trying to avoid embarrassing malfunctions, although in not being transparent while doing so, they risk their customers losing trust in the brand.

It has to be said: replacing an iPhone battery is also no easy (or cheap) task. Alas, it’s a better alternative than forking out for an entirely new iPhone.

What do you make of this development?

Lead image credit: Torsten Dettlaff via Pexels

[via The Verge]

Log in or register to post comments

69 Comments

I've never heard of a battery of any kind causing a device to randomly shut down because the battery is older. The battery charge simply goes down quicker. I think Apple is full of crap and are doing this precisely to cause people to buy new iDevices, something I've always suspected, or at the least to hide the result of yet another bloated iOS update that is poor on battery life. My iPad mini 4 on iOS 11 is now a slug and has one hour less of battery life. It may be my last iDevice.

Piotr Maksymowicz's picture

Yup totally agree, Apple is just a shit company. I owned iPhone myself and had same issues. Never again going to buy an Apple device again.

For the most part I have no issues with the Mac. I've gotten my money's worth out of my Mac and always enjoy working on it. It's on the iOS side is where I think Apple is engaging in shady business.

Kawika Lopez's picture

I think it’s actually pretty simple concept. A battery is capable of outputting a range of power based on the tasks of the phone and because those tasks change, the power draw fluctuates. It makes perfect sense that an older battery wouldn’t have the stamina to keep up with the power fluctuations as much as a brand new battery.

Same reason you don’t see a ton of 60 year olds running post routes in the NFL.

I have never heard of a laptop's CPU, for example, being throttled back because it's battery now only lasts three hours when it used to last six.

No offense, but I'll wait for an electrical engineer to chime in, and one with experience on computers.

And to hell with Apple for doing such a thing without telling consumers.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Ok. First off, if you don’t understand that a CPU performing at 100% consumes more power than when it’s performing at less than 100%, then this conversation is a lost cause.

Second, it is extremely common for a modern day laptop to have some sort power-save mode. One very common side effect of putting a laptop in that mode is limiting the CPUs performance to achieve greater battery life. Obviously the big difference is that you can choose to turn it on or off.

Essentially, Apple built in an intelligent “long-term power-save” mode into their phones and didn’t tell anyone. And I’m using the term intelligent loosely. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not saying I agree with their decisions. All I’m saying is that I can understand why might have thought it was a good idea. After 2 years and 500+ battery cycles, I’d rather have a slightly sluggish phone that lasts most of the day than a pretty fast phone that’s dead by noon.

"..if you don’t understand that a CPU performing at 100% consumes more power than when it’s performing at less than 100%, then this conversation is a lost cause."

What makes you think I wouldn't understand something so basic and obvious?

"Second, it is extremely common for a modern day laptop to have some sort power-save mode. One very common side effect of putting a laptop in that mode is limiting the CPUs performance to achieve greater battery life. Obviously the big difference is that you can choose to turn it on or off."

Considering that "big difference" it makes no sense for you to mention such a thing.

"Essentially, Apple built in an intelligent “long-term power-save” mode into their phones and didn’t tell anyone. And I’m using the term intelligent loosely. I’m not saying it’s right and I’m not saying I agree with their decisions. All I’m saying is that I can understand why might have thought it was a good idea. After 2 years and 500+ battery cycles, I’d rather have a slightly sluggish phone that lasts most of the day than a pretty fast phone that’s dead by noon."

Use a little critical thinking and experience, assuming your old enough on the later. What electronics manufacturer permanently slows down a lithium powered device due to older batteries? Good luck with answering that.

"I’d rather have a slightly sluggish phone that lasts most of the day than a pretty fast phone that’s dead by noon."

Good for you, but I'm sure most people would simply rather not have a phone manufacturer cripple their phones.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Haha. Sheesh man. Ok, this is my last attempt at making my simple points clear.

Do I think Appleʻs approach to increasing battery longevity is super shady and almost unethical? YES

Should they have been upfront about what happens to your device over time? ABSOLUTELY

Would I have gotten a new battery instead of upgrading my device last year? PROBABLY

Am I a little upset about it? YEP

Am I a reasonable and sensible human being who can kind of see what they were thinking when they decided to program the phone in this way? SURE

Will I take them up on the offer to replace my battery for $30 (instead of $80) which should restore CPU performance? DEFINITELY

Hope this clears some things up my friend.

"What makes you think I wouldn't understand something so basic and obvious?"
- You didn't seem to understand why limiting a CPU would have any benefit at all.

"Considering that "big difference" it makes no sense for you to mention such a thing."
- You said you never heard of a laptop CPU being throttled to save battery. Well this is an example of the actual user being able to throttle their CPU.

"Use a little critical thinking and experience, assuming your old enough on the later. What electronics manufacturer permanently slows down a lithium powered device due to older batteries? Good luck with answering that."
- I was agreeing with you, but I was being reasonable about it.

"Good for you, but I'm sure most people would simply rather not have a phone manufacturer cripple their phones."
- I agree and I think transparency as well as cheeper battery replacements should have been instituted a long time ago.

Almost unethical? Is that like almost pregnant?

Most people know what happens to batteries over time. They learn that as a child when their toys stop functioning sooner than they used to.

Why do you feel you would need a new battery simply based on what a company is telling you, and based on something that doesn't apply to other products and manufacturers?

People that are more than a little upset have every right to be.

If you're being reasonable and sensible about the matter then explain why such crippling of CPUs doesn't occur in other lithium power computers, not to mention other lithium powered devices, simply because of older batteries?

If there is an issue with bad batteries and/or device design then you shouldn't be satisfied with a $30 battery swap. The battery should be free and/or some type of compensation should take place if there is a design flaw. Apple should also not be allowed to cripple people's iDevices.

This isn't the equivalent of a laptop's power saving features. Apple is permanently crippling iDevice CPUs. The user currently has no control over such a thing except to replace their battery.

I can't recall you agreeing with me on any particular thing. At best you are bending over backwards to support unethical and likely illegal behavior.

iDevices, laptops and other lithium powered devices with older batteries have run just fine before Apple came up with this lame excuse to force people to do something they shouldn't have to.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Literally didn't even read past the first line of your reply. Good luck in life bro. Peace.

Below is really the only important part of my post. Can you respond to? It's the one important question that the Apple apologists, and Apple, haven't addressed.

"If you're being reasonable and sensible about the matter then explain why such crippling of CPUs doesn't occur in other lithium power computers, not to mention other lithium powered devices, simply because of older batteries?"

Patrick Karbownik's picture

Oh yeah, great comparison. People are not trying to install the lates iOS on their commodore 64s or older devices. The article says that the guy experienced it on his iPhone 6s and 7. The 6s was released just over 2 years ago. And for some strange reason the battery noticed it gets weaker just as the new update arrived. What a nice coincidence.
Imagine getting an artificial hip when you're older that needs replacement every 2 years and you have to pay in full for that.

As Bob Brady stated in his post, the logical thing to happen would be a battery that discharges at a faster rate, not slowing the whole device down just to keep the same battery runtime.

In addition to that they could at least disclose this "feature" instead of keeping it secret if it really has this purpose (which I don't believe at all), especially when not giving their consumers the opportunity to change batteries like so many other companies do.

But we will never know for sure. Maybe the people at Apple never heard of planned obsolescence and they're just looking out for iPhone users.

Sander van der Veen's picture

And why again is this on Fstoppers?

Because a lot of photographers use the iPhone and it's camera.

Simon Patterson's picture

Probably because it's mainly a photography website, and this article is about the most used camera in the world...

Chris PLUNKETT's picture

Is there any particular reason you think it shouldn't be on Fstoppers? It's on here because these devices have cameras in them that are in daily use in every country on earth for posting images to the internet.
Apple are VERY famous for having clandestine stuff going on in their mobile devices and denying it exists even when they're caught with a smoking gun in their hands.For example the tracking software first secretly included in the 3rd generation iPhone and upwards.
This idea of throttling back the processor speed to save power when the battery gets too old to run it at full speed for any length of time has it's merits.High end Mercedes cars do a similar thing and give a message on the dashboard saying something like 'Consumer electrical devices de-activated to save power'.This switches off electric seats,air con,infotainment systems etc etc if the battery has low charge or is just knackered.When it has a new or fully charged battery in it,everything works again as it's supposed to.
The car manufacturer is of course honest about this sort of thing.The consumer electronics manufacturer would never ever even think of having their devices flash up a warning on the screen that warns of impending battery failure (easy to do).Instead they monopolise on the inherent gullibility of their loyal fanbase who would follow them to the end of the world and throw them selves into the abyss if told to by their omnipotent overlords.Or buy the very next iPhone because the last model is soooo last year.

Chris the Mercedes analogy is not a good one, unless Mercedes also reduces power to the engine because the car is low on gas. What Apple is doing is the equivalent of a 200hp car becoming a 90hp because the gas tank is half empty. I know of no car manufacturer that does anything equivalnent to that.

But you are correct in noting the difference when it comes to warnings. Putting aside the questionable reason for them throttling back the processors in the first place, that Apple would keep such a thing quiet is disgusting and should be looked into by the relevant regulating agencies. Many people buy and continue to buy iPhones because Apple consistently produces the best performing mobile CPUs and GPUs. So much for that now.

Nowhere have iPhone, and iPad, users were told that such a thing was happening. This has class action lawsuit written all over it and one I would support.

Getting back to their reasoning for throttling, I'm no expert on the electronics side, and I wish someone who is would chime in, but I'm no slacker in that department either, and I have never heard of any battery dependent device being *artificially* slowed down because the battery has a lower battery life. No, what happens is that the device continues to run at its full capabilities but for a shorter period of time, no different than a bulb in a flashlight quickly going dim.

In my opinion Apple was secretly doing this in order to get people to by a new iDevice every year or two or they are trying to hide how much newer versions of iOS kills battery life.

Michael Holst's picture

Not entirely the same thing but car manufacturers are strategic in how they plan their warranties based on the life expectancy of major parts. While they don't physically make changes to the car after you own it, they do expect people to buy cars more often than in the old days. Planned obsolescence is widespread. The shitty part with phones (anyone thinking their non-Apple phone is safe is misinformed) is the phone has no other reason to lose performance other than wanting people to buy a new one.

To help with why batteries can perform worse other than just age we have to remember that software updates can demand more from the hardware thus making them drain faster than they were originally designed to.

On the other hand. There are real reasons we should buy a new phone every so often. Security is one of them. Phone companies will sunset older phones by not offering software updates (Cleaning house for newer phones) and its wise to not allow ourselves to be venerable to hackers.

"Not entirely the same thing but..."

Not the same thing at all.

"Planned obsolescence is widespread."

This isn't simply a matter of planned obsolescence; it's sabotage. Obsolescence at 1-2 years will be the result of this nonsense for many customers who become unsatisfied with their iDevice's performance. A 1-2 life is ridiculous for most electronic devices, never mind one that costs around $1000. I doubt most Apple iDevice users would be happy knowing that the phone or tablet they've owned only a year is now being forced to run much more slowly.

"To help with why batteries can perform worse other than just age we have to remember that software updates can demand more from the hardware thus making them drain faster than they were originally designed to."

I addressed that.

"On the other hand. There are real reasons we should buy a new phone every so often. Security is one of them. Phone companies will sunset older phones by not offering software updates"

Not every 1-2 years. No reason at all for that. Apple is also not affected by phone companies installing their updates.

Michael Holst's picture

Not everything is a debate Bob... I was in agreement with you.

Michael no one gets to determine when debates begin or end; at least in a free society they don't. All they can do is choose to participate in them or not. That's what forums of any kind are about, to discuss and debate things.

You addressed me and I simply did not agree with some of the things you wrote or I felt that they needed to be expanded on. That's a normal result that you get from a normally functioning forum. Try not to take it personal.

Michael Holst's picture

Should be a pop-up before you enter Fstoppers that says

"Welcome to Fstoppers!
Rule #1:
No one gets to determine when debates begin or end....Except for Bob

Rule #2:
You're always going to be wrong even when you agree with Bob.

Rule #3:
Don't talk about Fightclub"

1- I just said to you that no one gets to determine when a debate begins or ends in a free society and somehow you think I'm excluding myself from that?

2- a. And yet I've agreed with you and many other people on this site many times. b. You addressed me and I responded. My comments were appropriate for what you said to me and in general.

3- Brad Pitt is an overrated actor.

Michael Holst's picture

1- I just said it's ok for you to be exempt. I'm not asking if you agree.

B- And i've agreed with you too.

3rd- Quit breaking fight club rules.

Clearly it would not be OK if I exempted myself and clearly it would not be OK with you if I did, otherwise you would not have mentioned it.

I never said or suggested that you never have agreed with me. You're the one that said I never agree with others, which is of course nonsense.

Bottom line Michael, let people comment on whatever they want. That's what forums are for. Stop trying to make it out to be a personal affront on you or anyone else just because someone disagrees with something posted.

Michael Holst's picture

Let me comment on whatever I want Bob.

Yeah that makes sense, considering that it is you that is trying to prevent commentary.
You're trolling.

Michael Holst's picture

I don't pretend to have that kind of power over people. I'm just having a conversation with you.

Clearly
you do not have that power over people but that is not preventing you from trying to stifle commentary.

Michael Holst's picture

If you don’t like what I have to say no ones forcing you to respond.

More comments