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Apple Admits it is Slowing Down Older iPhones, But Explains Why

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Just under two weeks ago, a Reddit user wrote how Apple was throttling older iPhones with older batteries, as after a battery replacement on his iPhone 6s, performance improved in Geekbench scores.

Earlier this week, John Poole from Primate the Labs, the Toronto-based company behind Geekbench, confirmed these findings.

Now, Apple has provided an explanation to TechCrunch, admitting for the first time they do indeed throttle older iPhones, but it’s to prevent devices from shutting down and protect electrical components, as batteries age over time:

“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.”

A year ago, Apple started to replace iPhone 6/6s batteries in China after users experienced their phones unexpectedly shutting down. A similar program was launched in Canada and the USA, for the iPhone 6s.

Apple clearly should have done a better job communicating this battery “feature” to customers, instead of having them hear about it from third parties. That’s when conspiracy theories fly, and it makes it hard for customers to acknowledge official statements after the fact.

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  • Riddlemethis

    Wow. So iOS updates on older phones coupled with battery throttling is a good thing? I think Apple just opened themselves up to a major class action lawsuit.

  • mcfilmmakers

    My wife’s iPhone 6 outright turns off when she goes outside because of the cold rewgardless of remaining battery charge!

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Given that not all iPhone models have this problem, this is a design flaw of the models they specified. They advertised how much faster these flawed phones where as compared to their previous phones. Now we find out that’s only true when the phones are new. I would consider this false advertising. I would also expect Apple to fix the problem with batteries that work as advertised and not sneak an update that slows down my phone and call it done.

  • My 1/2 cents

    Where does it say that this issue is model specific?

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    “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“

    These are the models that users complained about shutting down before their batteries were even low.

  • My 1/2 cents

    Fair enough. The above article says:

    “Apple has provided an explanation to TechCrunch, admitting for the first time they do indeed throttle older iPhones, but it’s to prevent devices from shutting down and protect electrical components, as batteries age over time”

    The iPhone 7 is now an older phone and I believe it too will be affected unless Apple is forced to remedy the issue.

    I don’t see how anyone with common sense and thinking skills could possible accept Apple’s reasoning for throttling the device aside from you getting frustrated and forcing to update to a new phone.

  • sully54

    That’s just a limitation of lithium ion batteries in general. It’s very sensitive to cold or hot temperatures.

  • It’s Me

    For what? Power management and performance management systems? It’s nit like every single smartphone in the world doesn’t have power and performance algorithms that adjust performance on the fly based on conditions.

  • Lonetreejim

    I would be interested in knowing if older iOS devices are slowed even when they’re plugged into the charger. Obviously the condition of the battery would not come into play.

  • Bill___A

    They should disclose what they’re doing as well as have a setting so one can decide not to do this. It is not a good reflection upon Apple to do this without consent or advice.

  • Riddlemethis

    Your attitude is very sheepish. Do you always defend Apple regardless of any wrong doing like Samsung sheeple did with the Note?

    If Apple’s true intentions had the user in mind and not have ulterior motives for them to buy a new iPhone they would’ve implemented a simple feature to warn you that your battery is degrading and it should be replaced. But no, they make you think you’re going mad and the slower performance is merely psychological.

  • It’s Me

    It isn’t defending Apple to point poor arguments based on ignorance and misguided speculation.

  • Michal

    yeah, nothing to do with the code apple specifically put in there to do this…or possibly she’s using the phone wrong? lol. millions of phones operating just fine in the cold.

  • JP

    They will be hit by a class action. Not for throttling performances to deal with a degrading battery. For not telling.
    I am affected, I did run benchmarks (note: I have better marks with the phone plugged into the charger) and it tells me my 2 years and 3 months old phone is running at half the speed it should. If I was warned by “we’re limiting speed because your battery is too old”, I would have had the battery replaced. Instead I was left blaming new iOS versions or whatever for my phone being slow. And I guess I already had the issue when my warranty expired 3 months ago, but I can’t prove it…
    I get the reason they do it (and agree, slow phone is better than randomly dying phone). But not telling is definitely not OK.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Then explain why mine doesn’t it why hers didn’t used to do that before updating

  • Ned K.

    At least let consumers know! You Apple is going back to pre-Jobs era. Good luck.

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