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iPhone Performance Degrades as Battery Ages (geekbench.com)
456 points by Deinos on Dec 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 259 comments



I feel like more transparency would have been welcomed, but aside from that this is a "no win" situation, since you have to pick a winner:

- Do you degrade performance but leave screen-on time relatively unchanged?

- Do you degrade screen-on time but leave performance relatively unchanged?

Most Android devices seem to do the opposite (lose screen-on time, but keep performance relatively unchanged). Different people will have a different perspective on what the "right" strategy is for this, but I think we can all agree that better transparency and maybe even leaving it to the consumer to make the choice would be welcome.

PS - "Planned obsolescence" only applies if Apple was doing this artificially. It seems like if they didn't degrade performance you'd lose screen-on time instead, so you'd still likely replace the handset and perhaps even sooner (since core services e.g. calling, texting, etc, work even with lower performance but not on a phone out of juice).


> Do you degrade screen-on time but leave performance relatively unchanged?

I don't think Screen on Time is the concern (though I admit that article isn't extremely clear). Given that devices were shutting down at 40% capacity I think it was more of a brown-out condition, where the device shut down despite having more energy left in the battery.

Given:

1. Battery voltage decreases as charge decreases.

2. Battery voltage sags as current draw increases, due to internal resistance.

3. Internal resistance increases with battery wear.

4. If battery voltage drops too low the phone will turn off.

a moment of high current draw could cause a device to suddenly shut down. Since this issue was endemic to 6S devices, perhaps some unusually large number of those batteries had unusually high internal resistance due to wear.

If this were the case the fix would be to reduce peak power draw and thus peak performance. This change would be especially evident in geekbench, but could also affect regular usage since mobile devices typically try to alternate (sleep) -> (high performance) -> (sleep).


The solution is a battery you can replace, like every phone used to have.

There aren’t only two solutions to this problem.

(Technically you can still replace the iPhone battery, unfortunately it isn’t trivial like in the bad old days when phones didn’t have high def touch screens.)


This isn't a solution. It's a trade off like every other decision.


Yeah thats true it’s a tradeoff, but by that definition there are no solutions to anything.

So I’d argue it’s both a solution and a tradeoff.


There are definitely still solutions.


Other than:

1. Allow performance to degrade

2. Allow longevity to degrade

3. Allow the battery to be replaced

4. Some revolutionary battery technology that doesn't degrade??

What solutions are you thinking of?


Well, they've actually done kinetic charging smartphones, but it had a battery and i believe it was extremely expensive.

So if you did that and instead of a battery combined it with a (relatively large) capacitor (or some sort of amazing spring) you could have the iPhone equivalent of a shake and shine flashlight. (One bonus being that there would be absolutely no holes, as it would not be possible to charge it via a wall outlet).

It would be completely impractical, but there wouldn't be a battery, so the battery wouldn't degrade. The alternative storage mechanism might degrade, and who knows what all of the shaking would do to the delicate electronics, likely nothing good.

Anyway, I think it'll catch on. I look forward to watching young people on the train shake their iPhone vigorously before making a silly face and taking a picture of themselves in 10 years time.


Let the user toggle between 1 and 2? Which could be useful for new phones where, even though currently full, you know you won’t be able to charge next.


> Let the user toggle between 1 and 2?

Wrong company, pal. Apple historically decides for the user. Heck, they still do it with their App Store. Often that may go right, but not always.


Apple already includes a low power mode toggle. It could be updated or altered to account for this.


For comparison, my Samsung phones have had CPU underclocking in the low power modes. I'm not sure if that's true of all Androids or not.


Immagine having a car whose gas tank you are not allowed to refill...


Imagine a car with a gas tank that shrinks over time, and whose top speed drops accordingly.

Imagine that some cars allow the gas tank to be changed by the user. But this one doesn't.

Imagine the company that makes the car never mentions the shrinkage or the gradual reduction in top speed, and has no program or system that allows you to fix this - beyond buying a newer car.


>Imagine the company that makes the car never mentions the shrinkage or the gradual reduction in top speed, and has no program or system that allows you to fix this - beyond buying a newer car. They'll replace the battery for you, or there are a ton of 3rd party places that'll do it.


Car producer must by law provide spare parts for 10 years. It should be per law that the battery is exchangeable.


Besides the fact that car/device analogies are always flawed, yours is approaching it from the wrong angle in the first place. The "tank" is the physical battery, and we "refill" it by recharging it. Apple wouldn't stop its users from recharging the phone, that would be insane.

To try to salvage your analogy, I'll put forth an anecdote. Last year I restored my deceased father's 1988 Bronco II. One of the issues it had was low fuel pressure, which I narrowed down to the in-tank fuel pump (the Bronco was over-engineered and had two pumps, one in the tank and one on the frame). It wasn't able to push fuel fast enough for the engine to run at top performance. Sound familiar? So I had two choices, replace it myself or take it to a shop, kind of like how you can attempt to replace your phone's battery if you know what you're doing, or take it to a repair shop and let a pro do it for a fee. I'm a competent shadetree mechanic, so I did it myself and saved a few hundred dollars, and it is back to normal operation again.


And yet, in this analogy, you can refill/recharge the tank/battery. And if your tank/battery becomes faulty, you can replace the tank/battery. Just like reality :-)


iPhones do have replaceable batteries, only not DIY. It's like $80 w/o warranty or AppleCare.

I've bought dozens of Android replacement batteries and the only batteries worth the cost of shipping were actual real OEM ones. And those always cost >$60. Knockoffs would start out decent and then die within a few weeks to months.

Apple's approach gets my vote. You get the upside of built-in battery and the peace of mind when you do need a replacement.

[Just to balance that, let me be clear that Apple's choice with regard to crippling my phone pisses me off. I just replaced an iPhone 6 that felt painfully slow and now I know why (I had tested the battery and it was at 75% -- I didn't realize replacing it would speed up the phone).]


> iPhones do have replaceable batteries, only not DIY. It's like $80 w/o warranty or AppleCare.

The easiness of replacing the battery has gone up with iPhone 7/8/X compared to iPhone 6. You can verify this on iFixit guides. The iPhone 6 is _relatively_ easy to replace because you don't need say a heatgun. You do need some special screwdrivers which you gotta buy. You can, on iFixit. I just bought a whole kit (on sale during Black Friday).

> I've bought dozens of Android replacement batteries and the only batteries worth the cost of shipping were actual real OEM ones. And those always cost >$60.

20 EUR for mine: https://shop.fairphone.com/en/spare-parts/fairphone-2-batter...

Replacing any parts on my phone is very easy. Only thing is that the main module with CPU board etc is ~300 EUR.


> iPhones do have replaceable batteries, only not DIY

It really is DIY. There are thousands of guide that can be followed successfully.


It's pretty tricky though, and even for a tinkerer it's not trivial. I changed screens, home buttons etc, and find that much easier than changing batteries. I haven't failed to replace a screen on neither the 5 or the 6, but I failed with a battery on the 6, due to broken battery tab and not enough guts to heat/bend it out (I left it for someone else).

Now, I completely agree with the design decisions of the iPhone. The completely sealed body is great for water resistance and having the battery replaced is still pretty cheap, especially if you use (I usually just let someone replace with a 3rd party battery for cheap, as this usually takes place after warranty expired).

The battery needs to have extra space (or bad things will happen) so it effectively has to be fixed on one side inside the body. Gluing it is a pretty cheap solution to that problem.


I replace my iPhone battery with a cheap one off eBay every year or two when something else breaks. Battery life is pretty good, but the screen pops up now making the phone 0.5mm thicker. It's doing OK for a 5 year old phone, but my friends can't believe I paid $800 for an iPhone 5.


If the screen is popping up, that condition might be trigerred by a swollen battery.

My iPhone 5 also did that, after a while, it worsened so much that the screen colors became affected. I took it to an apple store, paid the fee and had them replace the battery.

IMHO a swollen battery is a huge risk, and apple should have replaced my phone without charge.

Anyways, be careful and if the battery is swollen, it's time for yet another battery change :)


My first battery was definitely swollen, and this may be why the screen doesn't snap back into place.


>I replace my iPhone battery with a cheap one off eBay

A great way to increase the odds of an explosion near your face or office desk!


I don't understand. Why did you pay $800 for an iPhone 5?


Maybe the poster is talking about total sunk cost of phone and all of the batteries


That's what a 64GB iPhone 5 cost at the time.


> unfortunately it isn’t trivial

With a good heat gun and toolkit, it's doable in anything from 15-30 min (more if the case is bent or damaged from falls).


That pretty much meets my definition of "not trivial".

In most Android phones (the ones I have used, at least), replacing the battery took less than one minute.


If anything his seems like a reaction to the yearly ‘planned obselescense’ stuff where people claim Apple killed their battery life to make them upgrade.

People don’t want to lose battery life? Ok, we can adjust so it doesn’t change much over the life of the phone.

Of course that just lead to ‘Apple slows your phone down’.

You’re right, it’s a tough spot.


Another idea: Apple could pop up a dialog at a certain point saying your battery is sub-optimal (but not doomed) and you should replace it for the best experience.

I’m sure that would go over GREAT.


The battery settings do say "battery needs service" once the battery is degraded, and most people are aware that their battery is bad.

Most people don't understand that the degraded battery is the cause of the performance issues (its not very intuitive), so they should explicitely say that.


My iPhone 6S CPU freq is now capped at 911 MHz, which is half the nominal freq. Battery settings say nothing about that.


I‘ve never seen this notification once, having had multiple iPhones that browned-out at 40%.


It's not a notification; you have to poke around in Settings.


My 2011 MacBook Air has been saying this for YEARS


I know they do it when the battery gets really bad, they could move it up to happen sooner. I just imagine it would fit into the planned obsolescence narrative too easily.


My 2014 MBA has recently started saying this, but I haven’t noticed any sudden change in battery life, I still get 5-6 hours.


It’s based on a certain number of charge “cycles” and not necessarily actual remaining capacity. When I was working as a “Genius” equivalent for an Apple reseller about five years back the number of cycles before that warning would pop up was around 500.


500 seems like a fairly low number to me, I'm surprised it's not more like 1000.


That would cost Apple a lot if those people had Apple Care. Better for Apple if the minority people who perceive a problem come in and ask for a replacement/


That wouldn't be any different from now or what they do with laptops.

For laptops, as part of their hardware test they had a chart for the battery. The expected cycle count was listed in quite a few places (it was 200 for removable batteries and jumped to 1000 when they started making them non-removable). X was the cycle count and Y was the battery's maximum charge (I tried to find pics, but couldn't). The chart had a diagonal red line marked "defective." They replaced your battery if it was within the defective range, but not if your cycle count was too high.

Phones aren't any different, they're just more hand-wavy about the battery (they don't show or mention cycle-counts).


They can just exclude normal battery wear, or they could increase the price of iPhone Apple Care to include one free battery replacement and then advertise that you're basiclly getting a free battery.


I think out of the two options, Apple picked the far more deceptive one, or at least the one that will be perceived to be deceptive (which IMO is the same thing). Few people would be surprised that batteries degrade over time, eventually causing noticeable drops in battery life, many people seem surprised that performance is intentionally and artificially reduced over time.


No. People are generally not educated enough about electronics to understand that batteries degrade over time. The most common way this manifests is “this phone sucks the battery dies in 10 minutes zomg I’ll never buy x phone again!”.

Your phone battery has been abused for years and you expect it to hold a charge?!

It’s a much much better decision to slow it down than let the phone die.


>No. People are generally not educated enough about electronics to understand that batteries degrade over time. The most common way this manifests is “this phone sucks the battery dies in 10 minutes zomg I’ll never buy x phone again!”.

This would be a non educated (and possibly excessive) reaction, but - given the success of the iPhone - what happens in reality is that another (still non educated and still excessive) reaction happens:

“this phone sucks the battery dies in 10 minutes zomg I’ll go and buy the new x phone!”.


I completely disagree. Apple chose to have the phone continue to work all day. That will keep it useful more than being fast.

A better option is a larger battery, but without that, I think they make more customers happy than I'd they did the alternative.


Nothing you've expressed is an effective counterclaim to the assertion that Apple chose a more deceptive route to dealing with the inevitable degradation of batteries in its devices.

On balance, the expected behavior for an aging phone is to suffer from decreased battery life as total battery cycles increase. Apple instead has chosen to decrease system performance to hide diminished battery life, and failed to disclose this. This kind of behavior wouldn't be tolerated in other market segments. Can you imagine the public backlash against an auto manufacturer that shipped a vehicle which intentionally decreased performance as its fuel tank drained in order to boost their 'maximum range' metric, but never disclosed this 'feature' to the public?


Are you sure they don't do that?

https://www.quora.com/Why-does-my-car-feel-more-powerful-aft...

A couple of people there speculate that's what happens to them.

I doubt there would be much backlash - stranding a driver with an empty tank is about the worst thing that could happen short of a breakdown. "Yes of course we do everything we can to help you get to a fuel stop"


For people familiar with electronics yes. Most people don’t understand this and think the phone is a cheap piece of crap if the battery starts dying early.


I highly doubt this, devices with batteries are near ubiquitous in many places and have been for decades now. "Electronics" knowledge or not, people have used batteries and will have noticed that over time its life goes down.


>For people familiar with electronics yes.

Familiarity with electronics doesn't matter. We can't allow vendors to simply simply cover up what are normal behaviors from components given typical operating conditions.


Yeah we can, that's how vendors make products better than the sum of their components.

Nobody wants a DVD player which throws up an error and stops playing if the disk is scratched, compared to retrying then skipping on a few frames.

Nobody wants a streaming video which stops playing if there's temporary bandwidth problems instead of pixelating briefly and coming back.

Nobody wants ECC memory or hard disk error correction or parity bits removed and corrupt data to become more common because it's "normal behaviour".

Nobody wants fanless video cards that overheat and break permanently instead of slowing down a bit and staying working.

People do want run-flat tyres because they'd rather keep going instead of getting normal behaviour of hitting something sharp.

People do want sat nav which recalculates the route in the case of "typical operating conditions" of making a wrong turn, covering up the normal behaviour of "giving bad directions from then on" with much more useful behaviour of "giving good directions".


With the exception of DVD and hard disk bad sector error correction, none of your examples are relevant because they are temporary conditions that are reversible. With persistent media failures there is an issue of data at stake, and replacement would cause data loss, so the next best action is to recover as much as possible. It's already in failure mode. In all of these cases graceful recovery is appropriate because there is no other alternative.

Apple does have an alternative. The battery issue is neither irreversible nor has any permanent ramifications to the remedy of just replacing the f-ing battery. In fact I have no problem with graceful degradation as a stopgap. Explicit Power Saving modes already do that.

But the issue at hand is completely orthogonal and has to do with why Apple refuses to, at the same time as undervolting, also signal to the user the one sane action to take, which is to obtain a battery replacement. By not signaling such and misdirecting (whether intentional or not), they are passive-aggressively telling the user to replace the entire phone. How else would a typical user interpret this situation? In what way could they know the appropriate action to take from observation? You think a company that prides itself on every meticulous detail of the UX just "missed" this?


Spot on! Thank you. The companies that make electronics “softer” usually provide a better experience to users.

Yes it would be great if everyone went to Shenzhen and made their own iPhone from scratch but I’d much rather Apple handle the details for me and my parents and grandparents...

I’m the only one that would be slightly entertained by the harsh realities of batteries being used under duress.


A larger battery isn’t going to solve the problem of degradation, unless they limited battery life in software until the battery degraded below that limit, which would be absurd.


This is not a binary choice. If Apple had had good intentions, they could have (a) set back the clock speed to 100% when plugged in, so you can at least use you phone properly when it is not using the battery, (b) provide a setting for users to choose between the two choices you provide, (c) tell users that a battery change will fix the slowness rather than making them infer that they need a faster phone.


Let me choose performance vs time?

They already let you choose lower mode on charge < 20%, why not extend it for older devices.

... unless they would rather I just buy a new device.


This post is written as if it wasn't Apple that introduced the hard-glued battery. They made a consumable hard to replace and backed themselves fully willing into this "no win" situation. And now they are not being forthright about the tradeoffs they made and certainly aren't making an effort to fix any of it. That is planned obsolescence.

These batteries can be replaced but Apples absolute refusal to enable customer or 3rd party repair make all of this infinitely more difficult.

(It's not just screen-on time, a naturally expected decline in operating time. As the batteries age resistance goes up and peak currents decline, so in some circumstances the device would actually hard turn off)


> This post is written as if it wasn't Apple that introduced the hard-glued battery. They made a consumable hard to replace

As others have pointed out in this thread the batteries aren’t hard to replace; this is just not something you can do directly as a user. That probably makes sense; it’d be difficult to make a super-thin smartphone while at the same time provide an easy way to replace each part.


The problem isn't necessarily the replacement, even though it's certainly not for a large majority of iPhone customers. The problem is sourcing the battery in the first place. Apple certainly isn't supplying any of them.

In the best case you get one that works properly, if you're unlucky you might get one that has lower capacity, and if you're very unlucky you might just get one that puffs up and catches on fire.


> The problem is sourcing the battery in the first place.

Not really! iFixit and others have done the hard work for you there (I work at iFixit).


They’re not user replaceable. Apple and their certified shops will absolutely repair the battery for you, although I don’t know how many generations of iPhones they support.


That they are not user replaceable is not under any dispute. The question is why.


These are completely unfounded guesses. You have no basis upon which to determine whether it's "difficult."


> These are completely unfounded guesses. You have no basis upon which to determine whether it's "difficult."

Those are guesses, which is why I used "probably" and "it’d be". Glueing parts together takes less space so it makes sense they use that to make phones thinner. I’ve yet to find a single smartphone with the iPhone 7’s thickness and a replaceable battery. The Fair Phone has a replaceable battery, but it’s thicker than every iPhone since the 3GS from 8 years ago.


It’s not a guess. Phones with removable batteries are thicker than “unibody” phones. Sorry but that’s kind of obvious.

If you need a reference: https://www.cnet.com/news/its-time-to-kiss-that-removable-sm...


How about a bigger battery? My primary criterion with each iPhone purchase is which has longest battery life.


Apple has decided that people want to buy razorthin phones and there is just not way to fit a large battery in there.

I wish there were phones built like the old IBM thinkpads. Bulky, square, ugly but also indestructible and fully user servicable with replaceable batteries.


Not thin; light. Phone makers make phones lighter so that people can hold them up longer before their hands get tired. A battery is massy, however dense it is, whatever the shape. You can only add so much battery before your phone gets too heavy to comfortably hold. (Unlike, say, an external camera lens, which increases volume but not really mass.)

Thinness is just a side-effect of lightness, because the alternative—a “hollow” unevenly-dense phone—would be awkward and unbalanced in the hand. You make a phone lighter, keep the screen size the same, repack it to an even density to keep its center of gravity the same... oops, it’s thinner now.


>Not thin; light.

An interesting thought, but is it true? I cant really think of people complaining of arm fatigue from holding up a ~150-200g phone -- the effort of holding up your arm and hand alone are going to be substantially more than additional weight of the phone.

I also dont really see any evidence of phone manufacturers decreasing weight over the years, at least with a quick review of Apple's iPhones, which have definitely increased in weight over the past decade.


They don't complain, no. It's not a user-requested feature. But it's been observed (in at least one internal study I know of) that people just end up using their phones longer, the lighter they are.

And increasing the length of a phone use-session is important, because it "unlocks" experiences people wouldn't otherwise bother with, that might then increase their total satisfaction with the ecosystem, and so increase brand loyalty. For example, some people just don't want to read books on their phones... but hand them a lighter phone, and they suddenly change their minds. They don't realize that that's the difference; it just is. And this might be the first device that got them to read e-books—which means they now associate the positive feelings of reading books in situations they wouldn't have otherwise been reading, with your device.

> which have definitely increased in weight over the past decade

They do increase, but only to a point; far less than if it weren't an optimization problem between increasing battery mass to power the features promised, vs. decreasing total mass.

Also of note is the fact that as phones are made more durable, people use cases less, which decreases total in-hand weight. So switching various pieces from plastic to aluminum, or one type of glass to another, may be a win even if it increases the base mass of the phone, as long as it decreases the probability that the user will feel the need to buy a case.


iPhones haven’t increased monotonically. The iPhone 5 was significantly lighter than the 4s, which was by far my favorite feature of that upgrade. Then they started creeping up, which the exception of the 7 (which was slightly lighter than the 6s) and the SE (which is essentially the 5 form factor).

The iPhone X is significantly heavier than any previous (non-plus) iPhone, which is by far my biggest complaint about it.


iPhones have been gaining weight since 6.


>> Apple has decided that people want to buy razorthin phones

I wonder what percentage people who buy those razorthin phones end up adding a millimeter or more to their phones by adding tempered glass screen protectors and cases over them. IMO, that defeats the purpose of the thinness.


I once had a phone with a removable back, and a special case designed to hold a massive battery in place without the back plate. Sucker was almost like a brick in your hand, but I've got huge hands, and I LOVED the fact that my battery would last for nearly a week with intense usage(I read books, like, all the freaking time on my phone)


Actually, no. Due to the thinness, I can add a protector that adds just enough so the thickness feels right to me. A thicker phone would necessitate a thicker protector that would make it difficult remove the phone from my front left pocket where I always carry it.


One might make the argument that a thicker phone could be more durable and not require such a protector.


A thicker phone (presumably due to a larger battery) doesn't necessarily solve the problem of fragile front and back materials (glass).


Since I'm the most clumsy person of all time, I have to add these two things to any phone. It being pretty thin, it still fits my hand pretty good.


Not if you're factoring that in with the thinness. I've bought a thinner phone over a larger phone specifically because I know that the total size of the phone + case fits in my pocket better. Especially when using something like a Lifeproof/Otterbox/Tank case...


It doesn’t defeat the purpose of the thinness, most obviously because screen protectors and cases are optional.


Contrary to popular opinion Thinkpads are not durable as they seem. There are various conditions such as deep coma (when the laptop won't wake from a sleep) or random shutdowns unrelated to heat/any observable cause etc.

I thought my thinkpad x201 was like a tank, but then random shutdowns became more frequent. I disassambled the laptop 4-5 times, replaced thermal paste, checked connections, replaced all software (including BIOS), couldn't find a solution. Then I stumbled upon a 45 page thread at the lenovo support forum. Many people were claiming the existence of the exact problem, but the only solution was to "replace the motherboard".

At least, apple offers world-wide decent for their products. With used thinkpads, you're basically on your own, no matter how tech-savvy you are.

If I were to purchase another laptop for on-the-go usage I will think twice before opting out for a thinkpad for it's durability.

Thinkpads are marvelous machines, but in my experience not all that glitters is gold :).


*current thinkpads can also still do this.

I switched from a MBP to a ThinkPad because of Apple's decisions with product design; performance sacrificed for purely aesthetic reasons.


Sounds a bit like Fairphone (well, not the ugly part)

https://www.fairphone.com/en/


It's cool that they have two SIM slots and an SD slot. I wish more phones had that. But the removable battery doesn't seem to be particularly large.


Its not, and its a smartphone from 2015 with a SD800 with 2 GB RAM. There's a lot of pros and cons about it, but at least you can repair the components yourself. Just the other day I installed a new camera module, all on my own. I also replaced the battery. For a mere 20 EUR. (The camera module was front + back for 75 EUR.)


If the battery capcity could be increased to the point where I didn't need to worry about charging it every day (night), like an old feature phone, then I would see the point. Otherwise I'm agreeing with apple - let's make the hardware faster and the screen brighter instead and just make sure the battery lasts a whole day.

Having e.g. 50% more battery wouldn't do anything for me. It would save me that one day per year when I'm using a ton of GPS/video and actually run out of battery before I go to bed, but that's about it. I'd still have to remember to charge it every night.


> and just make sure the battery lasts a whole day.

But the problem is that the iPhones seems to last a day only when they are new-ish and there is no safety buffer down the road. If it is fine on release day it will not be fine after 2 years if there additional capacity build in.


Yes, that's a perfectly valid point - if they made it last 150% of a day on release they could ensure it lasts 100% of a day after two years without having to throttle the hardware.

I'm all for that - I do want all the power of the hardware and a full days charge, for the whole lifetime of the phone.

Unfortunately it's very much in the sellers interest to not do this. If they make it last 100% of a dayt on release they can instead make it cheaper/lighter/more powerful, AND if they throttle or make it behave worse some other way after 2 years, they also make it obsolete at just the right point in time.


They offer bigger batteries in the form of the Plus and now the X.

They’ve obviously determined that it’s not worth it on the regular iPhone. I guess their surveys and stuff show that their customers would rather have the thin phone, on the whole.


The X has worse battery life than the plus so i got the 8+.


Really? I know it had more than my 7. I guess I misremembered.


Sounds like a blackberry and we know how that turned out for them in the current market.


> there is just not way to fit a large battery in there

And if they do find a way, they'll just make the phone even thinner instead.

It's not about Apple not being able to do it. It's about their priorities. And in this case their priorities seem to coincide (as if by magic) with getting people to upgrade the phones faster.

It's especially silly when you consider that Apple, a design-focused company, is making phones thinner despite using very obvious camera bumps on their phones -- a clear sign that maybe their phones shouldn't be that thin.


Or a battery that can be replaced.


It's replacable, either DIY if you tinker for <5% of the cost of the phone, or under warranty for ~10% of the cost of the phone. It's typically done either 0 or 1 time over the lifespan of a phone. I can't really see how that's a big problem. I haven't owned an iPhone yet that hasn't done 2 screen replacements for every battery replacement - and changing battery when you are changing screen is even cheaper.

I wouldn't want to have a user replacable battery behind a hatch if it made the phone worse in any way (less water sealed, less sturdy etc).


You make your phone buying decision based on the advertised performance of the device. To sell you one level of performance then subtly take that away I would call dishonest.


My "friend" started to be aggresive and supporting this Apple explanation. It feels to me they behave like addicted. They need a new iPhone dose for xmass this year.


The interesting fact is that Android 7+ scales down the UI effects in case of bad battery life and I suspect even on bad battery status.

iOS could do the same, scaling down those useless effects and transparencies, boosting performance and guaranteeing a more qualitative experience.


iOS has had low-power mode for some time, which disables some of the most power-hungry UI effects and background processes.


I am sure they could make an iPhone with replaceable batteries. I actually wouldn't mind paying $100 every 18-24 months for a genuine iPhone battery replacement if the perf and battery life is restored with that. But of course they won't.

If iPhone X lasted 5 years with the same perf and battery life with two $100 battery replacements, I would happily shell out $1200 for it. But I know it won't last more than 2 years (like almost every other phone at this point), and then the math doesn't work out for me.


Of course Apple can make an iPhone with a replaceable battery. A small Chinese company made an Android-based iPhone 4/5 clone with one, and also the option of having a 50% larger battery with a slightly thicker phone:

http://www.jiayu-store.com/jiayu-g5-quad-core-mtk6589-4-5-in...

https://www.gizchina.com/2013/11/07/jiayu-g5-unboxing-hands-...

The Jiayu also has dual SIM, microSD, USB, and costs a fraction of the Apple while having a more rigid and expensive housing (stainless steel, not aluminium.) Apple could, if they wanted to, make a phone with as much user-friendly features if not more, but they deliberately chose not to.


I was wrong and Apple does replace battery for a very reasonable fee of $79 (https://support.apple.com/iphone/repair/battery-power). Hmph. TIL! Can't edit the original post any more so I'll leave this here.


It would be better if it where user adjustable since they know what they need in their situation.


> Most Android devices seem to do the opposite (lose screen-on time, but keep performance relatively unchanged).

I'm guessing this is why my previous Samsung phone used to unexpectedly restart, and semi-predictably do so when I activated the torch. I never realised it could have been due to the battery output dropping.


c) You tell the user what's going on and let them decide whether performance or battery life is more important to them.


With Apple being Apple, I think they can do it in an Apple way and degrade screen-on time for performance, switching it to favor battery whenever you turn on the "Low Power Mode" setting. Simple binary decision in the user's hands. I would also put "Conserve Battery" in the control center.


This is already a (separate) thing, though. When battery life drops to 20% (and then again at 10%), iOS devices suggest that you enable "Low Power Mode."

In effect, right now, on old devices, Low Power Mode is always either fully-enabled, or half-enabled, but never fully-disabled. All they'd have to do is to change it from a binary switch (between enabled and {disabled, secretly half-enabled}) to a three-level switch.


You can put Low Power Mode in Control Center on iOS 11


The problem here isn’t that iOS throttles the CPU when your battery can no longer properly power the phone.

(This is a really nice feature, compared to, e.g., sudden shutdown when voltage drops too low to run the CPU at normal speed.)

The problem is that iOS doesn’t alert you about what’s happening. If it said something like, “Your battery needs to be replaced. Until it is, your phone will run with reduced speed.” Then you would have the information you need to make an intelligent choice.

You have to suspect Apple doesn’t do this because if you don’t know what’s going on you’re likely to assume your phone is just old and needs to be replaced.


It does do that.. it tells you your battery needs servicing.


Maybe it warns when the problem gets more severe. But the problem described here is when the battery still has as much as 80% capacity.

Source: I have 6s+, noticed it was slow recently, after some updates but not right after. Read about this. Got GeekBench and battery test. It tests normal when the battery is full, slower when battery is less full.


Just because it’s interesting to compare: it was worse for me. My 6 Plus (three years old) ran at 600Mhz most of the time according to CPU DasherX, fully charged or not. Normal is 1400Mhz. I replaced the battery this morning and it’s back to the normal level and is quite noticeable in real-world usage doing practically anything.

(It wouldn’t surprise me if the GPU or something else in the rendering pipeline was even more affected than the CPU. There were previously long delays in things that just seem to be screen rendering. Those delays aren’t just faster now, but are completely gone.)


FWIW I replaced my battery (at a reputable place but not Apple). Performance actually got Worse - now scoring less than half the GeekBench norm for this model.

Battery life is great, though!


There may be cases where it does, but it doesn’t seem to do so in this case — at least not where very many of the affected people can find it.

(Myself included. I’ve been noticing for a while that my 6 Plus was running dog slow. Thanks to all this coming out last week I just replaced my battery using a kit from Amazon, and indeed, it now runs well again.)


Where dp you see that?


Seems like everyone is forgetting the #1 failure in older phones. With today's technology phones are very power efficient, the manage a rather amazing number of circuits with different functionality. Things like CPU, GPU, display, backlight, battery monitor, accelerometer, gps, compass, bluetooth, wifi, wan, camera, NFC, microphone, dsp, light senors, proximity sensors, etc.

The vast majority of those circuits are sleeping pretty much all the time. However as you get older your battery keeps up.. except those challenging times when you activate too many things. Like say nav (that runs the GPS, GPU, 3D chip, CPU, radio, compass, etc). Then the phone just turns off because there's not enough voltage.

Many people complain about "crashing" phones, claiming less reliability over time. Seems like often it's just the battery that can't manage the needed number of volts under load. You can witness this when ever less intensive things crash, but they all work if you are plugged in.

The sad thing is that these new top of the line smart phones could be useful for 5-10 years. Fit/finish with glass/aluminum, top spec CPU/RAM, expandable storage, etc. Sadly the epoxied battery reduces the practical life to 2-3 years.

In what world would a modular/expandable phone (like has been attempted several times) decide you might want to add fancy speakers, fancy camera, 3d vision, etc. But STILL expoxy in the battery? WTF?

I wish the government would stem in and just mandate that phones have user replaceable batteries to keep them from just filling the landfills after a few years.


This is very enlightened. As a consumer, I personally do not care so much for a modular phone, yet I do pretty much care about maintaining the same level of performance for my current device. Swappable batteries to increase performance is/could be a good selling point for modular phones.


EU should make a rule like that


One of the main reasons I bought the LG V20. With easy to swap batteries, I plan to replace them every year or two and maintain a good screen time.


Why does this correlate so well with iOS version increments?

My iPhone 6 was faultless prior to the upgrade to iOS 11, and immediately after it battery life was greatly reduced and it now shuts down automatically when the battery hits 10%.

Apparently I am now supposed to accept that the battery has degraded not gradually but all at once and on the same day as I upgraded iOS, and this is now being managed for my benefit by the OS. Hmmm...


Also have an iPhone 6. I didn't plan to replace it this year until iOS 11 made it frustrating to use. My primary issue was constant Bluetooth disconnections.

Now I have an Android phone. (Not especially happy about it.)


In the same boat with my iPhone 6 and also curious. Day-to-night degradation after iOS 11.



> This will likely feed into the “planned obsolescence” narrative.

well, non-replaceable battery and all...


It's replaceable, just not as a DIY. Apple encourages people to take their phones into Apple stores/authorized dealers to get the battery replaced.

(Also, the repair is free if the battery's capacity has declined to <80% while under warranty. If you pay for two-year AppleCare+ [$99], you've basically pre-paid for a free battery replacement [normally also $99] at the two-year mark, as long as you've used—abused?—your phone heavily enough to wear its battery down by then. So, Bad Life ProTip: if you have AppleCare, make sure to run your battery flat a lot to get its capacity down, so as to get your money's worth.)


> If you buy 3-year AppleCare, you're effectively pre-paying for at least one battery top-up.)

Unless I'm missing something, AppleCare on new iPhones is limited to two years ... which, in my experience, is just shortly before iPhone batteries degrade noticeably.


The AppleCare itself lasts two years, but that’s in addition to the year you get by default. The two don’t run concurrently.

Edit: no, they do run concurrently. See child post.

GP’s edited the reference to 3 years anyway.


Curious if you have a source on that? I see otherwise here: https://www.apple.com/support/products/iphone.html

I bought a new iPhone about 48 hours ago and was told the same thing as shown above.


In fact, both are true. It just depends on where you live.

What he said is the case within the European Union due to some EU law regarding warranties. I believe in the EU an extended warranty like AppleCare only goes into effect after the original warranty has expired. There are also statutory warranty periods of a year (I think) for devices like the iPhone.

In the United States, on the other hand, AppleCare replaces the original warranty rather than adds onto it.

Here's a page describing AppleCare within the UK: https://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/, which lasts for three years instead of the two within the United States.


As you say there could be some legal jiggerypokery but Apple claim it's still only two years for an iPhone:

> Up to 2 years from date of purchase for Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple Watch or Apple Watch Sport

With the price of iDevices rising there's probably a "reasonability" court case brewing where someone argues that a £1200 iPhone X should last longer than 1/2 years.

Edit: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/gua... says the default statutory warranty should be 2 years. What a mess.


You are correct. derefr and tolien are incorrect.

iPhone comes with 1 year warranty. AppleCare+ extends that an additional year for a total of 2 years from purchase date.

From the site you linked above: "Every iPhone comes with one year of hardware repair coverage through its limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary support. AppleCare+ for iPhone extends your coverage to two years from the original purchase date of your iPhone and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage, each subject to a service fee of $29 for screen damage, or $99 for any other damage, plus applicable tax. In addition, you’ll get 24/7 priority access to Apple experts via chat or phone."


@tolien: Yeah I remember when AppleCare for Mac did that too. Not sure at what point it changed to "within 60 days of purchase."


Early this past summer when AppleCare for Mac became AppleCare+ for Mac.


Hmm, you’re right.

I think my confusion was that Mac AppleCare used to be advertised as an additional 2 years (you could buy it as your standard warranty expired) but it’s now advertised as 3 years from device purchase too. Wonder when that changed…


What people usually mean (and it used to mean only this) by a "removable"/"replaceable" battery is that you can change the battery entirely by hand in less than a minute, without needing any tools. Until recently, this was possible with just about every other smartphone except Apple's.


Wasn’t the first Samsung flagship to remove the replacement battery the Galaxy S6? It’s no coincidence that it was also the first in a line of Android flagships starting to even attempt to compete with Apple on build quality, which they now do.


You can DIY. It's really not that bad. I replaced the battery twice on my iPhone 6. The first time took me maybe 40 minutes, the second time went faster since I knew how to do it.

https://www.ifixit.com/Store/iPhone/iPhone-6-Replacement-Bat...


Haven't replaced the battery (yet) but did have to replace the screen on my iPhone 5, it really wasn't that bad all things considered...and by "all things" I mostly mean having to pay something like $120 to Apple.

Battery should be a cake walk.


> Apple encourages people to take their phones into Apple stores/authorized dealers to get the battery replaced.

Not in my experience. Bring your iphone to an apple shop and ask for the battery to be replaced. Apple will most likely refuse unless the battery is shown as severely damaged in the settings.


The <80% is such a junky metric though, as it's by whatever they calculate. Mine was determined to be 83% but the thing lasted till like Noon at the latest with minimal use.


Exactly. I don't trust their testing method at all. My new battery wasn't covered by Applecare because the phone also tested at 82% or 83%. I decided to look around the store at some new Macbooks for about 20 minutes and the phone completely died while still plugged in for testing.

They admitted that was unusual and just gave me a new battery.


Apple says that battery replacements are $79.

https://support.apple.com/iphone/repair/battery-power


After having retired a couple of phones due to crappy battery life, my most recent phone purchase has a removable battery. I'll probably buy a new battery in ~4 months, when the phone is a year old. I'm happy I decided to follow that path, because I really like the phone (LG G5), and a replacement battery is less than $20 USD.


I imagine most users would prefer their iphone to stay on for a reasonable period over being super zippy. And like the other commenters said, replacing the battery will fix the problem.


This was the final straw for me to move to Android. My 6S was unusably slow with iOS11. I'd rather this be something _I_ can control.

At the very least, the performance should improve if you plug in the phone, and it doesn't.

Edit: other thing I remember is that when I upgraded iOS10 at one point my battery _stopped_ being reliable. I was getting the unexpected shutdowns at <50%.

Another weird thing I had experienced: after every update, my battery percentage would be totally screwy. I'd burn from 100% -> 1% in no time, then sit at 1% for hours. Over charge cycles, it'd figure it out again, but that'd be reset every time I upgraded.

Edit 2: looks like I angered the fans. This is simply my experience. My geekbench scores were awful, so I was certainly impacted by this issue. I thought I'd done something wrong until this news came out.


Another anecdata:

Last night, I finally succumbed to iOS11 (the only reason I did was that I wanted to enroll in Heart Study, for which your iphone device has to be iOS11).

Indeed I had been pushing it away because I usually associate the word "upgrade" to device death when it comes to mobile devices.

But wow... it did not screw my 6S up. In fact, I think it's faster and 'zippier' with this iOS11 upgrade.


iPhone 7 user here and iOS 11 also made my device much, much faster.


My 6S+ was also literally unusable after the iOS11 update. 5 second hangs on some actions, jittery scrolling.

It improved after a few weeks. Not sure if it was an .x update that fixed it, or maybe it needed time to reindex (?) but it's fine now.


Except that it gets unbearably un-zippy. If battery life really gets so bad that Apple believes it will reflect poorly on their brand, then they could do in-store same day battery replacements. But that would cut into their profits wouldn't it.


You think they don't make money on $80 battery replacements?


Profit on the $80 is much less than profit on a $700+ new phone.


You can replace the batteries at both Apple stores and independent retailers. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/iphone-battery-replacement-diy-o...

The issue IMO, is it's not obvious that the battery needs to be replaced and when. It's not holding charge > new battery is far more obvious than it's slow > new battery. Most people probably prefer a slow phone than one without charge however Apple should have some indication of what's going on.


You really can't though. I had a phone with an awful battery-- it would shut off around 25% randomly. I brought it into Apple 3 times, it even had apple care-- and because the f*ing diagnostic suite identified the battery as good, they wouldn't replace it.

They wouldn't even LET ME PAY FOR THE REPAIR.


Agreed. I've been in 3 times. Every time I want to just pay for the replacement; they won't even offer the battery replacement if the diagnostic utility says the phone is good.

My phone randomly shuts down or rapidly loses battery once it is below 40%. It's even worse when it's cold.


That's exactly what's happening to me as well. I think it shows a battery percentage based on (old) current voltage which dramatically decreases with low temperature, i.e. when you pull your phone from warm pocket in cold weather.


> LET ME PAY FOR THE REPAIR.

Then you would know that it is totally their fault and the liability would be on Apple to fix other people's devices.


Same here. I went to a 3rd party place and they replaced it cheaper anyway, with no problems.


> You can replace the batteries at both Apple stores

Or you know, Apple could make it easy for the user to replace the battery by themselves. But they chose not to.


Know how I can tell you haven't designed any consumer products with a battery, replaceable or otherwise?

This is the engineering equivalent of saying, "Why doesn't someone just go to the Middle East, sit down at a round table with with the Israelis and Palestinians and Sunnis and Shiites and rebels and Baathists and Saudis and ISIS members and refugees and all those other guys, and help them work out their differences peacefully?"


Let's not pretend that Apple's hand was forced here. This is the company that dreamed up a proprietary screw to keep people out of their phones and computers.


It sounds like you’re describing the pentalobe screw, but security screws have existed for decades. Torx created variants with rejection pins in the 1970s. One-way screws have probably been around much longer than that.


And every single one of those had drivers you could buy in a pack with 50 other at Amazon for $10. They could have used any of them.

And yet, they didn't. The world didn't need yet another security screw.


Wow, Nintendo in the 1980s must have had Godlike powers, then: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=donkey+kong+battery+cover&...


Yeah, I'm sure you can build a half-trillion dollar company by selling phones in the same form factor as a Donkey Kong game.

If the market wanted such a thing, then guess what... the market would get it.


Please don't link to google searches. Everyone sees different results.


Thats besides the point. Is it possible to design phones that can be serviced in some ways by your users? the answer is clearly yes. Does Apple care about that? The answer is clearly no. They have been making designs that can't be easily opened for a long time now.


But it's not as cheap or easy as just popping the back of your phone and slipping in a new battery. Mind you, most flagship phones these days can't be refurbished in that way.


Have you tried the nearby "We repair iPhones" store? They can replace your battery for a lot less than a new phone.


I wouldn't say "degrades," will confuse non-tech readers. Makes it sound like the old battery also causes the CPU to age.

Something like "is intentionally reduced" may be more accurate.


How do non-apple devices cope as they age ? Any word on what Nexus, Galaxy or Pixel devices of a similar vintage do? does the performance stay the same but the battery life becomes shorter?


I worked on Android power perf (frequency scaling in particular) for the last 18 months and I'm not aware of any linkage with the battery state, except for the Battery Saver mode. So yeah same perf, just shorter life. There could be something in vendor Android builds I don't know about, but it isn't there in AOSP and almost certainly isn't in Pixel/Nexus.


I vaguely remember the dram and camera clock rates being reduced when the battery SoC went under 40% in the nexus 5, and then when users complained of early shutdowns when using the camera with HDR mode, an update changed it to 60%.

I think I even commented on the bugreport that it would be best to do the frequency scaling based on interrupts from the voltage regulators on board, but that piping all the necessary drivers/events to do that with low enough latency to not cause an under-voltage reset was far more work than was feasible.

Thats also why 60fps video dropped frames at the start of the video if you were recording video with less than 60% battery.

Anyone care to dig out the relevant commit...?


I have a Nexus 6P and its battery is going bad. It just shuts down when it reaches 20-30%. Kind of annoying because I never know quite how much battery life I actually have remaining.


I have a similar situation.

My Android (1st Gen Moto G, running Lineage OS, about 3 years old) shuts down once the battery level hits 15%. You can actually see it change from 15% to 1% for one brief moment before it shuts down.

Sure, the battery is old, but this behavior is unlike the behavior of any other OS/device I've seen. I've seen some laptops with seriously messed up batteries and as far as I can remember, the OS reports a smooth discharge profile without steep drops and without and strange "surprises".

I think Android is probably not taking battery health into account when it reports remaining capacity, but that is only a guess.


Can't it be a problem with the fuel gauge inacurately measuring the battery capacity? I have seen it only on one "cheap" Android device and I have been using Androids for a long time. Anyway, easily removable batteries are the way to go.


My old MacBook Pro battery got so bad that it would jump down and back up 20% randomly.


I replaced the battery on my 6P, and it's like a new phone.

It is a bit tricky, but well worth it.


Same here, the phone is otherwise fine. I don't really want to go to a Pixel 2XL because I like having a headphone jack.


Effectively the same, but it just quickly degrades from 60-0 for me (like 20 mins of just reddit/hn).

100-60 is still decent.


Same here. I have to carry around an extra battery booster. :-/


That's really strange. Because most/all modern systems build statistics about your battery as it charges and drains, to predict the life left. Without those statistics they'd have no idea how long it will last because it changes over the life of the battery. In Linux you can even see pretty graphs showing "confidence" for each percentage of battery vs "how confident" Linux is of remaining power.

https://www.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/power_s...

My Samsung Android phone shuts down at 5-7% battery life. And the battery dies much faster these days. But it's never "inaccurate." It doesn't jump from 50% to 2% over a course of five minutes.

Other than something else being wrong with your OS, my only guess there would be the battery got bad so quickly the OS hasn't adapted to the new life cycle yet by removing enough of the old datapoints.


Most Android devices have rather severe issues with flash degradation (due to use of cheaper chips, controllers and connection... cheap MMC controllers are still very standard) which makes them practically unusable after a few years.


Most? Absolute nonsense. The Nexus 7 have a small issue that was resolved when Google added TRIM support for Android. That was years ago.

I have a long history with almost every Android device. The device doesn't get slower, the battery life just gets terrible.


My Nexus 6P's performance has degraded considerably over the past couple of years. It's actually quite laggy now. A few of my friends report the same with their 6Ps. To be fair I haven't tried factory resetting it in a while, although I shouldn't need to do that in the first place..


The 2012 Nexus 7 is an outlier because it has especially bad flash controller - by 2015 most of the devices were unusable due to degraded flash. TRIM helped very little.

Other devices suffer from similar effects - not as bad, but most devices certanly lose quite a bit of I/O performance (especially writes) over time which makes OS run noticably slower.


Flash degradation literally only affects writes. Android has had TRIM since 2013. Writes in no universe make the OS run "noticeably slower" (or lead to "lag"), even if your claim was proven.

There are literally billions of Android devices. Benchmarking file system performance is trivial. Ergo, where are the benchmarks supporting your broad claims? This should be incredibly easy to demonstrate. We do know that it happened pre TRIM because people had factory new and after use benchmarks, and could show the decline.


I've owned two low cost Moto G phones and never had this issue.


Is this true for flagship Android devices too?


Depends really, a lot of them nowdays use better flash controllers and technology (e.g. UFS) but only time can tell how they cope with aging. Pixels seem to be doing quite well.


I had a Nexus 5 before which I replaced of about 2 years after buying it. Can definitely say performance improved after that (for a short while though as it was a cheap ebay battery).


Electric cars have fundamentally the same problem and Tesla decided to attack it by hiding some of the battery's capacity when the car is new. While the car might report to the user it is 100% full, it might only be actually 90% full. The battery can therefore lose a decent percent of its capacity before the user will ever notice the difference. This decision was made because cars obviously have a longer ownership cycle than phones and a drastic drop in range as a car ages is a huge flaw. But I do wonder if any phone companies might start to rethink this decision now that we are seeing some people use the same smartphone for 3-5 years.


There is absolutely no evidence that Tesla is doing what you say. In fact, if they were, this curve https://images.hgmsites.net/med/tesla-model-s-mileage-vs-rem... would stay at 100% for a while instead of immediately dropping.


Yep, it looks like you are right. I was passing along second hand information that I never bothered to verify. After some Googling I learned apparently Tesla only hides capacity at the low end to prevent a user from being stranded. The default settings also prevent charging to 100%, but that is fully transparent to the user.


Thank you for looking! I've seen this "Tesla sandbags at the top" repeatedly on HN but you're the first person to respond when challenged.

BTW the car won't actually let you drive at low charge, so yes, you can be stranded because the car refuses to damage its battery. That's why it comes with a towing service.


Li-ion batteries also last longer when kept between 30% and 90%. Several car manufacturers don't let you completely charge or expend your battery for this reason.


Tesla, for example, encourages owners to not charge beyond 90%, and refuses you let you drive below some number, which is around 20%, that it hides from the driver.


I wonder how much driving style effects that too, racing around vs Driving Ms. Daisy?


Discharging lithium batteries at a high C rate (C = Instantaneous Draw / Capacity) causes a different form of degraded life than storage at a high state of charge. And the major killer of lithium batteries is heat, which Tesla are known to manage well.

The biggest killer, though, is storage with the graphite electrode more than 50% lithiated - there is a gigantic step-up in capacity fade when batteries are stored with the State of Charge over around 90%, which Tesla are very smart to avoid.

http://jes.ecsdl.org/content/163/9/A1872.full


Nexus 6P the phone will die randomly at random percentages. Sometimes you can turn it back on hours later and it'll last thirty minutes. Sometimes you have to "charge" it a little bit first. This issue happens at all percentages and I've had it for over 8 months now.


Still does not really explain why my 4S suffered from both after an iOS update: Reduced screen-on time and degraded performance at the same time, that was a couple of years ago tho. As a user, it's just utterly baffling how apps that used to work fine suddenly became near impossible to use, like messaging apps taking ages to type a word, the phone felt like a computer with too much bloatware running in the background, struggling with the most mundane tasks.

Since that happened I've been putting off installing the iOS updates because this degradation in performance, after an iOS update, has been way too common of a theme over the years.


Yes, one of the reason I switched to Android years ago (which has its own issues). But Apple makes people pay lot of money for "premium device" which has worse long-time usability than Android ones.


Wow, I thought Apple did this to make people buy newer iPhone. But Apple did it not only for that but also to hide the battery issue. Well done Tim :/


Related: If you have a Mac, you can check the health of an iPhone battery via the Console app when the phone is connected via USB. Search for the string "BatteryHealth", logged by the phone's Springboard process.


Handy. It didn't log "BatteryHealth" but other Battery infos. Do I miss something?

Stuff that I could see is the battery percentage, example:

``` default 08:44:30.015519 +0100 coreduetd CDDBatteryMonitor: received batterycallback, currentPercentage:94.555824! ```


"Battery Life" (Free) on the AppStore is good for checking stats as well.


Coconut Battery also shows this, albeit with a graphical interface.

You can install it via 'brew cask install coconutbattery'


Interesting that the battery aged extremely fast when iOS 11 got installed and took the performance down to the „really unpleasant“ level.


There are a billion iOS devices out there. It only stands to reason that for a LOT of these devices, battery performance would hit a critical level at around the same time iOS 11 got installed, just by coincidence. In addition, new iOS installs create a lot of extra battery load, increasing the chances of this occurring.


It's not just you. Take a look at the google trends data for "iphone slow": https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=iphone%2...


That chart would seem to indicate that every release of iOS (usually in September) results in some people experiencing their phone as slow. Except, strangely, for iOS 10 last year, which had an extremely minor bump in comparison to the rest.

Anyone know why? Was iOS 10 the "Snow Leopard of iOS releases", with more of a performance focus?


It is my understanding (possibly mistaken?), that after a major upgrade iOS reindexes spotlight metadata. This is done in the background, but drains battery and kind of makes the device perform a bit more slowly. Same day right after an upgrade, my phone tends to be a bit pokey and the battery drains pretty quickly. Next day after an upgrade, my phone usually "feels" fine again and battery life is back to normal.


I'm not sure that proves the iPhone gets slower with each update.

Whenever I announce an update my users suddenly become hyper-sensitive and start reporting bugs that have been present for weeks/months. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a similar effect here.


It's just an artifact of data. The data from iOS 11 is naturally going to be collected when the phones are older than iOS 10.x, because iOS 11 came out later (and because people are likely to only run geekbench when they get their phone or do a major OS update, rather than, say, running it on iOS 10.x immediately prior to upgrading to 11).


It's been slowing down over time but my anecdotal sense is the iOS 11 caused a substantial performance hit in my iPhone 6. When this story came out, I even got the geekbench app but the benchmark is right where it should be--a little higher in fact.


I think that if iPhone performance remains degraded while plugged into an outlet, there can be no other explanation aside from planned obsolescence. I haven’t seen any benchmarks to that end, however.


Relevant recent discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15889519


Can someone explain to me why (outside of this one issue) phones get so slow over time? As a professional programmer I though I understood computers but I clearly don't.

What's going on my phone that it grinds to a halt? Why does a factory reset sometimes help, but sometimes not?

It can't just be that the workloads are more resource intensive. If I go get an old tablet it will take 5x as long to load google.com as the day I bought it.


If I go get an old tablet it will take 5x as long to load google.com as the day I bought it.

Once upon a time, google.com was like five lines of HTML. Google loved to brag about how they didn't even close their tags, because the page still rendered and it saved bytes.

Now I measure it at 300+ lines and 200KB, not counting assets.

Same generally goes for every software you know and love.


This article does a good job of explaining the main reason: To retain runtime on a degraded battery, they underclock/undervolt the hardware.. drawing less power and producing less performance. This honestly accounts for mobile device performance loss in the majority of cases and it isn't iPhone or Apple-specific.

A resets might improve performance of the flash device if it frees up additional space or does something similar to an SSD "trim" event.


Pretty much. I was still using the original Galaxy S when the Galaxy S6 was the hot new toy. I was able to use it despite its archaic hardware on the latest versions of Android because I forced the CPU to always run at maximum speed instead of throttling. I couldn't get around the minimal amount of RAM that came installed with the phone, but the CPU trick helped immensely day to day.


This implies I could fix all my old phones with a new battery ... Could that possibly be true?


Probably. I replaced the battery in my iPhone 4S and iPhone 6 a little after a year. I did it mostly for more battery life, but I haven't noticed significant performance degradation.


If you load the exact same OS and the exact same browser+page, or the exact same app (same version) then if it's slower it's hardware, such as battery (which is described in the article).

If you take your 5yo tablet and load the 5years younger OS, a 5years younger app or a 5 year younger version of google, those are designed to be "usable" on modern hardware, and "just bearable" on your older hardware. So it's not apples to apples then. You are running an app (or page) that is much much fatter. And yes it even applies to the google front page.


Nitpicking about an otherwise well written post: why show a kernel density estimate instead of a simple histogram? It can be normalized if you don’t want reveal the exact number of samples.

Calculating a kernel density estimate just seems to add an unneccesary step between raw data and the visualization. It can hide some shortcomings in the data (e.g. low number of samples), but doesn’t add anything.


> Under iOS 11.2.0 the effect is even more pronounced.

No, the effect is exactly the same as you can see from the charts since they peak at the same benchmark scores. It is the distribution of those effects that is different, with the performance being negatively affected for more phones. But keep in mind that under iOS 11.2.0, most iPhone 6S's that are tested are probably about 2 years old. Under iOS 10.x, most iPhone 6S's probably about 1 year old. I'd like to know the distribution of the times that these Geekbench benchmarks were run. If scores for one phone model in one month are one average score under iOS (x) but is substantially lower the next month under iOS (x+1), then I would consider that to be a significant act of "planned obsolescence".

But really Apple should probably be more transparent about this. And the bottom line for users is that if you notice any kind of significant performance degradation, whether it is fast battery drainage or sluggish performance, you should consider taking the phone in.


Finally the data to prove what I’ve always felt. I knew my phones were getting slower even on the same iOS versions. I always assumed flash, but suspected that there was a time-based clock slowing... lo and behold! Fucking Apple, I’ll be happy to join the coming class action!


I feel the same applies to Macbook as well. I've a Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch, early 2015 at a battery cycle count of 1001. From the last few weeks, the system is terribly slow. I randomly see the fan speed going berserk. :/


Dust-clogged fans and degraded thermal paste can also be a factor, particularly after 3 years.

iFixit guide for removing your heatsink: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/MacBook+Pro+13-Inch+Retina+Disp...

My favorite thermal paste: https://noctua.at/en/nt-h1.html


Might be something wrong with your SMC or thermal throttling going on. Either way I'd suggest resetting the SMC and if that doesn't fix it check out Activity Monitor to see what's wrong.


Nothing really. I did reset the SMC couple of times and also check the Activity Monitor every time the fan speed increases, but to no avail.


Did you try running the hardware test? https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201257

I had a old Air which ran very slowly and fans spinning like crazy due to a issue with the cable from the keyboard/touchpad. Apparently if the SMC does not get proper signals it will go into a "failsafe" where things work but slowly.

Probably not the same issue, but just a little anecdote on a similar symptoms caused by different issues so that nobody gets tunnel vision on the battery, which might very well be the cause in this case.


Could be dirty. Google a cleaning guide for your model, the fans get all sorts of dusty and it causes thermal issues.


Looks like I need to replace the battery as it's near it's end of life - https://support.apple.com/en-in/HT201585


I had suspected that one of my iphone's RAM chips had gone bad, because the slow speed was as if it was swapping a lot

when I saw the reddit post I was like GTFO


Wow I was, wondering what the heck was happening with my Iphone 6 plus. I new it had something to do with the software update, but it makes sense now, they had to make a choice, so they limited the CPU based on battery...

At least it wasn't because they are trying to force us to upgrade. I'm going to try an update the battery and see if it makes a difference.


I have an iPhone 7. Run a test "Antutu benchmark" (The phone was connected to power) and it got "127823", according to their ranking, it should have "160864". 20% less. I would like to know, if this is the case or just coincidence.


I have iPhone 7 as well (almost year old) and got 156,473


iPhone performance degrades when new iPhones hit the market. xD


Is probably same for Android unless they operate at a lower voltage than the peak so no performance is degraded over a bigger, but at the expense overall lower performance.


looking at https://david-smith.org/iosversionstats/ and apparently still ±50% of currently active iPhones seem to be a 6(S)(+). Which is a LOT more than I expected. I don't see how Apple is going to ignore this one.


The point is that older batteries don't produce as much current as new ones do. So the CPU has to be speed-stepped down in order that the system doesn't brown out.

Not that this will stop the conspiracy loons foaming at the mouth in their apple hate, obviously.


Why isn’t this an issue with laptops as well as phones?


It is but you see less screen time instead of degraded performance. The suggestion here is that Apple is throttling the hardware via software in order to prevent reduced screen time.

Also, after 3-4 years with a laptop, you typically start to see decreased performance because of clogging of fans, degradation in the thermal paste, etc. This causes the CPU to run hotter and throttle sooner to stay inside of its thermal envelope.


Has anybody sued already? That seems like a huge issue.


If truly necessary it should be a user option.


I smell an antitrust ...


This has nothing to do with a monopoly, so antitrust law is totally not applicable here. You might be thinking "class action lawsuit", which someone might attempt. However, if Apple can show that this is actually a mechanism to provide maximum screen time for the life of the battery (as opposed to malicious planned obsolescence), the suit would likely fail.


I mean in Europe. Class action does not apply but EU has a strong record of defending consumer rights.

The clandestine nature of how apple has provided this feature would not work in their favour.


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