This seems like a good idea, and it appears to be well executed (ie it's not apparently based just on age or milage like a crappy car maintenance reminder), but Apple should probably have something in iOS that tells people their phone is running slow because the battery is 2 years old.
Apple is not slowing down devices to extend battery life. Apple is slowing down devices to prevent the thing from crapping out entirely ("unexpectedly shutting down"). Arguably, this does more to prevent obsolescence than plan it.
Agreed with @djrogers suggestion to alert the user to the situation. It should not be a user choice.
"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 [cold, low battery, battery age]."
Thank you. You just saved me 80$ from paying to replace it myself.
Now I can justify to myself that it pays to read hacker news ;)
No, not seeing that advertisement working.
And they get planned obsolescence too!
Why not simply make the battery replacable?
Solid construction and mechanical fasteners are a feature. Servicing any part of an iPhone is not that hard; lack of serviceability is a myth.
Additionally, batteries are not the most commonly replaced part. So far my SE has had four screens and a lightning connector. I'll do the battery myself when I notice performance degrade, too.
have non-replaceable ram and cpu is one thing, but a part that is known to deteriorate with age and usage should be user replaceable.
Not to mention you take it to a technician who has the tools and you'd assume is doing a good job right? No, often it's some high school kid who is not invested in doing a good job but rather just getting it done. It's sloppier than if you were to do it yourself. So you have to resort to buying hundreds of dollars of tools and taking painstaking hours to get it done right and even then it might not turn out.
To the other posters who argue'd that we make a choice about this - no we really don't get a choice. If you want a cutting edge phone there are simply 0 options with replaceable batteries. This is planned obsolescence in an age where my several year old Motorola works just fine for my needs.
An informed decision might yield the same outcome though.
No, I'm not. 3 years is long enough for a smart phone, I probably would have replaced it anyways. And I like the X way more.
My guess is most people plan to replace their phones after 2 years, and few have this problem before that. So disclosing probably doesn't change more than a minute number of purchase decisions. Though I don't doubt that some marketing person at Apple influenced limiting disclosure of this fix because they thought it helped upgrade rates. If that person exists, they should be fired, because it damaged Apple's credibility.
Instead of a hard to find value in settings that tells you your battery needs replacement, they should have a one time warning when it's first detected that explains this behavior.
I understand your argument. I think I would be somewhat mad, or maybe it's better to say, disappointed. While I most likely would have bought a new phone anyway, I would despise that Apple took away my ability to make this call. It also means that I could not refurbish the phone and pass it on to parents/friends.
In the last years, I am somewhat disillusioned by Apple. Instead of engineering a better overall package, the innovations seem to be based on cheats (I would the /undisclosed/ cpu down-clocking as such), cutting corners in QC and questionable design decisions (touchbar - why not with some touch feedback? No headphone jack for reasons already disproved by android phones.)
I didn't buy in into the ios eco-system, but like the mbp and mac os. But the number of advantages get smaller, and the number of disadvantages grows.
Where does that leave us? People that must have newest and fastest are encouraged to upgrade every year. Others accept slow downs due to old batteries and new iOS.
This is definitely not 'planned obsolescence' because your phone still works. Maybe 'encouraged obsolescence' is a better term.
Regarding the slowing down of devices, underclocking the CPU allows for both less power and a lower peak voltage to be drawn from the battery and extends the real usable life of the phone. Others would simply not turn on or pass a hardware test by failing to POST. You are right about new software versions being 'encouraged obsolescence'- a company that pushes features to its older phones knowing they may not be able handle these alongside the older essential ones definitely has an interest in you purchasing a new phone. This could easily be fixed by not having the slimmest phone on the market and instead have a thicker and more easily user-replacable battery.
This could have been avoided if they weren't so obsessed with thinness. I reckon that if it was thick enough to not have a camera protrusion, it would be the perfect balance of form and battery life.
In reality, it's probably some mix of both sides.
So a feature to throttle the CPU while I waited for a battery replacement on Android would have been great I think! It needs to be toggleable and it needs to clearly surface to the user what the long term fix is though (i.e., replace the battery). Apple's solution did neither of these, but if it did I think it would have been fine.
If you do, are they even functional after the upgrade? Mine became couldn’t do anything because it is so slow after upgrade.
Only good thing was I had an unlocked boot loader and able to flash the original Android back
Please don’t act like Android is anything better. It is not.
It's an extremely infrequent service, but it's not difficult. Certainly much much easier than an oil change on a car, which is a frequent service. Instructions, third party supplies, and third party services are abundant for it. I don't think it's fair to call it anything but "easily-replaceable."
Yeah? Well that is peculiar. Here   it says: "Difficulty: Moderate". I guess someone is wrong on the Internet, and I don't think its iFixit.
You see, the battery in my phone can be replaced in literally under half a minute. Without any special tools. Without any guide. The only thing is, I gotta buy the battery from the vendor, for 20 EUR.
That is, according to my reference point, "easily-replaceable" indeed (I could even do it whilst I'm hiking without any special tools), while the circus act you're going to have to put up (which includes all kind of non-standard tools (with additional price tag) which you can read about at  and ), clearly -without the shed of a doubt- makes it a lot more difficult to replace the bloody thing.
And let us be honest: that is entirely intended. Because else, Apple would use standard screws, and wouldn't use all kind of acts to use more obscure screws.
Fun fact: my mother, in her 60s, has changed oil numerous upon numerous times in her life. She's never replaced a battery in a phone though. Some people are scared opening up hardware. Heck, I bet she was scared refreshing oil the first time as well but my father guided her (he became blind, so couldn't do it anymore). Another one: the other day I was replacing a battery and reapplying thermal paste on my partner's MBP and my partner's sister complimented that I was doing that, even though it was my first time doing that and I was just using iFixit's guide. (I still managed to kill the iSight camera, even though the guide said I shouldn't worry about that connector. GG). That guide said Moderate difficulty as well IIRC. And I screwed it up. So... easy? Give me a break. Its tedious. And that, too, is way more difficult than opening up a ThinkPad T61.
Ergo, my point is that calling it "easily-replaceable" completely and utterly ignores how easy it used to be to replace your cellphone's battery. Call it a reality distortion field if you must.
So your reference point is yours, and mine is mine. We can call it there. I won't though; I want other people to take iFixit's reference point more serious than randomers because they are experts at defining the difficulty and their guides have been proofread and used. By many eyes.
Yes. I used to have spontaneous shutdowns on my iPhone 6 in cold weather when the fuel gauge indicated a number like 20% and it was this sort of problem that was meant to be fixed: the CPU using too much current, causing the battery voltage to drop enough to trigger the low-voltage/brownout detector, causing the phone to die. The battery would last long enough (from last full charge to needing to recharge) -- it wasn't inadequate in the energy department -- it just couldn't deliver enough power in cold conditions.
Throttling the CPU in those cases (when the aged battery can't deliver enough current) is sensical and extends the life of the phone -- the only serious issue is that the user might think that there is a problem with the CPU or the software (and replace the whole phone) when the problem can be adequately fixed with a new battery (far less expensive than a new phone).
The feature is good but Apple's software should be far more proactive in notifying users that this is happening, if only because users jump to a conclusion of "my old phone can't handle this new iOS update, damn Apple making me buy a new phone" rather than "my battery is too old to reliably deliver whatever current the SOC wants".
I had the exact symptoms of this issue with my one year old iPhone 6 Plus in fall of 2015. Add in some very strange battery % readings: Even when it failed to shut down, the phone would drop rapidly from 20% to 1% but then remain there for ten minutes or more.
Bizarrely, this behavior (albeit less frequent or severe) jumped to my brand new iPhone 6S Plus in November of that year when I restored it from a backup of the 6 Plus. Both phones had Geniuses run battery diagnostics without finding any unusual degradation.
My guess: Apple’s battery “farming” code designed to maximize its life, level drain and charge across the cells, manage load, estimate charge % remaining... is incredibly sophisticated, even so far as to profile your typical use of a device to inform these decisions and estimates. There have been user-visible bugs in this code related to manual clock updates (something I did a fair bit while traveling), and I bet some fraction of these downclocked users have been the victim of that or related bugs. If the code is “farming” the battery incorrectly, some cells may be charged or drained too much for too long, and greatly increase a phone’s susceptibility to these voltage drops, even while the global status of the battery reads as fine.
I'll run the speed test later to confirm. But there is absolutely NO warning in iOS that I can see that says it's been put into low-speed mode.
If my device has to substantially throttle the performance to avoid a complete shutdown I expect a major notification that something is terribly wrong and I better do something about it.
My car had an occasional issue with an exhaust regulation valve and drastically reduced the performance in those situations. Every time I received a notification on the dashboard that the power was reduced but that I can continue driving but that I should visit a service partner as soon as possible. That would be exactly what I expect from a smart device
Selling a car that markets 300,000 miles but can't drive over 3,000 rpm anymore after the first year is not a car, and marketing it as such is fraud.
The spin, I feel, is that somehow being able to replace one's batteries is bad. Whereas having an iPhone with degraded performance and an expensive-to-replace battery is good.
You "bought a spare because you could" and "now it sits, waiting for you to recycle it", thus creating waste, but one can argue that anyone buying stuff they don't need creates waste, and that being able to replace one's phone battery isn't about saving the environment but saving one's hard-earned money.
Second, user-replaceable batteries don't come for free. They come with a series of trade-offs. Small increases in cost, space, even weight. If you plan to keep your phone for more than 2 years, user-replaceable will be more important to you than if you intend to replace every 2 years.
I remember when I switched to MacBook Pros from my Dell laptops. I had two flights a week that were about 5 hours each. I had to buy an extra laptop battery and charger so my Dell would last the entire flight. And sometimes I'd forget to charge both batteries and I'd be back to a dead laptop halfway through the flight.
Then I read the reviews of these new MBPs that lasted 7-8 hours instead of 5 hours, that used sealed batteries. I switched and my new MBP worked like a charm, easily lasting the entire flight every time. One big reason Apple made that advance was entirely because they abandoned removable batteries. They were able to fit more battery using a custom form factor that would have been super expensive to make removable. No one had done this as well before, because Apple was the first to implement good embedded battery conditioning software so they would last a couple years without needing replacement.
Sealed batteries aren't always better, but they typically are for most users and use cases.
Why speculate on a tech forum, when these things are easy to find out? Just look at the battery specs for both machines.
https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs/ is ~ 55 Watt/hr
A few random dells I looked up
Clearly, it seems to be the opposite. After using all kinds of laptops, the main benefits of Apple laptops AFAICT is that they don't come with pre-installed bullshit, they're easier to test because they only come in like 5 varieties, as opposed to the hundreds of thousands combinations that Windows has to deal with, and that OSX can be easier to use, for some users. I would recommend apple to any non-technical user for sure. I personally have never found apple hardware to be any different than other brands. I'm still using my Sony laptop from 2011 and its just as fast and rock-solid as the day I purchased it. As an aside, Microsoft doesn't usually cripple their popular software (Office, Visual studio, etc) so that it requires the latest OS, unlike Apple which forces you on the upgrade treadmill - sure, its free, but you also don't have a choice. YMMV ofcource.
OK, I’ll play. How thick are those laptops? How heavy are those laptops? How does their battery life compare?
And review this so you have some basic technical knowledge and understanding of history.
No, your claim was that making batteries non serviceable means you have more room for a larger battery. It doesn't seem to be the case now. You are welcome to point to an example from the year that you purchased your laptop.
I don't care about popping a lid off every three years; swappable batteries, to me, is nonsense. What makes me irate though is a) the fact that they're downright glued when they could be held in place by other, readily serviceable means†, and b) in 2013-2015 I could code/compile stuff and still have a sizable portion of the best-case battery life, while today the battery size is dwindling, compensated by enhanced power management to maintain the "10 hour" figure, but it falls apart under any load that does not involve browsing or watching some hardware-decoded video. We should be shooting for 20, 30, 40 hours of use on battery, not the current "good enough" status quo.
† Clips, double sided tape, whatever. If it's a problem to not use glue then it's a worthy engineering challenge to use some goo that comes off easily. The current glue situation is a lazy copout, it's Steve Jobs's "plywood on the back".
Agree with the rest of your comment.
[the XPSs is easier than MBP & Alienware, but you’re still disassembling things]
7 years later, Dell seems to have captured the same gains.
At present, Apple’s main battery life win is macOS.
But any repair shop could do that for you. You're not forced to go to a single vendor who can set arbitrary prices.
>At present, Apple’s main battery life win is macOS.
Yes, I would agree with that.
I was speaking more to the anti-repair/replace design from Apple (also others).
If you’re not in warranty, they don’t do anything to force you to go to them. The only difference is that going to Apple is easy, due to their retail stores.
It has been getting difficult with TSA, though.
I'm still enjoying my 3-year-old non-iPhone, and intend to keep using it until it stops working entirely, whereas my spouse with an iPhone was already voicing suspicion before this announcement that Apple was intentionally slowing their old iPhone through updates, just to provoke an upgrade. With the announcement, I can't fault the reasoning.
How much of the used market for iPhones are devices that had been traded in (because slowed by Apple due to old battery), refurbished by the mobile phone company (probably just to replace the battery and reset it to factory settings), and then resold to people whose older model refurbished iPhone now needs yet another new battery? That generates an additional sale of an entire old iPhone, whereas other phones would only generate a sale of a replacement battery at that time.
I think you would probably have to look at what mobile phone customers are actually using, right now.
The used market for iPhones on Craigslist is actual users. The market is very strong, and so is the resale value of iPhones. There is one (1) explanation for this: iPhones hold their value better because they are more useful for a longer time.
As an aside, iPhones also remain able to run the latest version of iOS for roughly TWICE as long as Android phones.
There is no competition, here.
That iPhones retain their value over time is a testament to the fact that Apple has not been slowing down old iPhones to make you upgrade (this conspiracy theory predates iOS 10.2.1 by many years).
Have you examined the reasons why iPhone owners sell their older iPhones, and why people buy refurbished used iPhones?
Not at all. It's a testament that there is a market for old iPhones, that is all. People are possibly buying used iPhones despite them being slowed down.
> Apple actually has an incentive to create the longest lasting iPhone because the economics of the iPhone Upgrade Plan and every carrier upgrade plan depends on it.
Then why don't they? <5 years for an electronic device that hasn't seen any significant upgrades in later models is absurdly short.
Just as we can use the price of iOS zero-day exploits in the black market as a proxy for how secure iOS has become over the years, we can also look at the resale market for iPhones.
That is not true, nor has it ever been for phones or cars. People buy each for all kinds of reasons: status symbols, ideals, etc. iPhones demonstrably do not retain their value as demonstrated by this battery fiasco.
After-Market value != quality
The spinsters are deliberately confusing "lifespan" with "resale value".
I realize I'm responding to someone arguing in bad faith. But lifespan directly influences the resale value.
The iPhone is a well-made phone which would have greater lifespan if the batteries were replaceable.
As it is, users who bought an older iPhone now have to pay middle-men to replace the battery or face degraded performance.
iPhone users buy iPhones because they wanted the best in class functionality, if they wanted to save money they'd buy a phone with a replaceable battery.
Also we've had this debate for years already when Apple went to unibody Macbooks. The reliability and battery life only increased because of the better structural integrity and increased room for battery cells.
The issue is not creating waste, but wasting one's money on middle-men for replacing one's phone batteries.
>I know every TV remote I've owned with a battery door eventually ends up with a rubber band around it, and I think that's pretty much a universal experience.
You're relating a supposedly personal story to make your spin claims more relatable. Maybe you're like the people in late-night TV commercials who seemingly can't open a can of tomatoes without massive bleeding? ;)
Well I could say I'm spending that money on having a nicer phone that's sealed and seamless, rather than wasting it.
It's quite obvious that it's a waste of money to pay middle-men to perform basic service on it for stuff a user can do at home with any other phone.
i would wager that their post was trying to highlight that.
That would be odd! Which is why that's not what I said.
I said that the received benefit in return for having to pay for the batter to be replaced was 'a nicer phone'. I like the single form of the iPhone.
Your original reply was you got a "nicer phone that's sealed and seamless". Apple innovated the smartphone_without_user_replaceable_battery. So I am asking you, would you not prefer to have the choice of having a similar smartphone (with pretty much all the benefits of the iPhone) but then _with_ a user replaceable battery?
You know what the beauty of such a device is? We wouldn't need this silly discussion. You'd just buy a new battery from Apple and be done with it. But for some magic reason, Apple is doing it different again.
I've got a phone that is nowhere near to needing a new battery. It holds 87% of its original charge capacity. Yet it never runs above 50% speed unless it is above 97% charged, and even then it only runs at 2/3rds original speed.
If you consider that you can't easily change the battery in an iPhone without voiding the warranty or paying a premium price to Apple Support then one can make a strong argument that it's sneaky planned obsolescence.
Then again, a battery that dies down after a few years and is so difficult to replace is also planned obsolescence.
It's pretty obvious what apple is doing. We need a law to make them stop or at least one which requires them to declare in obvious language about the things that reduce the functioning of their devices over time.
In which apps would I notice a significant difference if I replace my battery?
If Safari page load speeds increased I would be happy, but I assume that is more influenced by bandwidth and mobile optimization.
It doesn't seem to help my gf had an iPhone 5 that started dying on peak demand but only after it got upgraded to new ios (i guess 8.0).
We replaced it (it had bad battery from the start and apple had a program for replacing those). After few years on new battery it started doing the same thing again. I replaced the battery and it stopped. But I know what I can expect in two years or so. Maybe I should stock on iPhone 5 batteries? Do they age less if they are unused?
Or a disclaimer telling people the caveats (or cons) of upgrading their OS.
More transparency would be great instead of making people feel like the company is pushing them out of their, otherwise, perfectly functional smartphone which cost them a fortune.
This doesn't make sense to me. I've been playing with LiPo batteries on quadcopters for a few years now, and I've found that battery capacity is directly related to its voltage, and the voltage decreases in a deterministic fashion according to use. High quality and well maintained LiPo batteries just don't behave randomly - that's why we feel safe attaching them to our houses in the form of Tesla Powercells.
Or, in other words, if a phone is showing 40% charge when it shuts down, that's not the battery "spontaneously" being unable to cope with load; that's a bad charge indicator.
They're replaceable, but they are clearly not meant to be done by the user. There were many opportunities to break pieces of the phone or ruin it completely. It's a horrible design.
But it was a hell of a lot cheaper than the quote I got from the repair shop, and I didn't break anything. (Which isn't a surprise... I like fixing things.)
Geekbench 4 benchmark before
However I've had batteries replaced (different phones) at the Apple Store before and it took about an hour.
This looks more like Apple needed to slow down devices to sell new ones and found a really good excuse for it.
I mean, to all those who might think "well, old phones be old", it's not that simple. The OS was running very smoothly, it's Apple, after all, but then I installed an OS update and after the update everything was slow and painful and took long to load, etc. It was night and day, pre-update: perfection, post-update: laggy as hell.
You can't tell me that this is anything but a way to force users of older models to upgrade.
1. Newer versions of iOS demand more processing power because they do more (or perhaps do it less efficiently).
2. Old batteries can't deliver as much power.
So an old phone will new version of the OS mores slowly than a new one, regardless of the battery situation.
But, if the battery was marginal but hadn't hit the limit before the upgrade, then you get a double whammy
1. The phone simply can't run a more demanding OS as fast as the old one
2. The increased demand pushes the battery over the limit
At some point, the battery was going to age out anyway, so it was only a matter of time until you hit the second issue. But the upgrade made you hit it sonner rather than later.
Does anyone have a citation for this? I know capacity falls, but what fraction of peak current is lost with age? And what fraction with throttling just the CPU to 50% save in total load?
Did your iPad have any problems with spontaneously rebooting?
She’s recently upgraded from 10.x to latest version. She’s noticed an actual decrease in performance to the point where she’s nearly punching the phone. It just locks up for no reason.
I’d like to blame this on the battery or age of the phone but I can’t. It is an iPhone 6 but it is only half a year old.
I believe that this phone should be able to handle the latest release just fine.
She’s now looking at upgrading the phone.
Also, battery age isn't actually time based, it's cycle based. If your wife uses her phone so heavily that she has to recharge it multiple times a day, she's putting more cycles on the battery. Still should last more than 6 months though.
I’m going to install the app to check what the CPU is running at.
It’s still ridiculous that she was running 10.x fine, she only updated because someone sent her some emojis that her phone didn’t understand and now is it’s running like crap
I thought it was weird when we got the replacement though.
Just because Apple replaced the phone doesn't mean the battery isn't deficient.
Devil's Advocate to spark discussion (I'm not an iPhone owner so no dog in fight):
Apple did the right thing by not putting a switch in to toggle this slowdown. For many iPhone users, the phone is a magic box that gives them videos and apps and (unlike our HN audience) don't have a clue about how it works, nor do they care. If such a switch existed, these same people would see a twitter comment saying "speed up yuor (sic) IPhone by turning off this setting~~~!!!!1" and would just do it.
The result? iPhones dying at a faster rate. Even today, as Android phones are barely updated at all, it is still a desirable selling feature of an Apple iPhone that it will be supported for years. People turning that switch on without understanding the consequences would shorten the life of their devices and then //still// complain about how the device didn't last that long.
I would think that a jailbreak-locked option would work IE you have to know enough about how your phone works to make the change, thus increasing your chances of making an informed decision on whether to shorten its life or not.
Which is different than not telling people about it, which IMO is shady
Edit: remove italics
It pains me that I effectively have to choose between replaceable batteries and IPXX ratings.... T_T
Making iPhone batteries user-replaceable means making the phone worse, heavier, larger, more expensive and with worse battery life.
If they went the o-ring route, it would take up more volume and would probably require replacement when the phone was opened as damage from dirt/age will make reusing the o-ring hard. Even worse is that resuse isn’t obvious to a layperson as it could be IP69 with a new o-ring and IP67 with reused o-ring.
"User replaceable" barely does it justice either. I just had the battery in my hands in under 5 seconds easily. People earlier in the thread stating iPhone batteries are easily user replaceable are ridiculous, when the process can take upward of 20 minutes, and can leave the phone temporarily inoperable if any of the multiple connectors aren't quite seated correctly. I'm also intrigued as to where all this imaginary extra weight and bulk is coming from when implementing specifically the S5 battery enclosure design, because having stripped down hundreds of iPhones and dozens of Galaxy variants I just don't see it.
No, because this is a new feature as of the iPhone 6. The conspiracy way predates that.
I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S5 in 2015. I've replaced the battery once after the original started swelling, and it's still going strong. I plan to next upgrade my phone in 2018/9. I'd be pissed if the OS updated and suddenly made it very slow before then!
If only we had such a technology as a scary warning message with a 5 second wait time before you can toggle the switch... Maybe in 10 years, meanwhile we'll just have to keep crippling old phones and tripling revenue!
They can throttle the chip to what the battery can deliver or it will crash. Maybe Apple's more conservative on the throttling, and some amount of performance could still be achieved without a crash, but there's zero chance Apple's putting a "make my phone unstable" switch in Settings.
Over the course of many discharge cycles, the battery will lose capacity, and the point when the voltage is no longer sufficient to power the phone will come sooner.
But this is overly pedantic. People generally consider this point to be simply an "empty battery."
Android phones do not suffer these performance changes. Instead, the phones lose battery life over time, and within a year or so, you might be lucky to get 12 hours of life out of a full charge.
You can make an argument that we should optimize for duration or performance, but the difference is that casual Android users are aware that their battery is deteriorating, while casual iPhone users believe their phone is itself deteriorating, or else much slower than the newer models.
It's not just smoothing out a peak demand. It's reducing the peak performance all of the time, and that is unique to iPhone.
Mine runs at 50% CPU speed under those circumstances. I wouldn't call that "performing as expected."
So throw in a fat capacitor. This was a solved problem 50 years ago, the only problem is this constant rush to make phones 1% thinner.
I've never met anyone that used phone thinness as a metric when choosing a new phone and yet here we are.
This is something that is burning the good will towards apple. Something that is in shorter supply since the days of Steve Jobs. You can see the polarization about it on social media.
Again whether the feature was good/bad, there is clearly something to be learned from the shitstorm that it is causing. Something I hope Tim Cook learns quickly.
MAKE . IT . EASIER . TO . REPLACE . THE . BATTERY !!!
Many people are reasonably asking that they be made aware of the problem instead of quietly kneecapping the phone.
(Also worth noting that the battery in my phone still holds 87% original capacity.)
If a new battery is purchased today, how many months of daily usage will cause Apple throttling to begin?
If a Samsung and Apple phone are purchased on the same day, used the same amount and benchmarked each day for 24 months, would their performance graphs look similar?