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IPhones start slowing down after a year (theverge.com)
197 points by alex_young 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments



If your battery is only reduced by 8% after a couple of years, why does the device have a artificial, significant decrease in performance after just one year?

Worse yet, Apple doesn't disclose this and it took an independent researcher to actually measure it and discover this. Wonder why? Smells a bit reminiscent of VW's diesel strategy.

"Thank you for spending your precious, discretionary income on a new Tesla! Your new vehicle will automatically slow down as it ages, because random battery parts will wear out, and going slower 'helps stop random shutdowns, which are a major pain.' By year five, your vehicle's max speed will be artificially limited to approximately 20 mph. We can help with that if you bring it in to an authorized manufacturer-owned store, assuming there is one in your country, or ship it to us at your cost, where we will replace a random part at only 20% the cost of a new Tesla. You could do this every year to maintain peak performance, but we prefer that you don't know about this at all and just buy a new car from us instead."

Planned obsolescence, with an air of plausibility to its reckless, environmentally unsound 'science' that forces you to dispose of the phone (if you don't know about this pre-programmed slowdown) or battery (if you do) before it actually ceases being useful to you.. brilliant.

But, when you get that shiny new phone home, you're blown away at how 'fast' it is compared to your previous phone.

It's actually breathtakingly brilliant, in an evil genius sort of way.


One of the reasons is that it slows down is because the battery is actually not able to deliver enough power to run at full speed. My iPhone 6S would randomly shut down when I was using significant power (I.e a CPU hungry app) even at 70+%. When I got to less then 40% almost any app could cause a sudden restart. Apple apparently fixed this problem in a software update by limiting the power the devices draws, which fixes those random restarts for the most part but slows it down significantly.

Fortunately, I could replace my device because that was the case (I went to Apple and they replaced my battery after they did some extended tests because they were aware that a “small number of iPhone suffered from this issue and they tried to find out which ones“). Sure enough, about one or two months later I checked my old serial number and apples website told my that my old phone was eligible to be replaced.

This seems to affect the iPhone 6 and 6s the most. According to geek benchmark my used iPhone 7 is at 80% speed when it has about 50% battery remaining and at pretty much full speed when my battery is fully charged.


I had one of these phones too - it was a bad batch of serial numbers according to Apple. If this happens to you: https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/


I was referring to that (my old serial number did show up as eligible but I had it replaced before that).

Apparently all phones suffer from that problem but the batch we referred to seem to be especially bad. The software update just seems to have mitigated the effects of iPhones which were mostly ok but shut down occasionally (and the effected ones which shut down almost every week when it was at 70% and about once or twice a day at 20-30%).


The slowdown is related to battery health. For some devices, it starts happening after a year; for others it takes longer.

Replacing the battery restores normal performance. You don‘t need to go to an authorised repair shop.


If something like:

"In order to maintain the battery life you are used to, we had to introduce limits on your iPhone. This is because by time batteries unfortunately lose their capacity. Your phone will be just as new if you take it to our stores and get the battery replaced"

would be communicated, it would be nice. In my opinion. btw batteries usually also have a year of warranty, so there really should be a way to check it's performance.


But essentially infeasible. Most of us cannot spare to not have the phone for even a day. Say what you will about our dependence on the devices, but it's a practical problem.


You can do both, show the warning and implement performance limiting. The information would be nice (if not outright essential/ethical)


Any responsible manufacturer would notify users about faulty hardware and not try to hide the problem.


It's not considered faulty, more like degraded over time. So the CPU is throttled when the battery is no longer optimal to preserve battery life?

I rather have shorter battery life with same performance so it's more noticeable that I need to replace the battery.


Apple says that if they don't throttle it then phone can suddenly shut down (battery overheats, fail-safes shut the power so it doesn't explode) under certain circumstances, which is perceived as fault by end user.

I would like to be informed of this "Your battery is starting to fail". Same way as SMART monitoring in disk drives tells you that it degraded too much and will break soon.


Or have a switch.

I don’t think this is about us having a better experience though. It looks like a strategy to sell new devices by making the old ones obsolete.

I hope we see a class action.


> It's not considered faulty, more like degraded over time.

> I rather have shorter battery life with same performance so it's more noticeable that I need to replace the battery.

I agree, but something is odd about this whole situation.

I have an iPhone 6, iPhone 5, iPhone 4, a 2nd generation iPod Touch, and several Android phones.

The iPhone 6 is the first one I've seen randomly turn itself off when the battery level was below 30%, all of the others would run normally even when the battery condition was poor. I could continue using them normally while the battery indicator ticked down to 1%.

While my iPhone 6 no longer randomly turns itself off, it frequently doesn't respond for 15+ seconds when typing a letter on the keyboard or tapping a text field, it's essentially just as unusable as if it had turned itself off.

What makes me suspicious is that I have a 2nd iPhone 6 here at the moment with a similarly aged battery in fairly poor condition. It doesn't randomly turn off, and the performance difference is immediately noticeable, it's actually usable. The only real difference I can identify is that it is still running an older version of iOS.


Batteries degrade over time. I wouldn't classify that as faulty hardware. I would say it's faulty design (battery should be easily replaced) and faulty communication though.


If replacing the battery restores normal performance, can connecting a charger also restore normal performance?

Because iPhones don't really have user serviceable batteries, I wonder if an after market battery charging case would provide more speed with a new battery pack.


No. Plugging it in makes no difference. The only way performance increases is if you increase the charge in the battery, in my experience.


From what I've been able to tell, plugging the phone in helps in some cases but there are a lot of cases where it does not help.

(That's from reading around on the internets. I only have direct knowledge of my own situation, where plugging my phone in did not help but replacing the battery did.)


How do you know when it's time to replace your battery?

My guess is that most of the billion iPhone users have no idea, and they really don't want to invest much time into figuring it out.


Can’t find the post. But this was asked on Reddit the other day and the user got a three paragraph response on how to ‘simply’ monitor battery performance. Also included was optimal charging methods — common sense right? I just want to use my phone without having to worry about if my battery needs to be replaced or not. Just tell me. Like on the Mac that my battery is degraded and should be replaced.


My battery is at 87% of its original capacity and the phone runs at 50% of its original CPU speed.

ETA: Point being, this doesn't appear to actually be limited to batteries that have seriously degraded.


As an iPhone 6 user I downloaded a an app called CPU Dasher X and found that my CPU was being throttled to 600MHz once it fell to around 40% charge. Not great. Now looking at a battery replacement (~£40)


Nobody has explained why this was suddenly needed with the iPhone 6 and above. It's not like the iPhone 5 didn't have a battery.


While average power draw for a given task for mobile chips has stayed similar or declined over the last few years, peak draw has gone through the roof. It's quite plausible that the iPhone 5's SoC just never drew enough power at peak for this to be an issue.


Normally this sort of issue is solved with a capacitor network. It's actually common to get them removed during a "cost optimization" stage because the device will still appear to work. Just with grately reduced reliability.


Any capacitor network will need some power to stay charged waiting for use. If peaks are rare enough, they won't be a reasonable choice.


The root of the issue is that the internal resistance of the battery is too high to supply current under peak load to the device. Anyone creating an electronic device has to perform these calculations and design a power supply that is sufficient. Its basic electrical engineering.

For extremely short duration peaks up to a few microseconds capacitors are a great workaround. They are necessary for pretty much every digital integrated circuit. A billion transistors all switching at the same time on the rising edge of a clock cycle has a massive instantaneous current draw.


> Anyone creating an electronic device has to perform these calculations and design a power supply that is sufficient.

Yes. And it does look like a case of undersized batteries. If I had to guess, I'd say it was because of too strict product design specifications meeting a lower than expected quality in manufacturing.

CPU power peaks usually last for a (large) fraction of a millisecond or more, because that's how the OS scheduler works. Added to that, peaks may not happen for entire minutes or hours. Both of those work against the usefulness of large capacitor banks.


Apple (like other manufacturers) is continually looking for ways to improve performance, whether that be cpu speed or battery life, or other metric. I don't think this has anything special to do with a particular model, only when they decided to deploy this particular feature.


It's extremely suspicious this coincided with a massive battery recall that caused unexpected shutdowns.


I'm not sure if I follow you here, particularly the use of "extremely suspicious", which makes me think that you believe something underhanded is going on. If so, would you just come out and say it? Innuendo doesn't generally promote useful discussion, and it's even harder on an online forum. Was this something you were thinking about when you wrote your initial comment? If that's not the case, please forgive me. I assumed your initial comment was a legitimate question, and answered in good faith.

If they are related (and perhaps they are, I wasn't thinking about the recall when I wrote my comment), do you think it's unreasonable for engineers at Apple to try to prevent unexpected shutdowns? I would think it would be unreasonable not to, once they saw the impact it was having on user experience. And that's besides improving the battery. The amount of engineering that goes on with respect to power and performance management is incredible, and attacking these types of problems from multiple angles is expected, particularly when you're looking to eek out even more performance in something that's already been through years of optimization iterations.


To be explicit I think this was done to limit the scale of the recall. I think the design flaw exists in all the phones not just the subset they identified.

Apple knew the peak draw of their SoC (they designed it). And they knew the capabilities of the battery. Under sizing the battery is exactly what I would call a design flaw.


This certainly seems to be the case from my experience. Same thing they did for previous recalls on MacBooks.


And how many people end up bricking their phone doing so? It’s not easy and I’m sure a lot of average users simply won’t as they’re afraid to even attempt to take it apart.


It's really great that Apple just removed that option eons ago.


but you need an original battery. Just replaced the battery that seems fake. And.. the clock reduced from 1127 to 600 Mhz instead of 1400 what was I'm hoping.


If only you could just pull the old battery out and put a new one in.


I know you think you're joking, but older vehicles typically lose compression as the engine ages, which will reduce performance pretty significantly. And yes, the engine can be rebuilt which replaces the worn-out sealing surfaces that are causing the loss of compression in the first place.


That's not the same thing. They're artificially limiting one component that's perfectly capable of functioning at peak performance to hide the degradation of another.

If your battery starts degrading while still under warranty how would you know other than "hmm... my phone feels slower than usual".

How does this throttling occur? Is it gradual or does it happen in large noticeable steps? My guess is that it's gradual throttling because it's taken this long for people to identify it.

Does the throttling only occur after the phone is out of warranty? Or is Apple hiding a potential warranty repair?


Do you think the ECU doesn't limit the performance as the engine ages to protect it from damage? Of course they do, just swapping the ECU in an old car for a brand new one will restore some performance, because the ECU starts supplying the stock levels of fuel/air mixture, at least until it learns that the engine is not performing as expected and cuts down on performance again.


The ECU isn't intentionally degrading performance, it's balancing the air to fuel to compression ratios for optimal combustion of fuels and reduced emissions. It's a dynamic systems and degradation in performance occurs as a result.

It's not intentionally handicapping the performance to hide the fact that your fuel tank can no longer hold the same volume of fuel.


And Apple is balancing the battery's voltage level with the CPU utilization for optimal reliability of the device.


I agree with everything you said – but will point out that modern cars, if they are not properly maintained will degrade in capability in an effort to prevent further damage. I was bad about getting oil changes and eventually my car had a limited ability to accelerate and a limited top speed until I got the oil change, it seemed to be clearly done by a computer control, rather than mechanical degradation.


All manufacturers face the same design decision - once the battery life declines, do you cut the CPU speed and keep the battery life, or do you keep the performance but the phone now dies halfway through the day. I'd say Apple took the correct approach here - 100% of your customers will notice their devices dying much earlier than expected, most customers won't notice the phone getting a bit slower. My mum never ever would for example, she only uses hers for making phone calls. If the phone app takes 2 seconds longer to open she doesn't care, she cares about having a phone that works all day long though.


I disagree - people do notice their phones gradually slowing down. They just live with it, because there's nothing they can do about it beyond buying a new phone, which is a large purchase best postponed (that is, if they're not on a contract - if they are, the burden is much worse).

This behaviour adds significant stress and annoyance to lives of millions of people. In my book, it's just evil.


As someone who lived with a phone that would run out of battery around 3pm when unplugged at 7am - I would have gladly traded that experience for a slight slowdown of the software. I can't believe that the "significant stress and annoyance" of having a slow phone is any worse than "significant stress and annoyance" of having a phone that just switches off. Slow phone > dead phone.


Fast phone + a powerbank > slow phone > dead phone.

Apple took away the ability to choose the powerbank option.


> If your battery is only reduced by 8% after a couple of years, why does the device have a artificial, significant decrease in performance after just one year?

You call the decrease artificial, but I don't see evidence of that. I'm not sure what your "reduced by 8%" number is -- capacity? -- but in any case, it wouldn't necessarily scale linearly with the amount of CPU throttling needed to make the CPU stable.

Also, I'm not sure where the "significant decrease in performance after just one year" is coming from. The article says performance starts to degrade after a year, which isn't the same thing. The article doesn't even have a cite for that (that I saw), so I wouldn't take that claim seriously yet.

Of course, I'm sure there are batteries out there that are aging prematurely, but that's not the same as a device being designed to degrade after a year. Personally, my iPhone 6 plus began slowing down really noticeably at close to three years old, which is acceptable, IMO.

But I think Apple needs to have iOS alert you that it's slowing your phone down because the battery has degraded. Then you know what to do: * If it's less than the normal service life of the battery (2 years, I guess), you should get a free battery replacement. * If it's later than that you can choose to replace the battery on your own dime. * Or you can choose to get a new phone after all.

By not telling people what's going on, people with a prematurely degraded battery probably won't know to get it replaced under warranty and people with normally aging batteries are more likely to buy a new phone rather than replace their battery.


>> But I think Apple needs to have iOS alert you that it's slowing your phone down because the battery has degraded.

I see so many Mac laptops with the service battery warning on. People won't replace them until they have to, even to the point of the laptop needing to be connected to the wall outlet to run.


It's exactly because they don't magically lose CPU speed because of battery issues; people can adjust to failing batteries if the device remains useful (even for phones with fixed batteries, powerbanks exist).

With iPhones, Apple decided to make the device less useful instead.


Mac laptops actually used to work in a similar way, however I'm not sure if that is still the case.

If you had a dead battery (or no battery), your CPU frequency would be limited because the AC adapter could not supply enough power on it's own

The link is dead, but it was documented on Apple's support site: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2332


Tesla slightly understates battery capacity from the factory - to give future headroom and the appearance of less battery capacity.

In this case, are they 'guilty' of leaving extra performance/range on the table when the vehicle is new?


Tesla does not leave any headroom. If they did, then the car would appear to be able to charge to its original value for a while -- but it doesn't:

https://electrek.co/2016/11/01/tesla-battery-degradation/

What Tesla does do is pretend that the bottom 20% of the battery doesn't exist. That's because it's very damaging to use it at low charge.


A few things that I haven't seen discussed much.

1. Battery degradation should happen to all phones, regardless of OS/manufacturer. How do other phones handle this (flagship Android phones etc.)?

2. If other phones don't experience these shutdowns on such a wide scale or don't throttle the performance so harshly (to literally half or one third of original performance) to avoid shutdowns, what about the iPhone is different to force them into this decision?

Geekbench which posted the larger group of data confirming this, they could probably run the same analysis on S8 phones from Samsung.

Now, if the same does not happen on other phones, the entire debate being framed as it currently is, is a pretty amazing PR spin.

It's much easier to justify the decision between phones shutting down or throttling the device, than it would be to justify a engineering decision that makes the above two choices the only choices, despite other vendors being able to seemingly pull off this magic trick of keeping devices working for more than a year.

With all of Apple's resources and engineering know-how, it seems a stretch that they would be the only ones incapable of solving this issue.

I don't actually know if other vendors solve it differently, but I do know that they have the same battery life, the same phone thinness and powerful specs.

Does anyone have a clue about this? Seems like the more interesting story.


If you bought a car and it stopped working after a year because the battery failed, you would expect to be able to change the battery yourself.


The ol' car analogy has failed you here.

Cars do sometimes stop working after a year because their batteries fail and the great majority of people in that situation take their cars to a repair shop rather than do the work themselves.

Actually, the battery in a phone is more comparable to the entire fuel delivery and ignition system in a car, not just the battery. Even fewer people could handle that work on their own.


I don't think it is relevant "who" changes "what" (you or a specialized technician).

The point revolves more around whether replacing a vital component after only one year of normal use would be covered by warranty (in EU for consumers warranty is two years for everything).

Another interesting point is how you discover that some part needs to be replaced.

For the car, it is easy, one morning it won't start.

What if (say) Ford or Chevrolet (or Volkswagen that has some documented experience in the field ;)) had a hidden electronic device that - in order to save the battery and your next morning start of the car - progressively dimmed a litte bit your head and tail lights and/or lowered the heating or the cooling set temperature slightly, starting, still say, after six month?


> Actually, the battery in a phone is more comparable to the entire fuel delivery and ignition system in a car, not just the battery. Even fewer people could handle that work on their own.

So you know, there was a point in time where I just replaced my phone's battery. I bought the battery, opened the back cover, and replaced it. And it worked great. :)

The reason people take their cars to a service shop is one of convenience for things like batteries, not because it's a necessity created by the design of the vehicle.


My 3 year old LG G3 had the exact same issue that Apple was trying to prevent. It would randomly shut down at ~50% battery, and restart at ~10%. It was ultimately fixed with a battery swap.

This happened during a period in my life when I absolutely needed my phone to be functional. I can honestly say that I'd rather have the CPU throttled, than to have to experience random shutdowns.


as someone who upgraded their original Pixel from Nougat to Oreo I didn't experience any slowness. So anecdotally, it doesn't happen with Google Pixel devices.


I'm going to throw out an impossible solution to this problem. It's impossible because it's very un-Apple.

Let the user choose their own fate. I know, I know, that's crazy talk, right? If given the option on my old iPhone 6 plus, I would have chose to maybe have the phone shut off suddenly at 40% battery life and run at full speed. On the rare days when I'm going to be heavily using my device (and not near constant power) I could change the setting so that it would run slower, but not freak out with battery problems.

This assumes that Apple doesn't know best, and that the user actually has a say in the matter, which goes against iOS / OS X / Apple at a deep, philosophical level.


This assumes that Apple doesn't know best

Apple probably does know better than majority of users about their combined preferences. They can track user behavior around power management and see what they actually do versus what they say they want and design against it.

On the rare days..."

They don't design for rare days though, all good product managers design for the majority of use. Why would they put extra effort into adding a functionality, which could be confusing or inelegant to most users, which is only used rarely by a superuser?


They nearly have done this already with "Low Power Mode", but unfortunately it seems they haven't committed to trusting the user to use this.


Low power mode seems to turn off unnecessary animations and speed up my phone.


The first thing I do on any new Android phone I get is enable developer options and disable all animations.

I've had many friends complement my utterly midrange phone for feeling so snappy; it's because the stupid animations that only serve to slow down UI transitions are off.


Turning low power mode on or off makes no difference in this area. My phone runs at 50% speed, regardless of whether Low Power Mode is turned on or off.


I agree on the surface, but there are millions of older people and those who don’t care to learn, would be scared or alarmed of having that option. Do I still want the option? Sure. But having worked support for years, customers are dumb. They are not HN commenters.


Then bury it in the settings. Let the phone automatically fall into "dead battery" mode but give me an option 7 menus deep to undo it.


Then article "Trick Apple doesn't want you to know" comes up and every mom and pop goes 7 levels deep into settings.


So what? That's how people learn.

This patronizing attitude of hiding all complexity from users is getting beyond ridiculous these days.


Yet users prefer systems that hide all complexity from them instead of installing Gentoo...


There's a limit to how much complexity you can hide before you turn a potentially useful tool into a dumb consumer toy.


>> If given the option on my old iPhone 6 plus, I would have chose to maybe have the phone shut off suddenly at 40% battery life and run at full speed.

This sort of begs the question - if your phone is shutting off suddenly at 40%, is the battery really at 40%?

People have certain preconceived expectations when they see a percentage. The best analog I can think of is a gas tank. People know that how they drive affects their fuel consumption, but they also know that when their gas tank is 40% full, their car's not going to shut off suddenly.

Perhaps we need to look at using a different measure than percent to indicate remaining battery life. Having said that, I don't know what that different measure would be.


If we go with the car analogy, then the gas tank would become smaller with age, but also the fuel line which feeds the engine becomes smaller with age. So overall capacity is reduced, but in addition to that, if you try to floor it when the tank is at 40%, the engine will stall.

If you had only puttered around town (putting only a light load on the engine), you could have fully used the remaining 40%. So the gas tank does still have 40% capacity remaining at that point, it just can't deliver surges like it used it.


I guess we should take a look at how the electric car makers do it then? They have this problem and deal with it now. Not having any experience with electric cars, I can't speak to how it's done.


EVs have a lot of smaller cells packed together and there is a heavy and capable Battery Management System attached to that, along with heating and cooling elements.

AFAIK, most of the battery degradation on phones can be attributed to heat and suboptimal operating temperatures. An EV will heat up / cool down the battery, treat each cell as an independent unit during cycles etc. They will degrade a lot slower compared to phones. Most EVs even after years of use have decent battery performance and some manufacturers (like Tesla and BMW) even go with 8-10 year battery warranty programs.

I think they don't see much abuse like the tiny phone batteries.


But how do they display remaining battery life? %? Range in distance?


Batteries have a predictable discharge cycle. They're fully charged when their output voltage stops increasing and as they discharge the output voltage slowly falls until it reaches a certain threshold where the output voltage is no longer enough to power the device. That cut off voltage is a fixed number. The part that varies is the time it takes to go from fully charged to the cut off voltage.

As a battery degrades, the time is reduced.

Regardless of what the initial voltage is, a plot can be drawn based on measurements of the voltage to see how quickly it's approaching the cut off voltage.

So the battery capacity should really be where the voltage is relative to the last peak when fully charged compared to the cut off voltage.

If Apple is reporting a battery at 40% capacity when it cuts off then they're fudging their numbers.


Now, I know that different battery chemistries have different discharge profiles and this waters down my point a bit, but hear me out.

I started buying LED flashlights when the first couple of designs with high efficiency voltage regulator circuits showed up. The one my buddy had was only fit for a reading light for the last couple of hours of use.

People used to understand that things got dimmer or slower when the battery was almost dead. Due to circuitry these flashlights kept going even though the battery voltage had dropped below the shutoff voltage for an LED. Shouldn’t we maybe have built on that familiarity? Couldn’t we still?


Drawing power causes voltage drops; I suspect what they're saying is that a degraded battery under heavy load will momentarily drop from 40% to under cutoff threshold.


Large voltage drops under load are typically an indication of a bad cell or battery. You could argue this is beneficial to the customer but Apple is hiding the fact that they're doing this. Why?

I recall when they switched to non-replaceable batteries in MacBooks, they boasted how their battery lives were the best and would last x years. Is this how they did it?


There is another problem, at least I had it with my android phone, is that percentage is averaged on usage pattern, so it would show me I have 20% battery and then I make one 5 min call and it is suddenly 2% and critically low, simply because I usually don't make calls late evening and phone sits in idle.


I don't think you can have such a number, as it hinges so heavily on unknowable future usage and environmental factors.

And frankly now that sudden shutdown isn't a thing, I don't think it matters much. Apple just has to communicate the situation better when processor throttling reaches severe states.


Not having an electric car, does anyone know what Teslas, Volts and Leafs do?

Those cars have the extra problem of having batteries out in the cold too.


>> This assumes that Apple doesn't know best, and that the user actually has a say in the matter, which goes against iOS / OS X / Apple at a deep, philosophical level

This isn't philosophy. This is marketing sold as philosophy.

Let's be real: yes Apple has distinct knowledge about design. But also, users have knowledge about what's best for them.And without that knowledge, Apple wouldn't be able to design a good phone. And they know it. they do user research,etc.

But in a sense, that's how all luxury marketing works: convincing people that some object bears great significance, because of the sheer talent of it's creators.


Users are "idiots" and you should decide for them.


I find it funny that the human interface guidelines for iOS states the following under User Control:

> Throughout iOS, people—not apps—are in control. An app can suggest a course of action or warn about dangerous consequences, but it’s usually a mistake for the app to take over the decision-making.


“Do as I say and not as I do” has a long and storied history in software.

See also various UI guidelines from Microsoft at times when not a single MS app that was profitable followed those guidelines.


Assuming that comment is not sarcastic, you can choose for the user (default option) and still allow them to change that option somewhere.

Of course implying that there are only two possible solutions to this problem is exactly what Apple wants you to think. It's kind of like Kevin Spacey raping minor boys and saying "okay, you caught me - I'm gay," to avoid any real consequences. It's misdirection.

There are two real solutions to this issue, none of which is being offered or hinted at by Apple:

1) increase battery size to match that of competitors (so up to 2x from what it is now), making the lower battery life over the years a much smaller problem for users

2) compromise a millimitre of thickness and allow users to replace the battery on their own, especially now after Apple gained more space by giving up the audio jack.

But of course Apple doesn't want you to think of any of these. Instead it wants its customers to keep fighting over the "Battery or Performance* faux choice.


Why is the phone randomly shutting off at 40% in the first place? None of the earlier phones did that. It's clearly a design flaw in the newer phones.


I used to have a desktop that would randomly reboot until I replaced the power supply with a higher wattage one, which is more or less what was happening here afaict.


Imagine you sold a thousand of those and after realizing the mistake shipped a bios update that underclocked the CPU instead.


Except, in this case, batteries lose their ability to deliver power as part of normal wear and tear.


Which wouldn't be a problem if apple didn't decide the design life of the iphone was only 1 year. Otherwise they would have correctly accounted for the internal resistance of the battery increasing.


If this gets me the ability to force my phone into low battery mode all the time I’d be for it.

I get caught out with a low battery too often. And having to remember to turn it on every time... if I could remember to do that I’d just remember to plug the damned thing in instead.


> It's impossible because it's very un-Apple.

You mean Apple can't stop jerking around, and for once be useful for the user rather than their bottom line?


Another way to look at this is Apple isn't putting in the right sized batteries in their phones because they believe thinner phone is a better phone. If all it takes is one year for the phone battery to stop providing enough juice to the CPU/GPU then either the battery is not of adequately designed capacity or the CPU/GPU has too much peak power draw for the battery.

Either way looks like a design issue that's just too convenient for Apple to keep selling new phones each year. If they put slightly thicker battery with adequate spare capacity or reduced peak power draw for their SoC people can get 2+ years of consistent performance out of their device. Instead Apple is designing to provide one year of peak performance followed by slow downs so you can go out and get the new phone next year - sounds not very user friendly to me no matter if it looks intentional or not.


Who in the world would run right out and buy a new iPhone if their last one became unusable in one year?

People switch to the iPhone because of their longer usable life compared to the competition. People pay more for old iPhones compared to the competition because of their longer usable life. Not only is it not in Apple's interest to make self-destructing phones, to even accuse them of that requires ignoring the entire history of iPhone adoption and resale value.

Further, there is no "one year" for batteries. Batteries with more charge cycles degrade faster. Batteries that push peak performance more often degrade faster. Batteries that spend time in extreme heat and cold degrade faster. Because of this, a simple anecdote of "throttling after a year" means even less than usual.

No-one has data on how much throttling is going on, but Apple. The best proxy we have is the aggregate purchasing decisions of people who had iPhones, and the prices of used iPhones. And people with iPhones overwhelmingly keep buying iPhones. And the prices of used iPhones aren't going anywhere. This "Apple makes self-destructing phones" theory needs a rest.


> Who in the world would run right out and buy a new iPhone if their last one became unusable in one year?

A lot of people? I'm sure there are tons of people who do this where cost isn't an issue.


Let's assume some measurable number of people might do this, purely for arguments sake. Why does the resale value of old iPhones not reflect these devices being "unusable?"


You keep saying unusable - nobody said throttling makes it unusable, just slower than a year ago when you bought it. Value of iPhones is irrespective of the Apple admitted fact that they do in fact throttle older phones. Some one year later and some two but it is a known fact that it happens. What it has to do with resale values is a separate thing that would be interesting to debate if Apple had not verified the throttling part.


Just a heads up to everyone. I had my 6S battery swapped for free under Apple warranty last weekend. The CPU has remained at 1848mhz the entire time since, all the way down to 1%. It no longer throttles the frequency. You should contact Apple if you're having whacky slowdown issues. Because my old phone feels brand new again.

https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/


Be aware that sometimes the battery replacement "fails" and your phone is lost. They give you a new one but you better have had a back up.


How was your 6S still under warranty? Were you able to claim "manufacturing defect" to Apple?


https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/

Type in your serial number, and it's probably covered.


> Or Apple could make it easier and cheaper to replace the iPhone's battery

Apple charges $79 to replace a battery. Seems cheap to me. And, btw I have been running my SE for a couple of years and the battery is only reduced by 8%. Seems pretty good to me. I think peoples expectations are just absurd.


Anecdotal sample of wear ratios as reported via coconut battery:

- my iPhone 6S, barely one year in: down to 87%, 282 cycles.

- a friend's 6S+, one and a half year in: down to 74%, 398 cycles

- another friend's 6S+, two and a half years in: down to 54%, slightly less than 600 cycles

Those LiPo are supposed to last 800-1000 cycles before dipping below the 80% mark and it's a far cry from that.

Even before I checked the values for mine I noticed a cliff effect when charge goes below 40%, at which point it takes only a dozen of minutes of light use to drain.

This is not OK. I can readily accept a non-replaceable battery on a 800-1000€ phone but it has to keep giving good performance (WRT both battery life and throttling) for three years (it was so for my iPhone 3G and 4). Changing the battery on my dime each year is not an acceptable solution.

This is poor engineering that minmaxes thinness vs battery, and I see the same trend on the MacBook line, which currently makes me very unlikely to upgrade my 2013 rMBP.


I've read somewhere, that I can't find at the moment, that Apple expects/promises that Mac batteries will retain 80% capacity after 1000 cycles, and iOS devices will retain 80% after 500 cycles.

The lower cycle number for iOS devices is presumably due to them being exposed to higher temperatures (in pockets e.g.) and not having any active cooling to counter this.



$79 is quite a bit of money to pay each year, considering I can buy two batteries and a charger for my Android phone on Amazon for far less than that.


My brand new Note 4 battery costs all of $13 and took 30 seconds to change.

The last couple of revisions of phones aren't that much better than previous generations. This seems mainly due to Moore's law slowing down. Heck, Intel hasn't released a process shrink in 4 years. Apple and other vendors are going to have to start pulling even more of these planned obsolescence tricks if technology doesn't pick up soon.


Samsung brand battery, or is it just a replacement part?


I find Anker batteries to be the same or higher quality than Samsung's own. They usually run for about $10-$15.


Battery degradation in iPhones starts after one year. Why would you buy a new battery each year? Even if you were a power user, it would make sense to only change the battery every other year, at most.

Plus $79 for a new battery PLUS expert, warrantied installation is a good value. You're paying for a lot more than just a battery.

(FWIW, I've replaced the batteries in my iPhone 4 and 5 in the last year. It was much easier than I thought it would be. I still have an original launch-day iPhone. Maybe I'll see if I can still find a replacement battery for it.)


A replacement iPhone battery can be bought on eBay for around 10 bucks shipped. I’ve replaced a few iPhone 6 batteries.

Support a small business and have someone else install it for you if you need a new battery. It won’t cost that much. If Samsung had stores they would charge you something near Apples price without question.


How trustable are those no-brand batteries? I'm kind of wary of buying a no-brand battery that will charge everyday on my night stand.


I can't help but find it amusing that you ask if the no-brand batteries are worth your trust. You already paid a premium for a premium device, with a battery that has now shown to have significant limitations over time.

Why wouldn't your first thought be "Hey, maybe Apple doesn't make the best battery for the iphone"? You already know they make a flawed one, maybe someone else makes one that isn't flawed?


The thing I'm worried about is it exploding on my bedroom. That's something we can almost sure that won't happen with an original battery from Apple.


Go with iFixit. I've been happy with them, but I tried a cheap no-name from Amazon, and it refused to hold a charge at all within 48 hours.

(I've mentioned iFixit lately; I'm just a happy repeat customer.)


It will surely be lower quality and degrade quicker than brand one but it will not spontaneously combust if you are worried about that.


That's the thing, with lithium ion batteries, spontaneously combustion is a real worry.

I'll be more than willing to take my chances with a lot of parts on computers/phones/electronics/etc

But the power supply systems are one area I will not buy anything other than OEM or "top of the line" for.

I've fallen asleep with my phone in bed, I have it on a nightstand a foot away from my head most nights, it sits in my pocket for most of the day. That's not something I want to have even a 1% chance of failing when the failure mode is "burst into flames".


Not really, it is a worry in model planes or vaping devices which draw significant current. Phone it has a temperature sensor and only other risk you have is it being bent or punctured.

I always wonder how people use those vaping devices (especially cheap ones from ebay) without fear of them blowing up, energy density is crazy there.


There's only so much the actual phone can do to prevent a problem with a battery though. To put it bluntly, a temperature sensor in the phone isn't going to do shit if one of the battery's internal walls fails due to a manufacturing defect and the thermal runaway starts.

Every month or so I hear of another person who's phone caught fire on their bed, or the whole galaxy note fiasco. While I agree with you that for the most part it's not a worry in devices from reputable manufacturers (like OEMs), but it is and will continue to be a problem for cheaper manufacturers, and suppliers who aren't afraid to lie about what's inside the package.


> I think peoples expectations are just absurd.

From the perspective of environmentalism, I think all phones should have mandatory replaceable batteries. Is that really so absurd? Why are companies allowed to design devices with such disregard for the environment.


All phones do have replaceable batteries, if you're brave enough.

But Apple sets the bravery bar extremely high. The process of replacing a battery in e.g. my SE is insane: https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iPhone+SE+Battery+Replacement/6... describes the teardown, and https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iPhone+Battery+Adhesive+Strips+... the process of applying adhesive to the replacement battery - yes, that second task is complex and difficult enough to require an entire separate guide of its own.

I get that the goal of this design is to ensure that the battery does not move once it's fixed into the case. And I understand why that's necessary. What I don't understand is why it can't practicably be achieved by a combination of closer dimensional tolerances and the application of some thin elastomer to the parts of the case that contact the battery. Given the complexity of the assembly process, I can't imagine that such a design would be more difficult to assemble than the one that shipped, and it would provide a considerably more approachable battery replacement process - I'm not shy about performing my own device repairs, and I'm good enough at it that I haven't ruined anything yet, but this is one where I'd rather pay the $79 to have it done in an Apple store, and the adhesive is about 95% of why.


And all humans _do_ have replaceable kidneys and hearts but we cant't go around hot swapping them on a hike.


The expressed concern around environmentalism suggests we're discussing this in a context of replacing batteries rather than throwing phones away, instead of hot-swapping batteries to keep using a device while away from a charger.


You're right, they technically do. I guess I was imagining something more akin to it being designed to be user-servicable, instead of it just being a technicality that it is possible, subject to having the right tools and nerve to attempt it.


I'm right with you there; it's just that I think we probably have different definitions of "user-serviceable". I'm happy to accept the need for a detailed guide, a set of small screwdrivers, and a pair of steady hands to replace a phone battery - in exchange for having that phone be rock solid before I take it apart and after I put it back together. Maybe it's possible to make a phone with a back that pops off to a fingernail and yet manages not to feel flimsy, but if so, I've never yet met one...


I successfully replaced the battery in an iPhone 3GS once because the battery had inflated like a bag of microwave popcorn. A few months later the replacement battery also did the same.


Close dimensional tolerances sounds like a bad idea for batteries that are likely to expand as they age (which causes home buttons and force touch to stop working)


Really? This is the first I've heard of lithium-chemistry batteries being expected to expand over time. I'd love to know more.


This is not a cost-free shift: additional components are required to make an easily replaceable battery. So you're adding in environmental cost to every phone and in return you get environmental savings from the phones that would be used longer if the battery were more easily replaceable.

It's easy to only think about one side of this issue. To put it another way, think about the additional layer of plastic needed under the battery compartment to protect the device internals while the battery compartment is open. There are additional component changes and efficiencies lost to make this move.

Then there's the battery itself -- the replaceable ones are much more robust in design and shielding -- additional plastic. They also have to have bigger contact points to ensure a good connection.

It might still be a net positive, but it's not a no-brainer call.


Yes, batteries should be replaceable and all those things you mention - '... the additional layer of plastic needed under the battery compartment ...', '... replaceable ones are much more robust in design and shielding -- additional plastic ...' don't make any sense at all. Any 'need for any additional plastic' in devices with replaceable batteries is easily offset with the messy sticky tape Apple deems necessary to hold their batteries in place. In practice the battery usually just lies atop the circuit board with a thin sheet of some insulating material in between. That sheet of material is part of the device and does not need to be replaced when the battery is swapped, this in contrast to the double-sided tape Apple uses which needs to be replaced whenever the battery is removed. Replaceable batteries are no more robust than non-replaceable ones, both consist of a Li-polymer pouch with a bit of circuitry attached somewhere, the combination wrapped in heavy tape or shrink foil.

Batteries should be replaceable without the need for special tools (a simple standard screwdriver (Torx or Phillips) is OK, pentalobe screwdrivers are not) OR they should last the life of the device without significant degradation.


You are free to make the choice to not buy phones you deem environmentally unfriendly.


The batteries are replaceable — you just need a few tools.


That's true for iPhones before the 5 series. After that, it just goes completely bonkers. See my sibling comment to yours, and the two iFixit guides linked from there - as I mention there, I don't regard the idea of doing my own device repairs as especially trepidatory in general, but current Apple hardware is an extremely special case.


True, but we're still not talking about the batteries being soldered to the board, like with RAM or storage on newer computers.


A point, but as far as I know the next phone manufacturer to do that will be the first.


...he said, before checking the iFixit teardown for the used iPod Touch bought to serve as a stereo headend. It's not precisely a phone, but that's not much excuse.


It's not cheap for me, as it is nearly half the amount I paid for my iPhone SE. At that point, I'd be much better off buying a newer phone.

As for the battery only being reduced by 8%, I think that's a huge positive point for the SE and its internals. This phone just lasts so long that you charge it less than the other phones Apple sells.


Did you buy it second hand? Or was that on contract? If on contract, are you sure that's what you paid for it?


That’s about they cost at Walmart with straighttalk. My son still has an SE he bought a few years ago. No contract, just prepaid service every month


SE only came out in March 2016.


Yeah IMHO, the $79 is fine and so is the turnaround time. In fact I had mine replaced for free (6s) through a recall program they had.

IMO, the problem is Apple either tricks you into upgrading your OS or constantly nags you if you don't. When you find out that the new iOS has slowed down your phone, you're forced to keep using it instead of being able to revert your phone back to the factory state - something every user expects out of a consumer device.


I also had mine replaced for free (6s) on the same recall program ~11months ago.

The battery still has 95.7% of the capacity, with 400 cycles, yet my device is throttling the cpu between 30% and 50%. It was how slow it was running that made me upgrade this year instead of the next which was my original plan.

If I had known that replacing the battery fixed the speed problems I would have saved the money.

They really need to communicate this reduced power state to the user.


iOS 11 turned my iphone se from a solid, dependable little device into a flaky, crash-happy rectangle of frustration.

11.2.1 and they still haven't fixed all of the major bugs. Including this one that is driving me insane as a developer: https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=176896


I don't know much about the older versions (last time I have played with iOS was iOS 7 I think), but I have recently got an iPhone 5S for development with iOS 11.2 and it's definitely one of the most glitchy mobile OSes I have ever used - and I've used plenty of community managed AOSP "ROMs", Replicant with missing drivers and some Openmoko distributions. I didn't expect much, but I honestly didn't expect it to be so bad. And I'm not even using it as a phone.


$79 is a lot for a battery.


Yeah, and I support the 'right to repair' laws, which could make that even more affordable.


Samsung charges $25 for a Note 4 battery, and the user can easily replace it. If they had kept the battery as easily replaceable, Samsung wouldn't have had to recall all the Note 7s, instead they could offer to take the phone or ship a safer, lower capacity battery and a consolation prize for lower capacity.


Making battery non-user replaceable we're engineering a time sink + cost sink on the side of the user. This isn't progress, it's rentseeking. $79 per year x 1 billion phones.

Apple profit on the transaction is smaller than my loss. It takes me 15sec to replace battery compared to driving to/from the store & involving 5 people in the process (sales, technicians, accounting). It's a clear win- lose with a negative total transaction.


Given that you can buy these batteries for under $10 on ebay, I do think that $80 is expensive.

Also, Apple‘s service is atrocious. Mail it in, and you‘ll be without a phone for up to two weeks (!). I tried bringing mine to an authorised service provider in Austria, and they told me it would take 24h to get a quote, and the actual repair would take up to two weeks.

I went to a 3rd party shop, it took them about 15minutes to do the swap, and it cost a fraction.


I'm always leery about buying batteries off ebay.


I’ve bought two and they were great. eBay has reviews now so you can have some confidence in the seller.


They’ve had reviews for ages. The problem was that scammers learned how to game them.


I got a new battery for my iPhone 5 for free as part of the recall. It's now going on five years of service and still works fine.


Maybe a third of that is a reasonable price.

Oh, and 50% after two years is a pretty good rough estimate on phones that are charged often.


> running my SE for a couple of years and the battery is only reduced by 8%

Or maybe it's only degraded by 8% because it's only a year and a half (a year and 9 months tops since the first ones were sold) old?


The battery itself is a $10 part. If I value my time at say $100 an hour then the $79 isn't the issue if I have to waste my time going to the Apple Store. $79 is not the issue. My time is.


So on top of spending $800-1000 on a new phone, you'll have to spend $80/year just to maintain its original performance.

Cheap!


I don't think the outrage is excessive and I am more inclined to think poorly of the people not outraged by this. And those ok with the price of replacing something that should be user replaceable anyway.

This is one of the richest companies in the world who charge some ridiculous prices for their products arbitrarily slowing down older models of their phones on purpose for no other reason than to force their customers to upgrade to newer phones. Planned obsolescence. Their stated reason for doing this is smacks of bullshit.


I'm in full agreement with you. A good chunk of the comments in this thread seem ridiculous to me. Some people not deeming these users as doing anything important enough ("Most users just use their phones for casual internet browsing, candy crush, and texting.") to get what they paid for.

Here's another one, apparently straight from Apple's marketing team: "It makes perfect sense for Apple to optimize their devices for stability and max run time."

This was perfectly timed to come out just after the silly Mozilla thing, with people talking about how they've lost trust in the company; here's Apple gimping their hardware and not telling their paying customers a damn thing about it.


The difference between the Mozilla thing and this though is the level of outrage and the fact people are actually trying to make excuses for Apple.

Mozilla did their thing imho in all naivety. Someone there thought that would be "cool" you know because Mr robot is cool, but clearly missed the point.

Apple have a history of trying to pass off design flaws as features; antennagate anyone? As far as I'm concerned if you know that a component will deteriorate over time like a battery making it practically impossible to replace is a design flaws.


I smell a lawsuit coming. Its perfectly fine if the phones are designed to slow down as long as this information is disclosed to the customers. Intentionally misleading customers is illegal. Its probably splitting hairs, but I can easily see a law firm looking into this.


The only reason I'm upset by this is speculative.

If I buy a 'boost' battery case because I know the battery is going to be getting worse with time does their software solution acknowledge this and let me keep the full speed my phone should have?


No, it only checks the battery state. I'm suspicious it runs off the battery even when plugged in, and works like power>charge controller>battery>power management>system rather than power>power management>system when plugged in(or "plugged in" to a case). An iphone usually wont boot with no battery


Apple's power management decisions have always been a little... odd. This throttling reminds me of their older Macbooks with removable batteries, which would actually slow down when running on mains power only, because they (deliberately) designed their AC adapters to not be able to supply enough power to run the computer at full load:

https://web.archive.org/web/20080913210306/http://support.ap...?

The exact opposite of all other laptops I've used, where AC-only/AC+battery will be the highest performance, with battery-only being the least.

It'd be interesting to see if these iPhones run faster or slower when plugged in and charging.


I just ran Geekbench with it plugged in. Got the same crappy performance with an iPhone 6, getting 1000, when it should be 1400. Here I was hoping a battery case would do the trick.


This brings to mind Louis CK's "everything's amazing and nobody's happy" routine from several years ago[1]. Sure, Apple could communicate this, and a thousand other trade-offs like it, but that would shatter the illusion which people pay Apple so much money for: a magic black box that just works.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8LaT5Iiwo4


It makes perfect sense for Apple to optimize their devices for stability and max run time. These are arguably the most important features of any device.

Any other behavior, including offering the user power options (because many users won't understand them) would introduce a poorer user experience (abrupt hard shutdowns, constant need to charge) and likely sway some portion of non-tech users to purchase a different brand when they refresh.

At the end of the day the battery is replaceable and if you chose to buy an iPhone you're already aware that they it is a "premium" device.


Suddenly having half the CPU speed is not what I'd call "stability".


Where I am from, "premium" devices were expected to work better than the competition, not to mislead you trying to hide the fact that they are worse.


Spoken like a tone-deaf apple PR person. The entire furor around this suggests your opinion is not shared by the general populace. A problem I usually run into with product managers.


A the verge article represents the opinion of the general populace? Please.


It's a tradeoff, would you rather have to charge it more or have it slow down slightly to extend battery life?


My iPhone 6 was plenty fast and had pl not of battery life to last a day with typical use before the last iOS major update.

I think that the media are being far to sympathetic to this battery life idea. Really the ought to be tearing Apple apart for the 6S’s shutdown problem!

Who does this hurt? Consumers. Who does this help? Apple.


I am OK with it slowing down, I am NOT OK with it not telling me about it.


It's disingenuous on Apple's part to slow down the phone without notifying the user. So instead of a user knowing the battery is degrading and can be replaced for just $79, the user is led to think the phone performance is degrading and probably needs to upgrade the whole thing.


But the part that makes this trick even more ingenious is that you will not notice phone slowing down by 1% every month and write it off as being some sort of observational bias.


I don't believe that the phone is slowing down to extend battery life. I believe it is because when batteries degrade, they can no longer supply the same max voltage they used to. This can lead to CPU instability, and CPU voltage requirements can be reduced by underclocking. It makes more sense to me since the race to sleep would be faster if the iPhone still had its higher max clock speed, which would actually save your battery more often than not.


This is probably it. There is no way to tell the remaining charge of a lithium battery other than estimating it from the voltage which drops with the level of charge. It also drops more when it provides more power and this gets worse as the battery is aging (increasing internal resistance). This is why your phone might think that it has 20% battery remaining according to the voltage, but the second you open a power hungry app, the voltage drops below a safe level and the phone shuts down.


Slightly?

IIRC from those Geekbench scores it seemed as low as 50%.


Can confirm, my 6s with an 11 months old battery serviced by Apple, 95% of original capacity, and ~400cycles throttles between 30% and 50%.


You missed option 3: Replace the battery.


I'd like to be able to choose actually. But Apple has really changed over the years and choice isn't part of the user experience, everything is pretty passive aggressive. Examples:

* aggressive high sierra push notification * "skip for now" instead of "no thanks" for icloud sign-in * really really hard to disable features (like application resume)


When were Apple about choices? Maybe in the Apple II days?


I think the outrage is a bit excessive. People buy apple phones because they want all the technical details abstracted away and they don't want to have to make the decisions on things like the tradeoff between clock speed and battery life. That's Apple's selling point in a way, making technology accessible.

If you want to tune your core voltages then isn't that what Android is for?


People aren't upset because they cannot tune the voltage themselves; they're upset because of a lack of communication.

You cannot make informed purchasing decisions if manufacturers are hiding this kind of information from you. How many people bought a new iPhone due to degraded performance when a new battery would have fixed it right up? People didn't have the information to make that choice, and I believe that's what's upsetting at least some people.


I actually think that the outrage is not enough, this problem wouldn't even happen if people were able to easily swap batteries like everyone did 10 years ago.

Wasn't it obvious to Apple that batteries start to suffer from degradation over time? Wasn't it obvious that the solution to this was the replacement of batteries? If so, why didn't they implement a replaceable battery?


That only works because Apple has been so good at executing technical details in a way that benefits the consumer. Everything just works.

When it starts not just-working, that shows up in the experience with the device, and it no longer makes sense to tell people they shouldn't be asking questions.


Not that excessive, imo.

When you pay a lot of money for a high performance phone (which is what all iPhones are when they're released), you also expect it to perform accordingly for a reasonable amount of time.


This situation provides another good argument for the need for Free software operating systems, especially on mobile devices.


I did not notice a big difference with my iPhone 6 and 10.2. I have noticed a difference with 11.2. Very low sample counts of CPU frequency using the "CPU DasherX" app seem to back this up: my CPU has gone from running at 1.4GHz prior to 11.2 to 600-839MHz after the 11.2 update.

I'm averaging roughly 3.25 years per iPhone, having upgraded from 3GS to 4 to 6 over the past ten years. I'm going to replace the battery on my 6 and see how long I can keep it going.


One should be able to repair and swap batteries in electronics including the batteries. It is not sustainable for the environment to buy and throw cell phones every few years apart. One should alas be able to reuse components such as displays.

If one would be able to swap batteries in the iPhone and Samsung s7 there would have been a less issue.

Phones should also have boot loaders allowing free operating systems. It would help with new environmental laws demanding reapairability.


> It is not sustainable for the environment to buy and throw cell phones every few years apart.

I don't disagree with your overall point, but is this part actually true? How does the environmental impact of creating a phone compare with that of creating a TV which might only last 10 years, or a car? Feels to me like the phone impact must be pretty minimal.


My question would be - how are you supposed to know when to replace the battery? You can judge your battery capacity fairly decently yourself - if the phone used to be at 40% after a day of hard use and now it barely makes it to bedtime you know its degraded. Measuring relative performance of the phone would be very difficult to gauge yourself. Granted, in both situations you could have other issues (unknown apps running etc), but if you aren't changing anything about your phone for the most part you'll know when the battery is not doing as good as it has. You then know to replace it.

Even if this isn't planned obsolescence, it is tangential to it. They know they are putting a new phone out every year or so, and they are hedging their bets that people will move to it so this decision makes total sense for them financially. It feels underhanded even if not fraudulent, they made a decision that is better for them than you. God forbid you have to charge your phone during the day?


Apple needs to do way better at informing the user when the battery is notably degraded, and when that degradation is leading to notable throttling.

Particularly, when as the throttling is severe (more than 25% or so) and when the user is encountering it with any frequency.


This is another example of a corporation that's too greedy and dishonest. Apple is by no means the only one. I'm sure there are going to be many "fan boys" and girls or maybe marketeers that will try to justify this, but the fact remains that the company that manufactures and sells the most expensive device in the market and has 100% control over the hardware and software , is degrading its performance on purpose. The user has no knowledge of this (hence the lying) and doesn't have the option of replacing the battery in an easy way. Who tells me that this isn't part of a strategy so that the user will buy the newest and more expensive phone...


100% there will be multiple class action lawsuits regarding this. Whether it's right or wrong going to be people that will wanna see if they can throw something against the wall and make it stick.


In January, 2016, I put my two-month-old 6S into the Apple battery case, and it's been there to this day. One of the benefits of the case is that it uses the case's external battery first. During a typical day, I never use the internal battery (when traveling I end up using both).

I don't have any empirical evidence to support it, but I've noticed no degradation in performance of the phone. Given this news I'd like to attribute that to the minimal use of the internal battery.


How does your phone know it need use your case battery first?


The last time I replaced a battery was for my 5S and I noticed it definitely got snappier. My SE is a year old right now at 92% and I'm quite happy with it. I suppose if I was running benchmarks on it all day long, I'd notice. Maybe if I was doing mobile gaming and losing, I'd notice. But I don't.

So if this approach gives me a more hours albeit less snappier hours, I'm good with this. But it should be a mode.


This was a surprise to me. I always thought Apple engineers worked on the next flagship device and the lag on older hardware was because they didn't optimize iOS for the older devices. As an app developer myself I tend to test my app on the latest device that I could get hold of and the older devices are an after thought (most of the time).


It would be quite different if they reduced speed without a need to control battery expenditure. Planned obsolescence is a benefit to future sales, but seems this is a technical requirement to work around limitations of batteries.

Transparency to end user would be helpful to end user. Doesn’t full performance come back when running on wire power?


How is this news like 3 or 4 times? I'm serious when I say I believe this has hit the frontpage that many times or more...


Woah. I have a 2013 macbook that was getting pretty sluggish even for browsing. Thankfully the battery is easily removeable and I could test this. After removing it I noticed a great difference! I'll try to live with the dangers of a sudden power loss from the cable unplugging.

Why throttle the ac connected devices?


Apple seems to be side-stepping the real issue: them not making iPhones with user-replaceable batteries.

There are multiple ways in which Apple can do planned obsolescence without actually there being a record somewhere of a "meeting on planning to make the iPhone obsolete".


Why can't this just be rolled into "Low Power Mode" or something?

I have a charger at work, at home, and in the car. I'm used to having to charge things. Just having a reduced battery life is fine with me.

The reason why they're taking the "reduced performance" route is that it is planned obsolescence. It drives sales of new phones in a world where the actual phone, if well-protected, could last a decade. In our current world where smartphones have plateaued for years and Moore's Law has stagnated, it makes business sense to artificially induce a marked GUI performance difference between an older and newer phone. But it sucks for the consumer, and this sort of intentional downgrading should almost be illegal.

Glad to know I just have to change the battery. ~$40-50 at a local shop.


They should at least give an option in settings. What is the algorithm for slowdown? Is it guaranteed to be fixed on replacing the battery or its just a linear decay function based on age of phone.


FYI, I ran the benchmark with power from wall and with out, and got the same performance. It appears to check battery life before deciding core speed.


This is so over blown, but expected for something related to Apple.

Batteries wear out and need to be replaced after a year or two. Apple does something to make the phones last longer, and people frame it as a negative.

I’ve replaced a handful of batteries in iPhons and it is quite easy for anyone who knows how to use a screw driver and watch a YouTube video. Or just pay some small business to replace it.


The problem is that there is no way for a user to know that they can spend 79$ to fix the problem. Most will asume that is has become slow and think the only solution is spending +700$ on a new one.


The fact that this was never communicated to users is what's the big issue here.

Users may not know that their battery performance is degraded. And even if they knew, how would you expect the average user to correlate bad battery health with low system performance?

Apple should have notified users of battery health issues (they do so on MacBooks, for example) and the impact on system performance.


Just curious what happens to the benchmarks when the phones are plugged in to a charger?


I'd rather have more battery life. I see no problem with this.


100%. Most users will never know or care about this. Most users just use their phones for casual internet browsing, candy crush, and texting. They'll never notice the slowdown like they would notice the battery life decrease. You have to target the main consumer base of your product and make things work well for them, even if the loud tech community minority may get upset.


I noticed the slowdown. Never believed in planned obsolescence so I though it could be an optimisation problem in iOs 11 but problem persisted after several os updates.

I finally decided to upgrade to an X because how bad it was. Turns out it is throttling by as much as 50% (I still have the phone) so I could have just spent 79$ instead of buying a new iPhone.

The same will happen to a lot of people.


The problem is that this "Feature" is/was hidden, after 1 year when a new iPhone is launched and the person would test it , he will notice a big performance improvement so in a way he will be tricked to think the new iPhone is much more perform ant so he will be tempted to buy a new phone instead of replacing the battery. If instead he would be informed that his CPU runs at 50% because of old battery and that a battery replacement would fix the performance issue then the users would not feel cheated.


I've been an iPhone user since launch, but this really is user-hostile behavior.

I understand why they did it, and it's not bad as a field-patch to a hardware bug, but doing it silently is pretty skeevy.

They should have mentioned this in the original battery recall, and displayed a warning on the battery screen in Settings, at the least.


> casual internet browsing, candy crush, and texting.

All these slow down as well. Try using instagram on low battery.


I’d rather have the ability to choose. I recently had my battery replaced (6S) and saw my Geekbench 4 score go from ~1700 to ~2450. My phone is frequently attached to a charging cord at my desk during the day so battery life is less of concern, yet this CPU throttling occurred even when the old battery was at 100% and phone was connected to the charger. There’s really no excuse for that other than that Apple was trying to be deceptive.


To those who've read the article: is the performance limit lifted when the device is put on a charger?


Please don't bring lazyweb to HN.




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