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Letter from Tim Cook to Apple Investors (apple.com)
535 points by minimaxir 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 671 comments



"...customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements"

Very interesting that Apple included this as someone who took advantage of a $29 battery replacement for my 6S just last month. The chain of decisions that took place for this to happen should be a lesson for more companies.

I imagine it went something like this:

- Feedback that iPhones were shutting down unexpectedly due to degraded and/or defective batteries.

- Instead of shouldering the battery replacement immediately, the product team decides to change the performance envelope of the phone.

- The root issue is not addressed.

- Betterygate™ inevitably happens.

- Apple heavily subsidizes battery replacements for everyone

- Some people decide that they'll stick with their phone a bit longer than they otherwise would have, reducing iPhone sales.

- Apple misses their earnings target, likely costing them more in value than it would have cost them to address the root issue in the first place.

Of course there are other factors addressed in the letter, but this issue was notable enough to be included.


> I imagine it went something like this....

>- Apple heavily subsidizes battery replacements for everyone

> - Some people decide that they'll stick with their phone a bit longer than they otherwise would have, reducing iPhone sales.

> - Apple misses their earnings target

This is a gross misrepresentation of the report which clearly states "Greater China and other emerging markets accounted for the vast majority of the year-over-year iPhone revenue decline."

Battery replacements may have been notable, but it is incorrect to imply that they were the dominant factor.


> Of course there are other factors addressed in the letter, but this issue was notable enough to be included.


This is a causation/correlation failure IMO

OP is attempting to place causation on the battery problem for the earnings miss or the valuation loss.

That is not supported by the evidence, which clearly shows that the primary cause had nothing to do with the Western market at all.

It's fair criticism, OP is discussing 5% of the problem and presenting it as if it's 100%.


OP did not say "mishandling batterygate screwed Apple's earnings", but instead pointed out that something that could have been better handled and would have cost significantly less was considered a big enough mistake to be mentioned.

OP not implying causation, they're calling something interesting out.


I fundamentally disagree with your analysis, as OP helpfully listed their entire thinking out:

    > "It went something like this:" 
    > .... 
    >- Some people decide that they'll stick with their phone a bit ?longer than they otherwise would have, reducing iPhone sales.
    >- Apple misses their earnings target, likely costing them more in value than it would have cost them to address the root issue in the first place.
OP using a list format is implying a causative link between battery issues and earnings targets. OP even suggests that their value would be safe had they simply corrected the battery issue earlier.

It's an extremely clear post they made, IMO


> a causative link between battery issues and earnings targets

There's is a causative link, which is why Apple included it in this report. How is it possible to miss that connection?


You’re misunderstanding the thread here. OP suggested batteries, a minor factor in the report, were the primary cause in the earnings drop. For whatever reason there are people who really badly want to believe this. swish_bob countered, inaccurately, that OP did not claim causation.

Now that we all can agree swish_bob is wrong, the problem remains that OP misrepresented the primacy of the factors stated in the report.


> were the primary cause in the earnings drop.

No he didn't, stop making stuff up. Apple would not have bothered to mention the battery issue if it didn't have a material impact on their business.


Yes, he literally did. Right here:

> - Some people decide that they'll stick with their phone a bit longer than they otherwise would have, reducing iPhone sales.

> - Apple misses their earnings target, likely costing them more in value than it would have cost them to address the root issue in the first place.

There's an implicit "because of this" between the two bullet points.

Again, it's painting a problem that is 5% of the issue as if it's 100%.

China was the vast majority of this decline, as the earnings reports show.

I have no earthly idea why people are ignoring this fact so badly.


> There's an implicit "because of this" between the two bullet points.

Not about this being the most significant factor. You've decided to infer that from the list - most of us didn't because he _explicitly_ says so in his last sentence. They also had influence over this particular issue, unlike the macroeconomics of China.


> Not about this being the most significant factor.

It absolutely is suggested, if not implicitly then by omission.

> They also had influence over this particular issue, unlike the macroeconomics of China.

Right, but the more it's discussed, the more it feels like people don't want to talk about the slowing economy in China.


> OP suggested batteries, a minor factor in the report, were the primary cause in the earnings drop.

I don't get that in the least little bit from what he wrote. Nothing in his post even references the earnings drop.


> Nothing in his post even references the earnings drop.

“- Some people decide that they'll stick with their phone a bit longer...

- Apple misses their earnings target”

Direct quote.


I feel like I'm taking crazy pills considering how many people are completely ignoring the very obvious connotation here. It's like they're willfully ignoring the Chinese market issue entirely.


Despite noting that the comment still implies that battery replacements were the dominant factor why “Apple misses their earnings target.” This is an invalid logical leap in its step by step reasoning.


> implies that battery replacements were the dominant factor why

No it doesn't, only that it was "notable enough".


Clearly that is not "only" what it says. It jumps directly from "stick with their phone a bit longer... reducing iPhone sales" to "Apple misses their earnings target, likely costing them more in value than it would have cost them to address the root issue." That is very clearly drawing a casual relationship between the two things, and underscores it by stating it "should be a lesson for more companies" on how to avoid such outcomes.

The last line is a dodge because, obviously, China's economy is actually the main culprit stated in the report. But I guess some people are going to hear what they want to hear.


The recent devices are more overpriced than ever and getting over the limit of what ordinary people are willing to pay for a phone.

I have an iPhone 6s and my wife had a 6 and needed a new phone. We bought a new Xr but it was a small fortune, even though we're both working in IT and having good income. The phone is a brick and I saw lots of slicker Android phones costing half the price and providing a very similar if not better experience.

My next phone is very unlikely to be an iPhone.


What exactly does this have to do with the comment you're replying to?


> But I guess some people are going to hear what they want to hear.

Like what you're doing with these replies and your focus on something the OP didn't say?


I’ve entirely focused on what the OP said using extensive direct quotes. Your reply invalid.


[flagged]


Please refrain from using ad hominem remarks on Hacker News.


First time I've been insulted for sounding too logical on a programmer forum.


Yes of course, but the narrative the OP constructed where this is the only cause mentioned is clearly a misrepresentation.


yes it mentions the battery replacements and emerging markets as well.

I think he forgets to mention lack of innovation. It was the first year that I wasn't surprised from the new iPhone at all and none of my friends did. At this point I don't see much difference in having an X model vs XS.

You'll tell me that they had S models in the past and worked fine for them, sure... its not the same market anymore. There are very strong competitors using android which has also evolved and its doing really well as an OS vs what it was in the past at way cheaper prices.

At the price tag those iPhones are coming at plus the lack of innovation, I only see a constant drop in sales.

Personally I upgraded from an iPhone 7 to XS Max, my wife has an iPhone X and I don't see any difference between them, only the size. That plus the fact that I got my hands on some new android phones and got to use them made me think that I might change to android when my next upgrade is due. The apple ecosystem seems to be okish but I can't really say that it will keep me from changing. And truth be told there are quite a few solutions out there for them to become innovative again like the new ipad pro... have it use OS instead of iOS, that will definitely make people switch over to that and what comes with its ecosystem e.g pairing your mobile phone etc. Also airpods 2, just make some airpods with water resistance etc maybe improve connectivity a bit. Its not like we are requesting crazy innovation here, just simple solutions that will make us stick with the apple ecosystem.

Disclaimer: I was an avid windows user and android phone user up till iphone 5s came out, I switched to 5s and the difference on iOS quality vs Android was massive. Due to work I also started working with a mac and so I joined the ecosystem and I can't say am very displeased apart from the price tag, but seeing how Android has progressed over the years and how stock Android can be even superior to iOS has made me thinking of changing back.


I'd also point out that iOS 12 has made older devices significantly more usable. If it weren't for a battery replacement, combined with iOS 12, I would be looking to replace my iPhone 6.


To be fair, Apple did something good here knowing full well it would impact their bottom line. This long-time SE user is thankful.


What parts of the iPhone X cycle are less innovative than previous generations?

Which competitors are innovating better than Apple?

With AirPods, they mentioned yesterday that they were supply constrained throughout the holiday quarter. I'm not sure innovation on that product is an issue here if they can't keep the current version stocked enough to meet demand anyways.


I switched from a Nexus 5 to an IPhone 7 and I am extremely happy. I like the hardware and software integration. I like the better battery life. I like that I can turn off all notifications from a single menu. What I like most of all is the consistent interface. I do not like to learn how to use a new interface on every release. Nokia use to be great with this in the early days before touch screen phones.


It's also important to note that China is generally experiencing a harsh economic slowdown.

https://theweek.com/speedreads/815565/data-reportedly-signal...

It would seem that this issue is far broader than simply Apple's strategy alone.


Was battery replacement not available in those areas?


Battery replacement scheme was available India. But, due to absence of Apple store, users have to go to Apple authorized service vendors where services take days. It took me 5 days to replace the battery in Dec 2018 because battery had to be specially ordered.(I live in major Indian city.) Cheap Android phones from Xiaomi etc are flooding the Indian market. If Apple doesn't ramp up the quality of experience in areas other than Hardware and OS, it's gonna lose whatever market share it has in India.


That’s India’s fault for not allowing foreign companies to own stores:

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-there-no-Apple-store-in-India-1

I can’t imagine Apple headquarters wanting to ignore a 100 million rich people market, but obviously it’s not worth the trade off of having to become business partners with someone they don’t want to be partners with.


Well Samsung, One Plus and others are thriving in India, they dont have their own stores. So clearly its not the stores. The major factor is price (Apple tax + Indian Tax = One very expensive phone.


My understanding is that the only thing that really matters in China is the availability of WeChat.

What phone you've got matters little as a result. So Apple doesn't enjoy its usual iOS-stickiness factor.


That's not quite right, although yes WeChat rules in China. Having the new shiny does matter - source, my wife is Chinese and I have a Chinese sister-in-law and niece both which got the X last year.

They are absolutely typical Chinese consumers in this regard. As soon as iPhone because hard to distinguish from other phones they switched away. As soon as iPhones became clearly distinguishable again they switched back. This is not just an observation, they say this is why they did it.

I think there are actually three factors hitting Apple in China this year. One is that a disproportionate number of purchasers got the X when it came out because it was so distinctive bringing forward purchases from this year, then there are a lot of Android phones now that look like the X models and the new X models don't look enough different from the original X to look new, finally the economy in China is pretty soft right now and people there are worried about the future.


You missed the fourth, which is a trade war going on that is inducing a soft boycott of iPhones. Some of those users may be lost permanently to local alternatives.


WhatsApp has pretty much eclipsed iMessage in many markets too.


I’m not sure what you mean by “address the root issue”.

The root issue is that batteries degrade over time, for everyone, not just apple. iPhone’s did a good job hiding that away by degrading performance along with it.

The same thing still happens with new phones, but now apple just tells you when it happens. My X crashed in the cold and it said something like “your battery couldn’t provide peak power and your phone is now in degraded performance mode. Disable this setting in the settings app.”


The main difference is _consent_ and it should not require an explanation on why it is important. May be I am strange for wanting transparency? I do not want such facts to be hidden. Slowly degrading my user experience over time with no way of me knowing why is not a good way of handling battery degradation. And so I strongly disagree with you and the child comment, Apple did not do 'a good job' hiding it, and them now handling it as they should have in the first place does not deserve praise.


At the level of battery management, yes I think you are "weird" in the general population (like all of us here by the way).

I don't see this as any different than the thousands of other OS management decisions like how to manage memory of new tabs or apps when you have a dozen open. What if you want to keep the memory/bandwidth etc... going for one app and not the others? Where's the consent there? Same idea IMO


Because in most other examples the decisions it makes have a virtually hidden effect. However in the case of the battery issue, the performance degradation was _very_ noticeable, causing years of comments on Apple intentionally obseleting old devices by slowing them down.

Put this way - if your car suddenly refused to go above 30mph when previously you'd happilly race along the highway at 70mph, you'd wonder what the hell was wrong, and not think "Oh well, my car manufacturer is just trying to extend the life of my vehicle, it's fine."


> the performance degradation was _very_ noticeable, causing years of comments on Apple intentionally obseleting old devices by slowing them down.

You just disproved your own point. This throttling was only implemented shortly before it got noticed and Apple announced it’s existence, like a couple of months at most. Apparently it wasn’t ‘very noticable’ and the perceived slowdowns were all in your head because for all those years you claim this was going on, it wasn’t.


your car analogy is not a good one.

modern cars retune their engines on the fly based on engine temperature, fuel quality, local air pressure, and other factors. this is to extend the life of the engine in general and to prevent catastrophic failure from knocking.

if you use your car as an appliance (the way most people use phones/computers), you will barely notice the fact that your car's performance is constantly varying other than a bit of sluggishness on a cold morning. to an enthusiast, it's almost impossible not to notice what the car is doing.

most apple customers just want their phone to not crash. if you offer them a performance/stability tradeoff they won't know what to pick anyway.


Sure. Except the manufacturer is not trying to extend the life of your vehicle. They're trying to avoid you running out of gas at 70mph on the highway.


You realize that literally no cars actually do this, basically proving parent's point


Exactly this happened to my father last fall with a Audi Q1. It finally turned out to be a electronics issue, but the car was limiting itself to very low max speeds (40 kmh or so, which legally disallowed my father from using the Autobahn).

With a car the obvious answer is: get the thing checked immidiately. He did, and he still had to drive around like this for 2 weeks till a replacement part arrived.


I don’t realize that. It happens all the time. There are many services dedicated to helping stranded people because of it.

The analogy is not quite right though. It’s more like they are forcibly reducing max speed to prevent a high speed stall.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/azdailysun.com/news/local/state...


Cars break. They don't rate limit you. Please share with me a model of vehicle that reduces your max speed because you're low on gas.



Thanks. I still think this is more of the exception than the rule, but I do stand corrected.

https://www.autoblog.com/2010/11/11/hybrid-run-out-of-gas/


> Slowly degrading my user experience over time with no way of me knowing why is not a good way of handling battery degradation.

Your user experience will always degrade with battery age. This is an unavoidable consequence of using a rechargeable battery. It is physically impossible to run a Li-ion battery through hundreds of charge cycles and have it work just as well as it did the day it was new.

Without power management, the phone would turn off sooner, in some cases a lot sooner. That is also a bad user experience, especially if you need the phone to make an emergency call. This is one example of why using software code to prolong phone availability creates a better user experience, even if comes at the expense of peak performance.


You say degradation is inevitable, hence implying this kind of degradation is unavoidable.

But to draw an analogy: that's kind of like saying death is inevitable, so there's nothing we can do about infant mortality. It's absurd to suggest that some kind of physical inevitability caused the symptoms actually observed to any significant extent whatsoever.

Battery aging does not need to lead to any user experience degradation within the first few years at least, because you can overprovision a battery, and because such overprovisioning actually not only provides some runway, but also reduces even the relative rate of battery decay.

Not to mention there are a bunch of other things a manufacturer does that influence battery lifespan. Which design aspects are at fault here? Apple surely knows by now, but they're not saying.

But even if you do choose to allow slow degradation - entirely reasonable! - the rate of decay is largely a matter of choice for the manufacturer. You can sell em to last for at least a decade if not more, or you can push em to the limits and have em degrade in months. Sure, that might cost a few extra grams and cost a few percentage points of the maximum initial charge - but nothing a user would likely notice, let alone mind.

Apple simply sold near dumpster-level quality li-on battery integrations - whether by accident, or to save money, or to limit device lifespan - we can't really know.


> you can overprovision a battery

Which comes at a cost, in dollars, size and weight. Which is why it's probable no phone manufacturers actually do this.


That's not true; every manufacturer, including apple, does this. The question is simply to what degree. Battery chargers need to decide upto which voltage level to charge, and at which voltage level to consider a cell depleted; and similarly need to decide at which temperature to throttle during discharge - and at least as importantly - during charging. And it's not like it's got to cost and arm and a leg; even small amounts of additional headroom can likely prevent problems like apple's.

Basically: you can throttle after the battery is damaged or before. And if you throttle beforehand, you need to throttle a lot less.

Finally, you imply this is costly - but don't forget that apple's phones are amongst the most costly out there, and similar sized batteries are found in devices a small fraction of the cost. Clearly the bill of materials for the battery isn't a going to be a big deal for apple, compare to those competitors, which also happened to ship higher quality batteries.


That makes Li-ion pretty bad for motor vehicle use now, doesn’t it?


Not really, but its a fair question. An automotive application will degrade significantly over hundreds of cycles as well. As a result, the power output will decline a little (not quite as good 0-60 times as new) and range will decline as well.

The significance of this will vary, largely based upon the range of the car. Think about how many cycles the battery takes after 100,000 miles on a car with a 100 mile range vs one with a 300 mile range, for example.


No, it is simply a maintenance issue. There are already plenty of those in motor vehicles, and people are well-trained to track and manage them.


> No, it is simply a maintenance issue. There are already plenty of those in motor vehicles, and people are well-trained to track and manage them.

In addition, car batteries have:

a) vastly better charge controllers than the cheap crap that's put in phones

b) better quality cells to start with, or at the very least higher QA standards

c) BETTER CHARGERS. Cheap cellphone chargers can kill the battery with their unclean power, especially when linked with cheap charge controllers in the phone.

d) better thermal management with cooling and (iirc) heating, compared with a cellphone battery that has to endure anything between double-degree negative temps in winter to +40 °C when it gets held by the user or the CPU gets active.


Apple did not slowly degrade the user experiebnce over time, they throttled the cpu in order to prevent the phone crashing due to a old battery, do you think that a phone that crashes sporadically is a better user experience?

As you state it is an issue of consent to this throttling, if it was communicated effectively this wouldn’t have been a ‘Gate’.

A good way described in a podcast (think it was Rene Ritchie on the talk show) would be to let the phone crash then pop up a message with an explanation of what’s happened, that the phone is now dialled down to prevent future crashes, you can turn it off in settings etc..


It is simple really, if the battery's health has declined enough to warrant a down clock, just let me know so I can:

a) replace the battery.

b) opt-in to degraded performance.

c) upgrade my device.

Rather than (in effect) tricking me into an upgrade before it was really needed.


a) It is perfectly possible to include a battery, that, even degraded over some time, can provide enough peak power. b) They could have sold their approach as a feature. Or they could have included a warning: Slowed down, replace battery. Similar to what they do now. But no, they kept it secret. Ask yourself why.

Also, if you have that functionality, why crash and then display a message. Write: Crash prevented, but clocked down. Look what a Raspberry PI does: It flashes an icon if the power supply is not keeping up.


> The main difference is _consent_ and it should not require an explanation on why it is important.

What a copout. There is no good reason. Your phone already does a 1000 things that you don't know about. Do you also want access to how many cores are used, which ones, what speed they are running at, which frequency your phone is using, how the GPS is getting its location, etc...


Why not? PC BIOS provides access to a ton of advanced settings on gaming motherboards. If you don't want to fiddle with things, don't, but don't tell others they cannot.


Most of those examples don't directly impact user experience, create an increasing performance gap with new phones that would make an upgrade a bit more desirable or in cases where there are applications that push new hardware to the limit, make applications effectively incompatible with the hardware.


no, but if my phone is going to massively slow down I want to know why so that I can correct it, rather than being left in the dark and ending up buying a new phone for no good reason.


I think the key legal point was that they changed how the phone worked after that sold it. (I anal)


This is so misleading as to be false.

Batteries do not all degrade alike; not even close. There are huge differences in the rate of decay, and those are significantly impacted by the way the battery is used in the device (particularly maximum charging level, temperature, discharging level, power draw, charging rate) and the quality of the battery.

Apple did NOT do a good job of degrading performance along with it; because if they had, they could have degraded performance before the battery became damaged. As a ballpark, I'd expect a life extension for the iphones in question by at least a factor 10 would be technically fairly simple and affordable; i.e. this isn't peanuts that apple left on the table here. A 10 year life expectancy is totally doable.

So a battery as old as the decaying iPhone batteries need not have decayed significantly, as should be obvious considering that not all phones (let alone other Li-On battery devices!) degrade to this extent. The fact that iPhones did decay like this is almost entirely due to choices that Apple made (even if they made those choices without considering the consequences). Apple is pretty competent, so I'm a little skeptical they didn't know they were pushing the edge of what's reasonable, but sure, maybe it was incompetence rather than intentional penny-pinching or planned obsolescence.

User choices can matter too, but given how locked down these devices are and how managed the environment and how technically nuanced the necessary user actions are to have an ameliorating effect it's unreasonable to assume users had any practical ability to avoid this outcome.


Can you please expand on how users can maximise battery longevity through their charging and usage techniques?


Sure: try to avoid the phone getting hot; don't charge the phone when it's hot; and definitely don't use the phone while it's charging if doing so causes it to become hot. Problematic phones are probably tuned to close to the physical limits; so "retune" manually: disconnect the charger before it reaches 100% (even a few percent matter). Never use quick charging on phones that are living near the edge like this (or accept that each time you do you're doing a little damage to the cells, so use it sparingly). Similarly, don't run the phone completely to 0% charge. But also don't recharge constantly after each tiny usage.

It's much harder for users to do this reliably than for the battery controller. Damage is maximized when all factors align; that's e.g. why controllers automatically turn of quick charge for the last few percent; similarly you can get away with violating a few rules without too much damage as long as you don't violate them all.

Finally, 0% and 100% charge are nebulous floating concepts. What you're really guessing at are the voltage levels in the cells - but again as a user it's kind of hard to guess those in a simplified UI. Is 95% worse than 5%? Typically high charge is worse but... who knows, without knowing what the controller actually interprets as those percentages.

I've never looked, but I'd be willing to bet you can find software to do most all of this automatically on a rooted android; to what degree you can automate care on other platforms - I'm not sure.

But again, the whole situation is mildly idiotic: all of these things the battery controller/OS can do too, and probably better that any user. There shouldn't be a need for much user handholding. The only thing the OS really can't do is choose for you when you're willing to accept a small amount of damage for a temporary dash of extra charge or quicker charging; a feature that by default kept your battery in "care mode", with a temporary toggle to charge more quickly or to a higher level.

A quick google find stuff like https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_l... and research articles such as https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/binary/pdf/corporate/tec... and http://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/249356/... and https://res.mdpi.com/batteries/batteries-02-00013/article_de... - and I'm sure there are hundreds more. It's not too hard to find info on Li-ion battery degradation, but it's a little much to expect even expert users to actually do much about it (IMHO).


I essentially was doing this on my own when I had a Galaxy. Battery started dying faster so I would leave the battery saver mode on.

Apple is good about doing things so the user doesn’t have to think about it. The media just ran with that shit and made it out to be way worse than it was.


The issue wasn't that the battery only lasted 3 hours instead of 5. A degraded battery literally couldn't provide a high enough voltage to keep the CPU running, so the phone crashed. Apple covered this up by always throttling the CPU.


Apple does not "always throttle the CPU". Battery performance management only kicks in when the battery starts to get low. A fully charged iPhone battery, even an old one, can supply sufficient voltage for max performance. Peak voltage falls off only as the charge is depleted.


What do you want them to do, make the device unusable?

Look they could have been more transparent about it and gave the user a heads up but I see it as a super reasonable response. I think people would rather have a phone that's slower than one that crashes at 29% battery.


No, I expect Apple to provide a large enough battery to ensure the device is still usable after a year.

This was a design flaw. Before the throttling update, there were ~1 year old iPhones that would reboot anytime you took a photo or opened a large app if the battery was below 90% charged.

Now I get why Apple did it, a recall would have been far more expensive, but nobody should be surprised by the media shitstorm and lawsuits that followed.


Thats a very cynical perspective. There's two ways to look at this:

(A) Apple's terrible because they should have released the device with a "better" battery. One that's not "defective". One that could allow the CPU to run at full-throttle all the time for the usable life of the device. They slowed the device secretly to match the capabilities of the battery because they're trying to cover up a manufacturing defect, and they dont want to foot the bill for repairing everyone's phones.

(B) Apple was trying to get the most performance possible out of the physical capabilities of the battery. Unfortunately, it turned out that as the battery aged, due to physical changes, the battery couldn't keep up with the demands of the CPU running as fast as they thought it could over time. To prevent devices from shutting down and forcing users to replace the battery/phone earlier, they scaled CPU performance with battery age and therefore capabilities. Because batteries are consumable and their performance characteristics change over time. This means that the phone always give you just as much performance as physically possible at any given age.

IMO (B) is way, way more likely than (A).


The ~60 lawsuits [1] filed over this point to (A) in my opinion.

If this was normal behavior, we would see similar throttling on previous iPhones, Android's and laptops.

[1] https://www.macrumors.com/2018/02/26/iphone-slowdown-class-a...


We constantly hear about phones that die before reaching 0%, or losing the last 20% very fast. Google Nexus 6P comes to mind.

I'm fairly confident that what apple did was the most logical thing. They should have been more informative about it, but it's better than a phone dying at 20%.


I’ve had many Android phones that experience unexpected shutdowns when their Li-Ion battery degrades.

This is a limitation of Li-Ion battery technology. It has nothing to do with OS or phone manufacturering like you keep trying to imply.

This isn’t really up for debate.

What is up for debate is how a manufacturer should handle this limitation and communicate it to customers.


Filed in the US (a heavily litigious society) against what was recently the worlds largest company (so right or wrong if they lose they can definitely pay)? I'm shocked that they found only 60 groups who could be both cynical and litigious :P Put yourself in their shoes.


There's no Li-Ion battery currently available that is immune from this problem.

Your expectation is entirely unrealistic and emotional. This has nothing to do with the size of the battery.


I always find it amazing how many ‘technical’ people have a warped view of reality and it’s physical limitations.

I guess the take away here is that for the X13, they should just clock it way down from the start and just maximise battery life. Which is not a bad idea.


> What do you want them to do, make the device unusable?

I want them to say (as you do mention) 'hey, your device has been slowed down because your battery is old. Get it replaced to restore full performance'.

I'd absolutely rather have a slow phone than one that arbitrarily dies at 29%, if and only if I'm given this heads up. At least with one that crashes at 29% battery, I might suspect the battery is dying and get it replaced. The average user has no reason to think that an old battery will slow their phone down, and just ends up with a super-frustrating user experience.


Apple is good about doing things so the user doesn’t have to think about it

There's a fine line between that approach and the approach of actively disregarding the user's need to control their own device. Apple too often falls on the latter side of the line, and "Batterygate" was a prime example. I certainly appreciate it when I don't have to think about something, but when I eventually do have to think about it, I need to be able to do something about it.

I do give them some credit for fixing the issue by making the phone work the way it should have all along.


I don’t mind the lack of knobs as much as I mind the lack of a notification. If Apple throttles my cpu because my battery is degraded I expect that of Apple. What I don’t expect is them doing so without telling me because I can fix the issue by replacing the battery. Since most people would understandably assume a performance degradation over time was software updates they stood to profit from this omission. That looks bad and that’s why they replaced batteries.


iPhone already has Battery-saver mode feature which kicks in at 20% battery. Involuntary CPU throttling feature & voluntary battery-saver feature, is wrong comparison.

I'd have preferred to prevent the CPU throttle by replacing battery within the phone warranty period than having to know it(cpu throttling) afterwards, when my phone was already out of warranty.


>The root issue is that batteries degrade over time, for everyone, not just apple. iPhone’s did a good job hiding that away by degrading performance along with it.

Apple sacrificed battery capacity for size and weight. They built several generations of phone that had just barely enough capacity for a full day of use and could just barely deliver enough current for peak performance. Unlike their Android rivals, they failed to over-provision the battery to account for degradation over time.

The Xiaomi Mi 6 had a 3300mAh battery. The Samsung Galaxy S8 had a 3000mAh battery. The Huawei Mate 9 had a 4000mAh battery. The iPhone 8 has an 1800mAh battery. See the problem?


Isn't the iPhone more power-efficient than many Android counterparts? That would explain why they can afford a smaller battery (but may not explain all the gap).


Yeah: those first few phones are really inefficient.


No, since they actually last for at least twice as long as iPhones.


So about 3 days of solid use on a single charge? I'm surprised, I've never heard any reviewers say anything about a phone that lasts that long.


> The root issue is that batteries degrade over time, for everyone, not just apple.

What? No.

First of all, battery degradation is a design parameter. You can easily verify from apple own pages that iPads are rated for twice the charging cycles of iPhones. Apple intentionally included a low rated battery to limit the product life.

> iPhone’s did a good job hiding that away by degrading performance along with it.

And no.

Apple did an awful job, lets not forget the phone where crashing before apple introduced massive throttling killing the device performances. Neither of which sounds like a "good job".

Here's what a good job would have looked like (since apple sells top of the line devices at peak pricing): from the processor minimum voltage and battery degradation metrics figure out a voltage margin that would satisfy the processor constraints after one or even better two years of degradation.

Or, second best, start of with a throttled processor to begin with, but that would have ruined marketing precious "x times faster than previous generation", so they decided to do the shady thing: selling something as fast and killing it's performance six month after purchase.

And of all this what amuse me most is people defending it.


> iPhone’s did a good job hiding that away

The iPhone 6 became practically unusable due to throttling. They were not hiding the issue effectively. But they didn't tell people that the issue was the battery. Affected users complained on forums, and tried all kinds of things like factory resets and uninstalling certain apps but couldn't find out why there phone was unusably slow. And Apple support didn't help either. They just suggested to install the latest update.

Only after Batterygate became public did people find out that they needed to swap the battery to fix their phone. I bet a lot of people threw away their phones becUse they didn't know. (why bother replacing the battery when your phone has become unusably slow?)


I never really understood the narrative of the "Batterygate"...

I absolutely agree, Apple should have alerted the user when the throttling was enabled (and given the user a choice) from the day this feature was implemented.

However, I actually prefer my phone being slower and usable rather than fast but randomly shutting down. But somehow this does not seem the general consensus?


In general, Li-On batteries don't degrade like this; only design flaws could lead to this kind of behavior.


But Apple uses smaller batteries and much more powerful processors, so the effects are noticeable much sooner than with other phones.


Apple’s processors are significantly more energy-efficient than their counterparts’. They might be “more powerful” but are also competitive in terms of battery life.


Serious question, is it not possible to simply recalibrate the "battery remaining" readout to match the battery's reduced capacity? I feel like it shouldn't take many cycles of the phone suddenly shutting down at 10% for the system to realize that 10% is the new 1%.


The issue wasn't lowered overall capacity but lowered peak performance. During basic usage when the CPU is mostly idle (reading email and whatnot) the peak current draw was fine and the battery could handle it. But if the CPU suddenly peaks to full usage (load a heavy web page), the battery can't deliver the instant amount of current and the phone browns-out and shuts off.

Temperature also effects the performance of the battery so if you're out in the snow it could handle less than being indoors in the heat.

That's why the CPU throttling worked. It kept the CPU from pulling too much power in one instant, and then the battery lasted fine all they way down to 1%


These specific batteries were terrible, I had one replaced and the replacement went to unusable in a year. Apple stance is that that is normal. Unfortunately the law does not provide for warranties for parts that are replaced for free.


I bought the $30 battery replacement because they stopped making small phones. My preferred plan would have been to spend ~$700 on an updated SE.

Similar story on the Mac side.


I would also spend a similar amount on an upgraded SE.

Current phone lineup (not just Apple) sucks IMO. An untouched SE with latest radio and faster CPU would be worth the upgrade for me.


Just adding my voice to the crowd of people willing to seriously shell out for an updated SE. I have a tablet and a laptop, what I want out of my phone is portability and phone, in a one-handed form factor. For now I just replaced the SE battery and I’m waiting for trends to shift again.


I still CANNOT believe the amount of people that want these gigantic ass phones. How are we in the minority for wanting a phone that fits in one hand??


In my own friends and family circle, they want the larger phones because it has become their sole personal computing device. The calling function is not the primary use anymore.


small phone + laptop/desktop is becoming the tech equivalent of owning a 4x4 truck and a small compact. consumers on a budget just want to own a crossover.


I’d actually like iOS to have a toggle to disable phone calls without disabling 4G.

(Owner of a huge phone, but not as primary computer)


Because a phone that fits in one hand has less screen real estate, which converts to either poor resolution or a ton of squinting?

I’m a huge fan of the Xs Max. The near-bezelless display gives you maximum screen size in a relatively slim form factor. Watching videos on this thing is just amazing tbh.

iPhone and Android sales numbers have proven time and again that the vast majority of people want a larger screen. Your best bet is probably the compact Sony Xperia Z series.


Right, and people are replacing tablets and the browse-read-shop functionality of laptops with highly functional phones.


I’m in the same boat and would rather have a small phone. Using 6 plus right now and holding phone against hip sitting down just to type with one hand. Far from ideal.


All my phones fit in one hand - and yet I haven't used a phone smaller than 5" in many years now.

Maybe 4" is just too small for most, even for one-handed use?


Having seen plenty of grown women using two hands to type on an iPhone 4s when those things were popular, I'd say we need accurate population data to truly confirm.


Because we largely don't carry multiple digital devices around and can work off the phone a lot of the time. I don't use any tablets and don't carry my laptop to meetings since OneNote on mobile works perfectly well. When I do need to do serious work, I use a souped up large screen high RAM, SSD i7 laptop.


I can comfortably type with one hand on my OnePlus 6 (6 inch phone). I use it to browse when and I'm out and about, so the extra real screen estate is very valuable.


My hobby: inserting hyphens for effect.

> gigantic ass-phones.


For those of us who have Gigantic Ass Hands.


You mean the ones who are not buying the XR or the XS Max?


was so hoping for xr to be smaller. i mean prob wouldnt have switched anyway without my headphone wire antenna enabled built-in FM radio in moto phone, but was thinking about it.


I recently purchased a nearly new condition 128GB SE and it feels performant with iOS 12.


I’d buy several. It was the most best way to give family members an affordable way to be part of Apple’s ecosystem and now I’m weighing Apple’s pricing vs disappointing them with an Android device when it’s time to upgrade.


likewise, replaced my SE battery before Dec 31st. Would shell out money for an all screen OLED SE size iPhone with the latest silicon.


Maybe a crowd-sourced replacement board, like the neo900 project?


I'd pay $1000 for an XS Mini should they ever decide to make one. Until then, I'm sticking with my SE, which is the best iPhone they've ever made regardless of price.


I would pay double to have an iPhone 4 size phone.


I'd pay double to have the iPhone 3GS curved back that actually felt comfortable to hold.


I got my 4 out the other day because I was having the $29 battery replacement done in my SE. The 4 feels a little heavy, but the size is juuuust right. I would gladly pay the same. Hopefully with a headphone jack.


Purely anecdotal, but how are you comfortable with the real estate the screen offers? I understand it feels amazing in your hand, but it wasn't until I actually picked up a working iPhone 4 that I realized I could read maybe only two message responses from a person I would be having a conversation with.

I'd imagine if they reduced the bezels on the size of the 6 product line, you'd really find the best of both worlds. Both small in the hand, but also enough space to get more screen real estate out of your applications.


For that kind of reading my iPad is right here in my bag. For quickly sending messages, playing music or arguing with Siri, the iPhone 4 or 5 were much easier to hold or pocket.


The best phone you can fit in an iPhone 4-sized package isn’t signicantly better than an iPhone 4.


Apart from a better screen, faster processor, T2 and A-series chips with far better graphics performance, Touch ID, inductive charging … what have the Romans ever done for us?


You sure you can fit all that in an iPhone 4 case? And if so, in 2019, can you make a significantly better phone in an iPhone 6 case than an iPhone 6?


The iPhone 4 is significantly thicker than the later models, somthere’s plenty of space for a battery. The backlight of the screen is a large power consumer too so smaller screen means less energy used for backlight, more energy available for power hungry extras.


Where do you put the battery for all that? The higher resolution screens and faster CPUs all are power hungry as hell.


The iPhone 4 has less real estate, so far fewer pixels, so less graphics processing required. Also less energy required for the same brightness. Also the case doesn’t have to be proportionally thicker, so the extra thickness is entirely for battery.

I’d be surprised if an iPhone 4 based on new power-sipping technology wasn’t within a few percent of the web browsing/movie watching time of the iPhone 8 or similar.


There obviously are trade offs, but personally I would forego nicer screens, cameras, CPUs, and slimness to have a smaller phone. Obviously, Apple is betting that this isn't a sufficiently profitable market, but one can dream.

An iPhone XS phone doesn't even fit into most women's pockets. It'll be funny if pockets get bigger to accommodate phones.


I’m the same. We must be a small niche if no competitors are bothering to cater towards us.


Hard to imagine many Apple people lined up for that opening day: "Here's an iPhone-4-shaped thing running Android!"

Even if they nailed the form factor, how many people are really willing to switch? You see some people swearing off a brand (on the internet, anyway) when something egregious happens but there's definitely inertia that keeps most people firmly in one ecosystem or the other.


The lock-in is real, especially when you’re younger and more vulnerable to peer pressure. I doubt my kids would appreciate being the cause of a downgrade from an iMessage group to MMS.


For me the lock-in is not iMsg, hell I don't even use it - no one uses it in my circle, it's the knowledge that Google is not getting to track my every shift, every breathe, every shake, every jump etc etc.

It's sad I will have to move back to Android within a year (I can neither buy big iPhones nor spend those amounts the way the new ones are priced). I wish there were fully functional privacy focussed ROMs that was shipped by Android OEMs.


> I wish there were fully functional privacy focussed ROMs that was shipped by Android OEMs.

I'm sure everyone on this discussion board knows why this will never be the case, unfortunately.

With that said, are there any regularly-updated aftermarket ROMs that are privacy-focused? I've had a rough look at LineageOS[1] - a continuation of CyanogenMod - and it seems to mostly fit the bill.

I'm aware of CopperheadOS, but they had a "touch" of infighting about half a year ago[2] and mostly dissolved.

I too am moving away from Apple products, for the same reason. They are reaching expense levels (especially in my country) that I simply can't justify when I can get a HP or Lenovo business-grade laptop with drastically better hardware specifications and install simply OpenSUSE on it. Without going all-in on the Apple ecosystem to fully reap the rewards, it's simply not worth it for me to use any of them.

1. https://lineageos.org/

2. https://www.reddit.com/r/copperheados


Sonys Xperia Compact models are a good option if you want a high specced phone that fits in one hand.


+1 for an update to SE... really hoping they’ll release one this year


The SE was my question too—and I just bought a new one in Q4 after breaking my old one. Is it not the case that the average hand in China is smaller than the average hand in the US? I'm surprised they didn't mention this at all. Do they have data finding that reluctance to upgrade to a bigger phone was not a factor in reluctance to upgrade?

Does Apple report enough data for us to attempt to make correlations between average height (as a proxy for hand size) per country and purchasing decisions?


Same. Went in the last day of 2018 and got the battery replaced on my SE even though it was only at 88%. Hoping it lasts for long enough that design trends change and apple issues another SE or even an original iPhone sized phone.


I was one of the people with. 6S that replaced the battery at $29 recently. I can honestly say I did it because the battery life was getting worse but would have paid the normal price instead of get an XS. It’s just not that compelling over the 6S. Also, they keep making the phones bigger. No thanks.


Same here in every regard, except I did upgrade to the XS solely for the ability to have two phone lines. I still use the 6S as an at-work iPod. After a month as a light phone user, here are the changes I particularly notice:

—more attractive screen

—faster

—much better camera, which is not a big thing for me, but always nice to have

—size in pocket is fine, but the size is annoying for on-screen reachability

—FaceID is better than TouchID in two particular ways: in-app authentications and unlocking the phone with wet fingers (which is common because of my work)

—the swipe down for Control Center is far less convenient on the XS because there's a much smaller target area for beginning the gesture

—the XS can't by default show the battery percentage, and for long-term device life I preserve my battery (I always run in low-power mode, even), so this is information I like visible at a glance

There's no doubt the XS is a more capable device than the 6S, but for how I use a smartphone the gains are not particularly beneficial. Maybe after I add the second phone line to increase the telecommunications divide between myself and my business I'll appreciate the XS more, but for now I am regularly reminded how much I enjoy the 6S when I pick it up to use it as an iPod.


So this is not the first battergarte-like issue for apple. I've had my battery replaced when it was below spec twice. Once when it failed their diagnosis test, and another time when I had the "swollen" battery causing the screen to separate from the case.

However, when my MBP literally caught fire in my bed while I was asleep and melted the keyboard, apple refused to fix it as the warranty was two weeks out and they claimed that the "liquid sensors had been triggered at some point in the past - and while apple recognizes that the machine catching fire was a safety issue - they didnt find reason to justify fixing the machine. You can purchase a new MBP for $1,299 - or we can replace all the guts of your machine for $1,500"

Bullshit.


I decided to take advantage of the offer for my SE at the end of the year, instead of replacing the battery they gave me a brand new SE for free. Apparently it shut down unexpectedly at some point in the past, there was literally nothing else wrong with it so I can only imagine they were so overworked replacing batteries that it was easier to just give me one of the discontinued phones?

So this means that 12 months ago I bought a 32GB SE for 100 pounds, sold my 16GB model for 95 pounds (SE prices seem to bottom out around there) and got a brand new model a year later for free. At an overall cost of five pounds I've gotten a phone (well, two phones) that's hopefully gonna last me a total of 3 years. Beyond the inconvenience of catering for a 320px wide phone in the app store, it's not hard to see why Apple felt the need to kill it.


> The root issue is not addressed

No manufacturer gives free battery replacements to 3 year old, out of warranty phones.

And even if they did the issue would still be wide spread because most people wouldn't necessarily come in to have it replaced.


Anecdotal, but I am not a heavy phone user at all. Within a year of purchasing my brand new iPhone SE, the battery capacity dropped from 100% to 82%, causing it to begin to lag considerably doing even basic tasks and shut down randomly two or three times a week. This should not happen to a product that's only a year old.


That sounds like you have defective hardware. You're right in that you shouldn't experience significant battery degradation within a year. But beyond that, 82% battery capacity should not result in significant lag and really should not result in randomly shutting down two or three times a week.

If you had brought your phone in to an Apple Store during that first year I'm sure they would have replaced it for you under warranty.


Agreed, I have 2 year old SE that's at 88% with everyday use.


My SE is slightly over a year old and I'm already at 90%. Not happy. Though unless Apple comes out with something similar, I will replace the battery at full cost before I replace the device.


Other manufacturers don't go after repair shops aggressively, either.


They wouldn't exist if Apple was actually aggressive.

Repair shops have simply been victims of Apple's aggressive approach to security.


If you're repairing a Samsung phone, you can log in and order a part. The price list is at https://www.samsung.com/au/support/screen-replacements/, for example.

Meanwhile, Apple does something like https://boingboing.net/2018/10/20/louis-rossman.html


Did you even read the article you posted ?

Customs seized it. Not Apple.


Did you?

> Apple is working with the government

And from the source article

>[Apple] will not allow me to replace batteries, because when I import batteries that are original they’ll tell me the they’re counterfeit and have them stolen from by [CBP].


There is no evidence from the article that Apple is working with Customs to block the imports of batteries or any other parts.

Customs in general prevents the importation of counterfeit goods. Which they determine by whether that item has a logo and if it came from a legitimate source.


Samsung Australia does not sell batteries though, you have to replace it using their support center.


Interesting, I know someone in that line of work. They've never had a problem with apples aggressive security measures. Phone is repaired and shipped out.


There was an issue in the past with the Secure Enclave and the verification between it and the TouchID sensor. Third parties who replaced the sensor didn't have the ability to reset the pairing and even if you did there was the infamous Error 53 problem.

All solved now and third party repairers can do most things.


The 6/6S were plagued with defective batteries, so phones under their 1 year warranty were affected. Only some phones manufactured during specific dates were covered by a free replacement; my phone was one of those.

Furthermore, the root issue could have been addressed not just by offering free replacements (They weren't), instead of slowing down phones and having customers believe their devices were obsolete much earlier than anticipated, they could have been transparent about the issue like they are now.

Instead, I ended up with 1 free battery replacement, and 1 heavily subsidized replacement, which certainly factored into my delayed upgrade cycle. Apple experienced this enough to warn their investors about it in this letter.


You're conflating two seperate issues here.

The point I am making is that NO manufacturer replaces naturally degraded batteries for free. Defective sure. And not just phone manufacturers but I haven't heard of any manufacturer doing that. Batteries are a consumable item.

I do agree however that Apple should have been upfront about their measures they were taking to mitigate battery degradation.


Correct and perhaps I could have been more clear, but as far as a consumer is concerned Apple did conflate the two issues.

Apple initially refused to replace my battery because they're consumable, even though they later admitted that some batteries were defective. They replaced some batteries for free [1], everyone else got an iOS 10.2.1 update with silent throttling [2]. Note that Apple did not admit to defective batteries until late 2016, and then announced an update with silent throttling in early 2017.

I am not implying that Apple should replace everyone's batteries for free, I am however under the impression that they attempted to keep warranty costs low by denying for as long as they could, and quickly following up with an update that hides the symptoms.

[1] https://www.apple.com/support/iphone6s-unexpectedshutdown/ [2] https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/23/apple-says-ios-10-2-1-has-...


I think the big question is is this an issue for Apple alone?

They explicitly write about a sharp turndown in China.

The guidances drops from 89-93 to 84 (about 8%). From what they are writing that all can be accounted for by the drop of revenue in China. Since China accounts for around 1/5 of Apple's revenue - the drop must have been around 40%-50%.

Which is a lot for a single quarter.

Also notice the reaction in the forex market. That certainly indicates that this is a broader issue.


It's a broader issue but Apple is more exposed to it, because [large percentage] of recent growth has been in China.

In the bigger picture Trump has decided that a trade war with China is a good idea, so of course there are going to be unpleasant consequences.

Cook's reign has been rather miserly - pay more for less. It's been an effective short-term strategy for investor returns, but it hasn't created a solid foundation for future expansion, and has also given users very little to be proud of.

Where does Apple want to be five years from now? iPhone XIIIS? MacBook Hydrogen? Mac Pro Gold Professional Edition? There's only so far you can push that boat before the lustre fades.


I think there is still room for expansion ... in principle at least.

Apple market share can still grow in established markets (what percentage of laptops are macs, what percentage of phones are ios).

Emerging markets; China, India, Africa can still grow for Apple.

And then of course they can innovate; find new product categories, services ...


> Emerging markets; China, India, Africa can still grow for Apple.

Indian market for Apple has been shrinking because of the ridiculous prices for Apple charges in India. Samsung, One Plus and others now dominate there.


> In the bigger picture Trump has decided that a trade war with China is a good idea, so of course there are going to be unpleasant consequences.

There is also a massive slowdown of the Chinese economy that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the trade war.

https://theweek.com/speedreads/815565/data-reportedly-signal...


Is subsidizes the correct word? Let along "Heavily" ?

You could get the exact same Apple Battery from China for about $7 including shipping. I would bet Apple have them for less than $5. Even at a reduced cost of $29, there is still $25 margin for Apple. Even if you subtract the operational cost involves, I doubt Apple ever subsidizes.


My understanding is the $29 is very much at- or below-cost. The all in cost is just not that cheap for anything involving a service that has labor, a warranty, etc. Not only is labor expensive, there's a chance that the customer's phone will be damaged in some way which they'd be on the hook to replace it, and it still costs money to ship to/from depot, operate the store where customers can drop it off, etc. Part cost /= total cost.

Also, a $7 battery from China is a gamble especially for something heavily used and physically next to your body a lot of the time. I'm sure you'd get a battery that had the same physical size and stated spec, but I'd be skeptical it'd have gone through the same QC. You could get one from a bum batch, or a relabeled one operating out of spec. You just don't know.


The Apple Store, Repairing Technician are all part of Apple ( As I stated Operational Cost ) whether they were doing the battery replacement programme or not. They just have more works to do. And it is a ~10 mins job following Apple standard procedure, less than 5 min if you don't.

Not to mention Apple outsource a lot of these Battery replacement programme to Registered Third Parties.

A better Spec battery cost less than $7 from LG Chem. BOM cost on battery are not expensive at all, and it is not a secret.


>The Apple Store, Repairing Technician are all part of Apple

>Apple outsource a lot of these Battery replacement programme to Registered Third Parties

Congratulations, you played yourself.


Which doesn't cost them as much and are part of the services agreement?

Just in case you did't know.


The wholesell price is a little above $2(18 chinese yuan).


Apple heavily subsidizes battery replacements for everyone

I think the lesson should be to have your battery replacement prices be reasonable to start with and avoid inflating the market for your devices artificially.


$69 is pretty reasonable to me. The problem isn't that the battery replacement cost was too high, it's that Apple didn't clearly communicate that the problem was a battery issue in the first place. The phones just slowed down without telling you why. The cost subsidies were just a PR move to atone for that.


If I could buy the official or know quality battery part for $25, I'd do it myself.



I believe they're ~$20 on Aliexpress?


They said ‘quality’.


Would you really stick a $20 AliExpress lithium battery in your phone?


I bet even at 29$ Apple is making money on this replacement program. If I can buy an iPhone 7 battery for $15 shipped Apple probably pays <$10 each when buying them by the tens of thousands, even for higher quality units. Then add 10 minutes of replacement labor.


You forgot logistics. It costs a lot of money to store and distribute volatile objects.


Just a point on this, in the two UK apple stores I went into recently, they were literally crammed with people getting replacement batteries. At least three people’s battery change didn’t work (including the screen repair I was getting done due to a white spot on the display) and they handed over brand new iPhones to those people. This has a significant cost to it which multiplies the original problem somewhat!

It’s extremely obvious they weren’t ready for this quantity of repairs.


We're all better off if less phones were produced and consumed. The investors may complain, but our planet will certainly be happier.


Exactly like my story. My battery life sucked and I had put off replacing it until two months ago, knowing that I would do that instead of buying a new phone.

I'd rather use an external battery pack than change from my 6S.


If they hadn't been chasing thinness so aggressively they could have avoided some of the negative side effects of battery degradation by just increasing capacity.


For me it went:

iPhone 5c was a cheap and performant phone with a good ecosystem.

Apple made everything worse through updates, bloat, and price increases.

My phone became so impossibly slow that I bought the cheapest but also nicest walmart phone I could on a whim (LG Zone4).

It's been so amazingly performant for just $100 that I would never, ever consider buying an expensive phone again, ESPECIALLY not one from Apple!!


iPhone 5C is more than 5 years old at this point. Let's hear about your LG Zone4 experience in 5 years.


I mean, I totally agree. The iphone 5c on day one in my hand in 2014 was better than it was in 2018.

And that's not because of the battery, that's just because of the software updates. Like, the CPU didn't lose any MHz along the way.

If Android doesn't follow the same path then I will be good-- if they do, then onto the next idea!


> And that's not because of the battery, that's just because of the software updates. Like, the CPU didn't lose any MHz along the way.

The software changed its requirements. Within reasonable limits that's just the nature of technological advancement and availability of faster hardware. I don't know if the performance degradation of iOS 11 and 10 were reasonable, but judging by user feedback Apple seems to have increased performance with iOS 12, particularly for older devices. Of course that comes too late for the iPhone 5C, which isn't supported anymore.


Thank you for your response!! I actually didn't know that 5c didn't receive iOS 12. If iOS 11 was the last OS I was using before I left Apple, then it was definitely a problem. Even after switching out the battery, the camera took 15 seconds to open and web pages would freeze upon loading. I tested them side by side on my gigabit wifi even!

I don't want to hate on Apple. I have no allegiances to anyone in particular. I just am a cheapo user that values basic functionality, some speed, some longevity.

I don't put a premium on privacy or animojis or nice cameras or huge amounts of storage :)


If Apple had let users downgrade back to iOS 10 for slower/older devices, I'd say a lot of the negative press would have been averted.


You are comparing a 5 year old phone with a brand new one.

And phones are not like cars, even in the post Moore’s Law world, silicone improves quite a bit.


There isn't a "root issue". People have gone over this ad infinitum. The "root issue" is iPhone batteries like most cell phone batteries do not last more than several hundred recharge cycles and especially when under high load the power will be insufficient to maintain full phone performance without the phone suddenly shutting off. On Android your phone simply shuts off on high load on old batteries. Apple gracefully fails rather than hard crashes. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Apple gave out free upgrades because people perceived it as if Apple had done something wrong so out of good will they gave free upgrades. Current phones will do the exact same thing given time.


Do you remember when when phones had replaceable batteries? If you noticed your battery would not last as long as it used to, you could just buy a new one and change it yourself, no tools or action by the manufacturer required.


Plenty of Android phones still do it.


Yeah, not sure why this is such a hard concept for some people. I just replaced my two year old Pixel's battery as it started crashing at around 35% (as high as 50% with the camera on) and I'm not a heavy user at all.


Nobody is asking Apple to defy chemistry. Problem is iPhone bidding the fact. When your phone crashed at 35% and started working fine on charging you knew it was a battery problem because that's how all phones and batteries had been behaving since 3310.

Now someone at Apple thought instead of shutting the phone why not slow it down so that user can still make that urgent call. That's brilliant and all phones should emulate it. Apple's bad is the did it silently so user didn't know it was a battery problem, the blamed os updates, hardware, weather but not the battery, because degraded batteries never slowed down any phone including iPhone till now. So instead of getting battery replaced they bought a new phone which as a 'side-effect' was beneficial for Apple.

Now once people figured it out they were outraged, so as a PR measure Apple gave discounted battery replacement and once people did that phone was good enough again so delayed new phone purchase. Now as karma striking, all this news and discounted battery may have nudged users who otherwise chuck their phone every two years to get the battery replaced and the fact new device is costing 1000 fucking usd, some delayed for another year.


You'll need to cite cite evidence for the Android claim.


> On Android your phone simply shuts off on high load on old batteries

Except, no, it doesn't.


Anecdata: Happened to me with my last two phones, Nexus 6P and Pixel XL.

Unethical LPT: Always buy the extended 'protection plan' since this problem happens so reliably around the two year mark. Call complaining that your phone crashes when it's low on battery and get a new phone for like $100. Cheapest way to get 4-5 years out of a single phone purchase.

And since it's been two years since you bought the device they'll almost always give you a better phone as a replacement.


In Apple land all you’re getting is a battery replacement. Definitely no upgrades either. Not worth $100, as aftermarket battery replacements are cheaper, and you’re out of warranty anyway..


Yes, it can happen. Had phones that did that reliably.


Usually a sudden reboot rather than a shutdown. It happens.


I have 10+ old phones from various manufacturers with various battery qualities. None have issues when used as a daily


Or people simply aren’t buying new iPhones because the price has pretty much doubled in the last 2 years (while functionality/performance improvements are less noticeable than ever to the average user)


There’s at least a little bit of ambiguity about what that line means: https://twitter.com/macjournals/status/1080615532930289665?s.... I don’t know which way to read it, now.


I think it's unambiguously about revenue as the paragraph it's in is all about the factors affecting revenue and the containing sentence specifically says it's enumerating factors affecting the divisions performance which would never be measured in units in the context of a post on revenue.


I don’t follow your logic. If Apple had handled the battery behavior as it does now, their iPhone sales would have been that much lower for many more years going back, as people would have opted for battery replacements over new phones.


or worse, battery replacement were unavailable in Japan. Even though it's on the Japanese site, at the start of November I tried to schudule an appointment for replacement. It would tell me no appointments available within the next week. same for various stores around Tokyo. I set an alarm to check every night just after midnight. Same thing every night. It's easy to believe either it was impossible to make the appointment or the number of actual appointments available was very small basically letting them claim to giving cheap replacements but in reality offer very few


This seems to be a worldwide problem with the Genius Bar reservation systems; happens to me all the time, even for "I just need someone to run a hardware test on this" appointments.


I got mine replaced under the replacement program with no problems, at the Omotesandō store.


I think they meant as people “redeemed” but they used the poorly-chosen phrase “took advantage”.

Because Apple shouldn’t offer something they don’t want people to use that phrase being very poorly chosen.


IMO Tim Cook did a good-enough analysis but deliberately omitted the rather insane prices of the XS and XS Max phones. Just look at the prices of the 256GB storage models.

My wife's brother has a 6S Plus. My mother has 7. They work amazingly well and fast. To them X / XS / XS Max are basically "spend 1300 EUR to get a bezel-less phone and nothing else"... and in a way, they are correct. Many people don't care about FaceID or OLED screens.

Smartphone market is nearly saturated. It's time for more realistic pricing. And I am saying this is a loyal Apple user.


I have a 7. I’m a typical dream-customer for Apple and my carrier in that I upgrade every 24months (Hand phone to a family member and get a new one).

I don’t care about new features such as Face ID. I do look with envy at the X camera though.

My next phone might be another 7 unless Apple drastically cuts prices or introduces an iPhone 9 with the X camera.

There is no justification for adding 50-100% to the monthly cost of a smartphone in 2019 when it’s the first time I don’t really need a faster phone!

Apple obviously realize that if they had a reasonably priced phone it would eat all their XR/XS sales, but the product strategy just looks like it risks losing customers to Huawei/Samsung.


Their revenue for those models were in line with expectations, so there was no reason for him to spend time on the issues that may be effecting that revenue.


That's a bit like the chicken and the egg problem though: did they project the iPhone sales correctly because they were aware of the high price? And couldn't they have reduced it a bit and project bigger sales numbers?


I think the point they wanted to get across was that they're seeing compelling evidence that China's economy is slowing dramatically. They mentioned the other things to establish that the revenue miss was not a mistake in modeling other factors. It's evidence for the broader point.


> Smartphone market is nearly saturated. It's time for more realistic pricing.

Just before Christmas I bought an iPhone 6S for $99 from AT&T. That’s a very realistic price for a very nice phone!

Fine print: I had to pay $145 plus tax but $45 is credited to me for monthly charges. The phone is locked to AT&T for 3 months. After Christmas the price has gone back to $199.


That the 6S is going to be outside of software support window (1-2 years) and/or clearing stock might be factors.

But I could have been clearer: I meant the newest models.


As an AAPL investor, I want Apple to raise prices for their top-of—the-line phones, otherwise the cheaper phones (like the one I purchased) will lower the average selling price. Of course people are not going to pay higher prices without getting something substantial in return. This is where Apple is lacking at the moment. The pace of innovation in both hardware and software has slowed down. There is plenty of room for improvement.

EDIT

Take a look at this video from Microsoft where they show how hover and squeeze gestures can dramatically improve the phone experience: https://www.theverge.com/2016/5/5/11595564/microsoft-3d-touc... This shows there is plenty of room for innovation, Apple just isn't innovating fast enough.


There is a maximum amount of money people are ready to part with for status / stronger hardware / bigger screen / better screen / more storage / integrated experience / ecosystem / something else. And I believe Apple did hit that maximum back in November 2017. I spent 1400 EUR for my X as an early adopter so as not to wait 1-2 more months for sufficient stock in my country -- and gave the exact sum for my wife's X at the same day, so make those 2800 EUR in total -- about 13 months ago and it really tested my patience even though I am quite ready to invest solid money in good and reliable long-term tech (which mostly describes Apple's; I am also heavily eyeing the maxed out iMac Pro which sits at 14_000 EUR).

I agree Apple -- and everybody else -- does little to no innovation in the smartphone sector but I don't feel that's the only factor. At certain point prices are so high that people refuse to buy and then do post-hoc rationalization. My wife's brother loves the idea of a bezel-less phone but he is not in a situation to spend the ~1000 EUR on an iPhone X or ~1500 EUR on an XS Max so he just said "screw that, it's not worth it". It seems that many others are doing the same.

I don't necessarily disagree with you -- just adding that IMO there's a maximum price you should not test your loyal buyers with no matter how much can you sweeten the deal otherwise.


€1400 is way beyond what I would even consider spending on a phone.

It’s so utterly insane that I just cannot imagine how people justify buying one to themselves.


I spend many hours a day using my phone. More than I use my personal laptop, really (which was a lot more than EUR1400). Not quite as much as I use my work laptop, I suppose (c'est la vie because I like to eat and that requires money.)

Consider it like buying an expensive bed and mattress because you use them an awful lot (20-30% of your life, pretty much, for most people.)


Eh it's not about how often you use something, it's about the added value of a 1400 Euro phone over e.g. an iPhone 8. You can still use an 8 often. I think it's more of a status symbol thing for most people (though they would not admit this).


> Eh it's not about how often you use something,

It kinda is, though. If I spent a huge amount on something and never used it, that would be a status symbol thing.

> the added value of a 1400 Euro phone over e.g. an iPhone 8

That's implying there's no difference worth the additional cost. The X has a better, bigger display than the 8; better camera(s); better battery; all things which are extremely relevant to my daily use.


Status symbol smartphones are a fact of life for many. Just 3 days ago I've seen a drunk girl boasting her brand new Note 9 in a company. In her excitement and joy she dropped it and shattered the screen. Then started crying.

But you should not generalize. Many people, me included, made a rational analysis and chose the iPhone for the unqestionable benefits it offers (and for personal philosophy reasons like Apple's stand on privacy).

As usual, it's not about if something is "overpriced". It's about if the device commands enough added value so the customer deems the price fair. MANY people, me included, find the Apple tech expensive. But for the things I am looking for in my mobile and personal computing needs they don't have competition. So we swallow the price and pay up. It's pretty simple.

I feel a lot of people feel the need to express contempt and call many Apple users "iSheep" but they are missing a lot of legitimate factors in the process.


Yes, but most people's phones have broken screens! I don't want to fork out that much money for something that's going to get smashed at some point. This is why I spent that much money on a nice desktop computer, and have a £18 nokia dumbphone. It's rugged and I don't have to worry about it getting dropped, stood on or even care about the remote possibility of damage since I can replace it with another immediately. A high-end phone is something I would worry about getting lost, damaged or stolen.


> Yes, but most people's phones have broken screens!

Which is baffling. A screen protector and case will cost you about GBP20-30 and they work. I closed a taxi door on my iPhone X last year - all that happened was the screen protector broke and there was a dirty scuff on the case.

I've dropped my phones countless times and only once has the screen cracked[1] (and then I didn't have a screen protector on.)

[1] Which was an internal hairline that you couldn't see unless it reflected external light just right. Apple Store said they'd never seen a crack like it and replaced the whole phone immediately without question.


I will always agree that having a disposable device brings a peace of mind.

Unfortunately, my device is needed also for work -- and the ways I am using it are very strictly bound to the smartphone format.

I am not a social networks addict. My device works for me, not I for it. But I still need the bigger screen, the touchscreen and all the apps.


I agree that it's worth paying for quality, but I didn't pay €1400 for my bed. I paid less than $1000 (€881) and am quite happy with it several years later. I agree with the other comments that suggest an upper limit to the amount people are willing to pay for a phone.


The OLED screen is much easier on my eyes. I often read in almost full darkness and that helps a lot as well. Battery life is very good. The device is insanely fast for anything I do (although that's likely true for older models as well). The smaller form factor and bigger display are something you can't understand the appeal of until you experience it.

It's a solid 3-5 years investment especially if you use it a lot -- like I do.


Hover input on touch screens is cool tech but I’ve yet to see an implementation of it where it really added usability. More hidden UI just seems like more difficulty for average users.

More hidden UI in a car seems like the absolute worst place to use such a hardware feature. Drivers should have their eyes on the road, not staring at the screen while they try to get their finger just the right distance to make some UI element pop up.

Edit: the linked Microsoft demo is pretty cool, and could improve mobile devices, but is exactly what I was thinking should not be in a car control surface.


Hover is not necessarily more hidden UI, but could actually go to making bits of phone UI that currently exists more discoverable. A personal gripe of mine is that press-and-hold on a button is a terrible way of discovering something new, you’re never sure if the button is just going to perform its default action (which is something you may not want to do, and without a readily-available “undo” key is kinda dangerous). Hover could go a long way to improving this.


I have no written source to back this up, but based on a conversation I had with an Apple engineer, the first version of the iPhone way back in 2007 could’ve supported hover. Steve Jobs personally nixed the idea as he felt it wasn’t intuitive and thus we are where we are today.


More ways to interact with the phone does not make for an improved user experience.

One success of the iPhone is that regardless of what is happening a user can alway simply press the home button and be back at the home screen. I think one of issues with the new X phones is that the lose this.

My mum / gran can use an iPhone because of this - they never feel intimidated or confused by it. Start to throw in new, undiscoverable interaction gestures and you start to lose this simplicity.


Quite interesting -- that was exactly the reason why I was wondering if I should gift my X to my mother when I decide to buy my next iPhone. And like you I feel it might be confusing.

I miss more physical buttons. The first semi-smartphone devices were perfect. They had 6-10 physical buttons and still plenty of screen. Nowadays everything is gestures. :(

With emerging tech like radar-like detectiong of gestures above the screen I feel this trend will become even worse.


Out of curiosity, what do you consider innovation in software? There's numerous quotes out there across the spectrum about how what Apple is currently doing in software and hardware is unprecedented, even from Microsoft execs.

I suspect people like to throw a lot of airy claims about terms like innovation without understanding what exactly does that even mean vs. what do they actually mean, although we'd need less hand-waviness and more well-stated gripes to be sure.


Innovation would be to finally integrate a high-quality OCR right into your builtin apps. It would be to allow scheduled clearing of 4G traffic numbers at your mobile bill rollout (now I have to manually do it every time I receive an SMS that my megabytes have been reset for the next month). Innovation would be to have your WebView apps and the native Safari browser share the session cookies of the relevant domain -- I am tired of Amazon links not opening in the app but in an embedded WebView (and every app I receive links to products has their own instance).

...Hell, these are not innovations. They are baseline expectations, IMO anyway. Let's not even mention AppStore which is an awful experience overall. I literally type the exact name of an app and AppStore cannot find it! Discoverability is a joke.

I like Apple's ecosystem better for reasons I won't list so as not to make this comment huge. But it's IMO undeniable that Apple has been coasting for a while now.

They should take a few hints from Android, the now dead Windows Mobile, and Sailfish OS.

I don't demand Iron Man level of UI and usability with holographics and intuitive blend of real world and VR interaction. I demand a more modern and smooth experience though. And even on a very strong device like the iPad Pro 10.5" and an iPhone X, many Apple apps still manage to lag and take several seconds to respond.

This is inexcusable.


"isn't innovating fast enough".. How many people are going to go "well, I wasn't planning to upgrade just yet, but look at that gesture! I've got to have one now".

The smartphone as a product has peaked for the moment. Apple's growth will eventually stop as it's tapped out all its markets. It has nothing to do with innovation.


It is coupled. The innovation is dwindling while Apple raises prices. So people will be more reluctant to switch, because 1000 dollars or north is a huge amount of money in any country, not something you could spend in a blink of eyes.

Apple has a lot of opportunities to innovate outside of smartphones though. They can be a luxury version of Nintendo, innovating on the front of HCI, not repeating 'Thinner, Faster and Pricier' recipe every year.


People are already switching slower, and it is not because of the price (at least not in isolation.. the end of subsidized phones with phone plans did create a sticker shock across the board). Phones are now so powerful, especially iphones, that people have been holding onto them longer and longer for many years now. It is in response to that drop in sales that Apple had to raise revenue per sale or face a drop in overall revenues. Of course, they're postponing the inevitable, but in the meantime over the past few years Apple stockholders have benefited, and customers kept paying up.

Apple has a smash-hit already in the Watch, which is an amazing technological achievement and a sales success. But nothing they can do measures up against the explosive growth of smartphones, so all their innovation will be overlooked in any case. If the complaint is that smart watches are too small of a product for Apple (not what I'm saying, but a lot of eggheads out there) then "a luxury version of nintendo" won't sell nearly well enough to matter at all.


Agreed. Even if there are innovations to be made they are either (a) held out deliberately to inflate future prices or (b) are not feasible, materially or financially right now or (c) just don't exist.

But it doesn't help that Apple is trying to compensate for slower sales with higher prices. They are digging themselves deeper that way.


>Many people don't care about FaceID or OLED screens.

The OLED screen is arguably a downgrade because it uses flickering PWM brightness control.


I’m not familiar with this. I have a X and haven’t noticed any flickering of the screen and really love it generally. Can you expand on this?


The OLED display on the X uses pulse-width modulation, which is basically where the OLED panel flickers at different frequencies to adjust its brightness. Most people (like me) don't really notice it, but for some it can cause headaches over prolonged use, and in some extreme cases really bad migraines.


Nit pick. Pulse Width Modulation holds the frequency steady and varies the duty cycle, that is the ratio of on time to off time.

See here for more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulse-width_modulation


Does this mean that the R, G and B values of any pixel is either 0 or 1 at any given instant? And how is it different from FRC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_rate_control


Basically yes. But the frequency used for PWM is usually _way_ higher than what should be realistically visible to the human eye - If it was me, I'd probably use a couple of kilohertz.

Not sure how specifically it's done for OLED though.


Is PWM for varying the brightness of each pixel separately, or for adjusting the brightness of the entire screen? How are these two implemented generally on modern screens? Are PWM and FRC complementary or does one supersede the other? You can tell me about LCDs since you know them better.


At least on my Samsung Galaxy S3, turning the brightness to 100% stops the PWM flicker. If the current to each individual sub-pixel is also PWMed, it's done at a much higher frequency than the global brightness control PWM frequency.


I thought I was imagining it until I saw your comment. Interesting that some see it, while others don’t though.


I found it noticeable at first, it left my eyes feeling slightly tired and “scratchy” and the flicker was particularly noticeable in dark environments with low brightness (which probably makes sense, I guess the “off” part of the duty cycle is longer at lower brightness). I don’t notice it at all now, though I can still spot it if I look for it in a dark environment.


Ah interesting. I definitely don’t notice it at all.


Can you cite any evidence that PWM results in either poorer image quality or a poorer experience?

I don't believe it exists, and I place this in the same category of people who think that wifi makes them sick.


Image quality is improved by PWM brightness, because the alternative is running at 100% duty cycle and changing brightness in software, which causes color banding because you're throwing away bit depth. Additionally, even slow (200Hz approx) PWM is well above the flicker fusion threshold for all humans, so no flicker is visible when your eyes are still.

The problem is phantom array effect artifacts when you move your eyes. These appear and disappear in response to eye movement, so they can be perceived as motion, which is distracting to some people. I personally find PWM very obvious and annoying, but I suspect I have unusually weak saccadic masking.


That's a big reason I didn't move to the XS. I use my phone on low brightness a lot, and the flicker is worse with brightness lower.

Is this intrinsic to oled, or will future versions be able to avoid this?


I use my X in a pitch black room on the lowest brightness setting a lot. I never notice any flickering. All I notice is a vastly better quality screen compared with every other prior iPhone device.


Take another smartphone, and point the camera at yours. Try the X on max brightness and at 10%. You should see some flicker in what the camera sees at 10% but not 100%.

You may not be bothered by it, mind you. I just tend towards dry/sensitive eyes and don't want to aggravate it.


I have very sensitive eyes with classic night blindness and an iPhone X. I don't think I've noticed any problems with headaches or eye strain. Did you notice them after usage or is it just a hypothetical outcome? Does the auto brightness control feature mitigate the problem or push it front end center? I'm curious as I also do not want to aggregate my situation.


I didn't use an X long enough. I didn't want to chance it. So, hypothetical.

However, you can use reduce white point and a higher brightness at night to avoid the flicker. Can be triggered with accessibility shortcut.


Cool, I will check out that setting and keep this in mind for future displays!


Your eyes become less sensitive to flickering in low light. That's how movie theaters could work at 24fps.

That's not to say no one can be bothered by it. But it's much less likely to bother anyone. I have sensitive eyes and tend to notice flickering at anything less than ~70hz. My Xs hasn't bothered me and I tend to use very low brightness even in well lit env.


Traditionally, movie theaters showed each analog film frame two or three times, so the flicker would be 48Hz or 72Hz, not 24Hz. 24Hz flicker is very obvious and annoying to everybody. Digital projectors might sample-and-hold like LCD displays and therefore have no flicker despite the low framerate.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movie_projector#Shutter


I also have really dry eyes pretty much year round (and I'm in Denver which unfortunately makes that worse!) and it's still no issue.

I have seen the videos (especially review videos) where the flicker on the camera is present from another camera, but I haven't noticed any eye strain or any problems with this device. If anything, I'm using it more than my previous ones because reading text on it is so enjoyable with the better screen.


Oh interesting. So, while this affects some people, it may not affect me.

The main people affected are those who get headaches, would you say? Maybe I should reconsider.


Huh? The screen on my X is noticeably better in so many ways from my prior generation iPhone.


Yeah. I thought I just had a busted phone—bad component somewhere, causing flickering. The fact that that's not recognized as a defect is shocking.


I think they were in the luxury position to try bumping up the prices a few generations; up until and including the X that strategy was successful, but now people are voting "no more". Or well, it's still selling, just not as much that it's causing Apple's revenue to keep going upwards. Apple is still one of the most successful companies in the world so I wouldn't call it a problem / failure just yet.


Yep. As I written in another sibling comment, there is a ceiling to what people would pay even if they love the idea of the device. And Apple has hit that ceiling.

I know people who can easily buy 10x iPhones for their entire family and part of their relatives -- and they refuse. These are people who can spend $50k and almost wouldn't notice and even they think the modern iPhones have taken the price too far.


> [...] we believe there are other factors broadly impacting our iPhone performance, including [...] US dollar strength-related price increases

They did address this.


It's hard for me to believe that's the only reason. Apple has historically been VERY stubborn about reducing prices.


Yup. Went and got a nice 2K tablet instead @250 usd. Overall much better utility improvement than swapping one iphone for another.


Yet it was considered acceptable to spend $4-500 on an email only device called Blackberry more than a decade ago.


Only for wealthy professionals. The smartphone market is a bit broader.


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