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Apple Confirms iPhone With Older Batteries Will Take Hits On Performance (theverge.com) 172

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Reddit users have noticed that Apple appears to be slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries. While many iPhone users have experienced perceived slowdowns due to iOS updates over the years, it appears that there's now proof Apple is throttling processor speeds when a battery capacity deteriorates over time. Geekbench developer John Poole has mapped out performance for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, and has come to the conclusion that Apple's iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce this throttling for different devices. iOS 10.2.1 is particularly relevant, as this update was designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. Apple's fix appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down. Geekbench reports that iOS 11.2.0 introduces similar throttling for low iPhone 7 low-capacity batteries.

When reached for comment, Apple basically confirmed the findings to The Verge, but disputes the assumed intention: "Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components. Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."

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Apple Confirms iPhone With Older Batteries Will Take Hits On Performance

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @03:43PM (#55778619)
    Seems like Apple could have avoided some of this by making the battery a commodity item and easily replaceable.
    • 1. Make battery easily replaceable by user
      2. Allow user to extend life of device and postpone purchase of latest-greatest
      3. Profit???
      • Actually what shortens an iPhone life, is the fact the OS no longer supports devices after 4 years. the iPhone 6 will probably not see iOS 12, iOS 11 is its last supported version, and besides some minor speed decreases from a shorten battery, we have an an OS designed for a device twice as fast full of features, and security stuff that just burdens the phone down.

        You can get a replacement battery. However while it will improve how long you can use the device all day, it will still seem slow and poky beca

        • Just put iDroid on it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Woldscum ( 1267136 )

          I just replaced my 4s which is 7 years old. Because my CC company, Bank and Broker killed app support for ios9. So no more 2FA. I went with a Moto e4 for $130 unlocked, removable battery and up to 128GB SD card slot. You can buy a new sub $150 phone every year and still save $ over flagships and OS/hardware planned obsolescence.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JBMcB ( 73720 )

          Actually what shortens an iPhone life, is the fact the OS no longer supports devices after 4 years.

          Five years for me. My iPhone 5 just got it's last OS update, though I've had security and bugfix releases on my old 3GS after the final OS release.

          Still quite a bit better than most Android devices (my Asus tablet shipped with an old OS, and eventually was updated to a slightly less old OS, and they are still selling it as a current device) Except for Nexus/Pixel gear which is rather good.

          • My GS4 is over 4 years old and nothing is missing from not having the latest OS updates.
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            It's it better to have 4 years of OS updates, or pay half as much and upgrade to a new phone every couple of years?

            The latter seems like a better option. You have a spare phone just in case, new battery, new features and upgraded hardware...

    • by ark1 ( 873448 )
      But then you discourage users from buying a whole new device -> less profitable.
    • You go to an Apple Store or other third party, and have them replace the battery.

      It's pretty easy and then you don't have to think about it for a while.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But not thinking about things is what gets people to buy apple stuff in the first place.

      • But, Apple Rage!

        That being said, access to an Apple Store or a certified Third Party, isn't always convent, compared buying a battery from Amazon and putting it in yourself. Also the cost of labor will make it that much more expensive to replace.

        However not having a replaceable battery, and head phone jacks now are trademarks of so called "Premium" phones. But you know if Apple does have a user replaceable battery, then the critics will be all up in arms about the unsightly bulge, or gaps. Giving it a less

        • That being said, access to an Apple Store or a certified Third Party, isn't always convent

          So what is it? Beguinage, or perhaps monastery?

        • It doesn't matter if it's not convenient if you only have to do it every 2-3 years. Or never; every iPhone I kept for two years I never bothered to replace the battery. My wife tends to keep hers 4-6 (or longer) so she'll need a new battery at some point...

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Samsung can make a premium phone with replaceable battery. Feels just as good as the iPhone. There is no excuse.

        • So buy a battery from Amazon and put it in yourself.

          Apple isn't stopping you.

          The instructions are on iFixit. They'll even sell you a battery.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      They cost about $20-$30 from Amazon and I can replace one in about ten minutes. I imagine an actual tech who does it regularly could do it in under 5.

      I remember I bought an extra battery for a Nokia 6180 way back. It was something like $60. In the 90s.

      • They cost about $20-$30 from Amazon and I can replace one in about ten minutes. I imagine an actual tech who does it regularly could do it in under 5.

        I remember I bought an extra battery for a Nokia 6180 way back. It was something like $60. In the 90s.

        Given the fire potential are you ever concerned about the quality of the replacement batteries on Amazon? There are lots of counterfeit products there.

    • It's really easy. Just buy a new phone! Yes, I know even Apple offers battery replacement for less than the cost of a new phone - but Apple apparently doesn't want you to know that's why your phone is slow. They want you to think it's slow because it's just not capable of it.

      • but Apple apparently doesn't want you to know that's why your phone is slow. They want you to think it's slow because it's just not capable of it.

        The real question here is will you get better performance after changing the battery. Or are they just slowing down all models x years old due to battery concerns. And, if performance is restored, will they recognize 3rd party battery replacements.

        Given Apple's history on this sort of thing, I doubt it. So the only option is to buy another shiny, new Apple toy.

    • Actually, I have an appointment with the local Apple store to replace the weak old battery of my 6Plus. I will be without a phone for 2-3 hours, and then I am good again for a few years or until I succumb to tge temptation of say, a future XsPlus.
      This is convenient and easy enough for me. I don’t really crave a user replaceable battery, phones can be made slimmer and with a more tightly optimised battery form factor without that feature. I prefer that approach and can live with a few hours downtime a
    • Naaa.....Apple makes money by selling consumer electronics, not with fixing already sold devices. This is nothing else than a continued push to force Apple users into spending a lot of money every year on new product. While I think it is shoddy practice by Apple, the blame is also on the Apple customers. You folks ought to be well aware that Apple's interest is exclusively to grow the amount of money they get from you, especially after roping you into the Apple ecosystem once. Don't like that? The stop buyi
  • Well for $79 or free with AppleCare+ we can fix it

    • by Anonymous Coward

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

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

      The problem is that iOS doesn’t alert you about what’s happening. If it said something like, “Your battery needs to be replaced. Until it is, your phone will run with reduced speed. Stop being poor and buy AppleCare+” Then you would have the informa

      • by jemmyw ( 624065 )
        This assumes too much competence for a large organisation. I imagine they did implement the feature wanting it to be useful to end users and never put in a message because they couldn't agree on the wording. You can think up those scenarios where they're all sitting around arguing about whether or not each particular way of saying it would make the customer feel like this, or put Apple in this light.

        Then they decide to defer the wording and release the feature, seeing as its ready to go.
      • Where would the proper threshold be?
        These batteries are dying after we start using them. I replaced my phone after I couldn't get a full 8 hour charge. However for someone else it would be 12 hours.

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @03:44PM (#55778627)

    If Apple is so concerned about the impact of old batteries, then why don't they make the batteries user-replaceable?

    • why don't they make the batteries user-replaceable?

      They already are. I just replaced mine earlier this month.

    • The quest for thinness. Customers love thin, light phones. A replaceable battery adds extra thickness for the battery enclosure over just using a bare cell inside the phone. That extra milimeter really matters when selling phones. It's not just an Apple thing: Phones with easily replacable batteries are the exception now, not the norm.

      It is possible-ish to replace the battery in an iPhone. Exactly how hard depends upon the model, but it isn't something your typical phone user, with no experience in electron

      • The quest for thinness.

        My current phone, which is as thin as any Apple phone and has a user-replaceable battery, says that's not true. I think the actual reason is two-fold: it reduces manufacturing costs, and it encourages people to replace their phone rather than just the battery.

    • User replaceable batteries in the same form factor would result in smaller batteries because of the additional shielding, casing, latches, connectors, wires. If the volume inside the phone is the same, and you have to add all of that due to safety regulations and good design, then something has to give.

      Then the complaint becomes "Why don't they ship a bigger battery? WTF apple? Why do I have to buy this bigger battery with a huge lump on the back in order to have it last 30% longer?!"

      Note that this is al

      • User replaceable batteries in the same form factor would result in smaller batteries because of the additional shielding, casing, latches, connectors, wires.

        I'm very skeptical of this argument. My current phone has a 2600mAh replaceable battery (you can also get ones with higher capacity), is extremely thin (I believe that you can get a phone that is a millimeter thinner, but that's it), and has no additional shielding, latches, or wires, and the removable back panel is very thin. You're correct, there is the connector, although it's soldered directly onto the circuit board (so no wires) is thinner than the battery, and takes up very little space.

        These argument

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @03:46PM (#55778643)
    It's not like Apple hid what they were doing. This was all spelled out clearly in Apple's release notes: "Bug fixes and feature enhancements."
  • by Anonymous Coward

    that they denied and lied about this all the way up until someone definitely proved it. What else that they're currently denying, or have been denying in the past, is not true?

    • A phone is a commodity. I can't particularly name any killer apps that require me to stay on either iOS or Android (well, except perhaps their differing use of their messaging apps over SMS).

      I don't need anonymous cowards telling me that I should feel a particular outrage regarding my choice of phone manufacturer.

      If a person wants to use an iPhone or an Android, why get angry over it? Are you equally angry over what car they drive?

    • What? No they didn't. This is a fairly new feature, so if you think it was a problem when iOS 7 came out and made the iPhone 4 slow, that has nothing to do with this.

      They never said anything about this battery thing one way or another until the tests came out, and then they crafted some PR stuff and came clean. I don't think it was a great thing to do without telling anyone, but they haven't lied about anything yet.

  • I'm still on iOS9 on my 6S+. I'm not an uberbeard that waits for something to be in the wild for 5 years before beginning to adopt it. I had an iPhone 4. It worked well. No slowdowns, no battery problems. Apple released the iPhone 5, and my phone still worked well. I upgraded to the most recent iOS , and my battery which previously lasted for 2 days was barely staying alive for 6 hours, and everything was slow - even browsing the exact same sites I was before the upgrade. Maybe as a result of that, they dec
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Buy a new iPhone!!!! Thanks!

    Yours truly,
    Apple shareholders

  • by ark1 ( 873448 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @03:59PM (#55778777)
    Are those devices performing without slowdowns when connected to a charger?
    • And what if you replace the battery - I've got an iPhone 6 with a new battery replaced at the Apple store. Does the throttling take into account some metadata date on the battery or does it just assume based upon my device' model #?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If only it said in TFA.... it's based on the voltage output level of the battery which decreases with age. New battery would restore the voltage levels and hence stop the throttling.

        • And it does stop the throttling.

          I'd actually discovered this issue about three weeks ago, thought I was maybe going nuts.

          My 6+ was not running as long as I liked on a charge, so I changed the battery. I'd noticed it was slower after a recent update, I thought it wasn't handling the new software well. With the new battery, it immediately got significantly faster.

          I'd been contemplating replacing it, but I always make sure my old devices go to good homes, so the battery replacement made sense even if I still

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      According to the original story on Reddit, you'll still see throttling when the phone is plugged in.

    • iPhone Need a Battery Replacement, How to Check? Are you experiencing a performance issue or slow speed on iPhone? Apple officialy confirmed that the iOS would throttle the performance of iPhones with an older battery. This makes sense, and you can speed up iPhone and get the performance back by replacing the old battery. In addition to this worn iPhone battery, there may have other reasons that may affect your iPhone performance, and the main reason is lack of free spaces. Before you start to replace iPh
  • I am so tired of stuff like this. Especially with batteries.

    With Android, for another example, it's the "I'm going to poll - oops, I mean accept pushes - less and less frequently if you aren't waving the phone around. Because battery." So if you want Gmail to beep at you when the boss or the wife emails, too bad - it will beep at you only when it's good and ready, because battery!

    But I want you to perform, battery be danged! "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that. I can't let you jeopardize the battery

  • "We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future"

    Should be

    "We will slow down every previous iPhone when a new one releases"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They deliberately designed the system to degrade. Customers are being hurt by their actions. Lawyers can smell the money from a mile away.

    (Really, Apple could have saved everyone a headache by creating the option to improve performance or save battery life, just like on Windows or Android.)

  • to get the most out of your iphone hook it up to a car battery
  • This is a good feature and makes a lot sense speaking as both a user and an engineer.

    • What would be even better is if it didn't silently degrade it's performance without telling you it was doing it, why it was doing it, or how to fix it, and if Apple were open about it in the first place.

  • Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. There is no question about it. I'm afraid. ... Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a SIRI 9000 computer...'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you...'

    Siriously, as long as throttling is easy to turn off, I'm okay with it. Although, it would also be polite if a message warned the user about throttle mode with an option or link to instructions to turn it off (accepting shorter charge cycles). HAL is so rude.

  • my phone back to iOS 8 I encourage everyone to do the same, to saturate their service and give them a clear message to fuck off from the device that we purchased
  • by supernova87a ( 532540 ) <kepler1@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @06:16PM (#55779817)
    This just goes to show how people's expectations and tolerances get more and more demanding (and forgetful) over time as technology improves.

    Before Apple and others made this move to maximize battery space by removing the capability to user-replace, everyone complained about battery life.

    Now, despite battery life being hours more than before, we forget how much benefit the capacity benefit has brought, and move on to the next complaint about how the battery isn't user replaceable and eats into performance when it gets old (mind you, performing and delivering usable hours far beyond what was possible before).

    So users, which is it? Is this not the nightmare of technology developers, when people keep on demanding the next thing, and you no longer get acknowledgement / it's just table stakes for the achievements you've made so far.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      User replaceable batteries are a requirement for any useful smartphone model. To claim otherwise is to be a shill.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      The iPhone 7 has a 1960mAh battery. The Galaxy S5 has a 2800mAh battery which is removable. Tell me again what this maximize battery space thing was about?

      But before you complain about comparing Apples we can look further:
      The successor: Galaxy S6 2550mAh non-removable. WHAT A BENEFIT!
      The 2014 contender: iPhone 6 1810mAh battery.

      The benefits are asstounding [sic]

    • Batteries degrade. We all know this.

      The only reason for engineering a non-replaceable battery in any device that requires one is planned obsolescence, period.

      I mean, think about it. Would you buy a new car every 5 or so years because the automotive engineers decided it was better to seal the battery to the car and have it non-replaceable/non-servicable? Current flagship cell phones have been well over $500 for many years now. The cost of a replaceable battery in a model that has a user-swappable battery is

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      This just goes to show how people's expectations and tolerances get more and more demanding (and forgetful) over time as technology improves.

      Before Apple and others made this move to maximize battery space by removing the capability to user-replace, everyone complained about battery life.

      Now, despite battery life being hours more than before, we forget how much benefit the capacity benefit has brought, and move on to the next complaint about how the battery isn't user replaceable and eats into performance when it gets old (mind you, performing and delivering usable hours far beyond what was possible before).

      So users, which is it? Is this not the nightmare of technology developers, when people keep on demanding the next thing, and you no longer get acknowledgement / it's just table stakes for the achievements you've made so far.

      Well, since you bring this up, users are now complaining about: (1) battery life, (2) decreased phone performance with age, (3) the missing headphone jack ("courage"), and (4) the inability to simultaneously charge the phone while using wired headphones.

      Seriously, read that last sentence again and think about how that could possibly bring the user an improved experience.

      You get acknowledgement for achievements made so far when you actually make them. Instead, all I see is them removing hardware capability

  • by Anonymous Coward

    customers to easily change the battery.

  • "It just works..." It just works the way Apple tells it to. Oh you'd rather have a shorter battery life because you want the increased battery life? Tough shit, Apple already made that decision for you.

    • Re:It just works (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mal-2 ( 675116 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2017 @08:49PM (#55780589) Homepage Journal

      It's not just battery life, it's the fact that due to internal resistance, older batteries can't deliver as much current even when they are adequately charged. This causes the phone to crash and restart, even if the battery is at 40% charge, because it has enough power but cannot deliver it fast enough.

      While it would be nice to get a warning about the battery condition harming performance, there really isn't a better technical way to deal with the problem of mediocre battery condition (other than replacement of course).

      • Huh that's really interesting, I didn't realize it worked that way. I hope somebody mods you up.

      • It's not just battery life, it's the fact that due to internal resistance, older batteries can't deliver as much current even when they are adequately charged. This causes the phone to crash and restart, even if the battery is at 40% charge, because it has enough power but cannot deliver it fast enough.

        I keep reading this, but I have to wonder... if it's just a physical battery issue, why did the "suddenly die at 32% battery charge" issue not rear its head before iOS 10.3 (or whatever point release it was)?

        • It did, though not as often. I saw it happen on my iPhone 4 at the end of its life.

          But it's fairly likely that the components in the older phones (pre-iPhone 6, say) couldn't draw as much power as the newer SoCs relative to the output of the battery. So the iPhone 4 would ask for more power to do something, and even though the battery was old, the iPhone 4 really just didn't have a lot of guts in it, and it was well below the battery's tolerance.

          That's just a guess, though.

  • Apple could just make the battery of their phones removable; instead, they ask their customers to throw away half a day of their life in order to drive to an authorized extortion center and wait for hours for the battery to be replaced, while paying 89 € (plus 12,20 € of shipping fees) for the privilege of the experience.
  • It seems we know have official proof that Apple slow down our phones. But is it the same thing with Android phones? Does 3 years old android phones have the same/similar slowdown?

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