Apple has apologised after it was revealed that the company slows older iPhone models on purpose to ‘preserve battery life’. It was long suspected by some users that Apple deliberately slows older iPhones to force people to upgrade their phones, Apple later admitted that they do in fact throttle older iPhones but claim this is ‘to preserve battery life’ to prevent unexpected shutdowns or system instability as lithium ion batteries become less able to supply peak power demands as they age which can cause unexpected shutdowns before the battery is fully drained.
The issue was first discussed on reddit where a user claimed their iPhone became a lot faster after a battery replacement, the benchmark GeekBench then ran some tests and found that older iPhones were indeed slower than when they were released. It was after this that Apple released their first statement.
This news was met with disgust, distrust and criticism and eight separate lawsuits were filed against Apple in the US alone as well as additional lawsuits in other countries including France. In France, planned obsolescence – that is, an action undertaken to shorten the lifespan of a device and force users to upgrade sooner, is actually a criminal offence.
The general consensus among users was that Apple should have informed the consumers that this was happening and given them the choice between performance and battery life rather than taking the decision out of their hands.
Apple has since apologised for slowing phones down by promising two things to consumers: a software update in Q1 2018 that will allow them to monitor the health of their battery and cheaper battery replacements at $29 in the US and presumably £25 in the UK for the iPhone 6 or later.
The one thing that is still distinctly lacking is the option to choose whether or not your device is throttled, the throttling will automatically be enabled after a certain number of cycles on the battery. This blanket approach does not take the health of the individual battery into account at all, nor does it allow the user to opt out. The fact that the only way to stop this from happening is to pay Apple more money for a battery replacement is little better than driving users to buy new phones by secretly throttling their devices. Apple’s ‘apology’ is a weak excuse considering it does not actually solve anything nor give users any control over the situation.