Apple has landed itself in hot water the last couple of weeks after it admitted that it deliberately reduced processor speeds on iPhones with old batteries. The move was purportedly to preserve battery life and reduce unexpected shutdowns.
[Update: 4.30PM, 30.12.2017] Battery replacement program is in effect immediately, through December 2018.
Before you indulge in the “planned obsolescence” conspiracy theory, Apple admits it could have been more transparent, and should have communicated it better.
The company says that “we have never – and would never – do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”
Some owners of older iPhones claim Apple has reduced their phone’s performance to force them to upgrade to newer models.
Not a conspiracy theory
Let’s face it. Our devices don’t last forever. Whether it’s a phone or a notebook or a camera, performance can be expected to degrade over time. This could be a combination of both hardware and software. As companies introduce more new features and enhancements, old hardware may not be able to keep up. User experience then takes a hit, either with missing features or less than satisfactory performance.
When it comes to hardware, one of the most crucial components is the battery. And guess what, batteries age and degrade over time. I’ve seen this happen on my camera batteries, smartphones and notebooks (yes, even the MacBook Pro).
Rechargeable batteries become less effective as its ages and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Chemically aged batteries are less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge.
While they will naturally degrade over time, how a device is used and charge also affects performance of the battery and its lifespan. Leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can also cause a battery to age faster.
This has evidently, happened to some iPhone 6 and 6 Plus phones. To mitigate this, Apple released iOS 10.2.1 which included power management improvements to avoid unexpected shut downs in iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPhone 6s/6s Plus, and iPhone SE.
“With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown,” Apple said in its official statement. “While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.”
Of course all will be well when a chemically aged battery is replaced with a new one, Apple stated.
Apple later also rolled out this out to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 11.2.
I can personally report regarding iPhone 6 unexpected shutdowns, as my dad’s unit has been experiencing this issue. We’re on the way to replace the internal battery, while he’s switched back to his old trusty iPhone 5 for the time being.
My old iPhone 6s has had no issues with unexpected shutdowns, perhaps because I got the original battery replaced half a year back.
Apple said, “It should go without saying that we think sudden, unexpected shutdowns are unacceptable. We don’t want any of our users to lose a call, miss taking a picture or have any other part of their iPhone experience interrupted if we can avoid it.”
How Apple is making things right
To address customers’ concerns and to recognise them for their loyalty, Apple is doing a couple of things.
[Update] Firstly, it is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by USD50, from USD79 to USD29 . This applies to an iPhone 6 or later, and is available starting no through December 2018, worldwide.
The offer will also be made available in Malaysia and Singapore, with details to be provided soon on apple.com. For Malaysian pricing, the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement is MYR369 but with the offer, this is reduced to MYR129.
Apple will also issue an iOS software update in early 2018, with new features to give users more information about their iPhone’s battery. Think of it as Coconut Battery (available for Mac portables) for iOS devices. All I can say is, “freaking finally!”
Yes, Apple let its users down by not being transparent. But I’m glad it has owned up to its mistake and making things clearer for its customers. Trust and loyalty should never be taken for granted.
Are you using an old iPhone? Have you experienced battery issues? Do you think Apple is doing the right thing? Leave your comments below.