Apple Confirms It Slows Down Older iPhones

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Apple admits it does slow down older iPhones due to ‘ageing batteries’, but do other smartphone makers?

Apple has confirmed it does deliberately slow down older iPhones, but the company insists this is actually a feature designed to prolong the life of the handset.

Apple said that it had introduced the feature about a year ago for the iPhone 6 and 7 in an effort to prevent the sudden shutdown of these phones.

However, Apple’s confirmation that it intentionally slows down older iPhones could add to user concerns that Apple is doing this in order to encourage people to upgrade to new devices.

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Apple Admission

The slowdown of older iPhones came to light on Reddit, after a iPhone user shared performance tests that suggested that their iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged.

However the handset suddenly sped up again after the battery was replaced.

Then John Poole founder of benchmarking firm Primate Labs gathered Geekbench data and analysed thousands of iPhones running different versions of the iOS operating system.

He found some of these older iPhones did indeed appear to have been deliberately slowed down.

Apple’s practice of slowing down older iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 seems to have begun when the iPad maker released iOS 10.2.1 in January 2017.

And now Apple has confirmed it does slow older iPhones in the following statement.

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” said Apple. “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,” Apple said. “We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

Old Batteries

Essentially, Apple is saying that when a battery is in a poor condition, it may not be able to supply the required maximum current demanded by the phone’s processor at full speed.

If that occurs, the iPhone could shut down unexpectedly to protect the internal components.

This seems to be have been the case after owners of iPhone 6S began finding their devices would turn off abruptly, even though there was about 30-40 percent charge remaining in the battery.

Users who have older iPhones are advised to change their batteries to prevent this.

Unhelpfully, Apple tends to glue in its batteries, which hinders the easy swapping to a new battery.

But Apple does charge £79 in the UK (or $79/£59 in the US) to replace batteries not covered under the phone’s warranty.

Whether iPhone users will feel this is a cynical ploy by Apple to encourage customers to purchase newer iPhone models, remains to be seen.

But certainly, there is an argument that Apple should have been more transparent about the slowdown “feature”, and some will feel their trust in the company has been dented by the admission.

Also, users will want to know if other smartphone makers implement a similar policy, and if not, why Apple feels it needs to do so.

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