Apple finally admitted that it slows some older phones, though they insist that they have good reason for doing so.
On Wednesday, the company confirmed that recent updates to its IOS operating system can cause older iPhones with aging batteries to slow down under certain circumstances. Though the company says that the only reason they are doing this is that an old lithium ion battery in an iPhone can cause it to not function properly or even to shut down if its processors are running at full speed. They say that this is what happened with a number of iPhone 6 and 6S devices last year. According to them, the problem occurs because old batteries don’t hold their charges as well as new batteries, and that the problem can be exasperated if the battery charge is particularly low or if the temperature is parthicularly cold.
Apple said in a statement that while this new power management feature has indeed been incorporated into recent iOS updates, it will not slow down all older iPhones. It will only slow older iPhones with very old batteries, those with low charges, and those operating in very cold weather. The feature slows the phone by using a technique called “smoothing,” in which tasks are broken down and delayed by running them in sequences to relieve battery stress.
Apple indicated that this power management feature applies to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, and iPhone SE from the iOS 10.2.1 update forward, and for the iPhone 7 from iOS 11.2. They further indicated that they would continue the practice going forward. So, newer iPhone models will likely see slowdowns sometime in the future.
iPhone users have long insisted that their devices slow down with age, and they have long theorized that that this was so they’d be forced to buy newer devices. Though Apple has long denied this. It was only forced to issue a statement because of Primate Labs, the creators of the Geekbench processor benchmarking software. Company founder John Poole posted on the company’s blog this week proof that iPhones do slow down as their batteries age.
Many in the industry believe that Apple’s lack of transparency regarding this issue will come back to haunt them. Marco Arment, who co-founded Tumblr, thinks that Apple’s reputation has suffered damage that will last a decade. Others say that Apple should at least notify users when their devices begin slowing down because of battery issues, and that they should give them the option of whether they want to use the power management feature. At the same time, users on forums such as Reddit have been debating the merits and the potential consequences of replacing their batteries.
Improving battery life has been a focus of consumer electronic companies for many years, but progress has been slow. According to Envia Systems, companies were only able to double battery capacity from 1995 to 2007, and since then they’ve only increased battery life by 30%.
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