Apple’s iPhone slowdown: Your questions answered

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Earlier this yr, my mother wanted a brand new telephone. Her iPhone 6 began working slowly, and the battery drained shortly. 

As a substitute of buying a brand new telephone — she could not resolve which to get — she had a brand new battery put in to purchase herself a while. I assumed she was loopy to not simply get a brand new iPhone. Seems, she was on to one thing. 

Apple this week admitted its iOS software program slows down the efficiency of older iPhones. The corporate says iOS does this to counteract issues present in ageing lithium ion-batteries. When a battery will get older, it does not maintain a cost as properly and may unexpectedly shut down if it is put underneath an excessive amount of stress. Apple’s software program prevents that from occurring by slowing efficiency.

What you get is a trade-off. Your telephone is not as snappy because it was once, however it additionally does not flip itself off when the battery says it’s miles from drained. 

Apple’s admission brought on some outrage on-line and raised plenty of questions. Folks have lengthy believed the corporate hinders older gadgets to get prospects to purchase new fashions (one thing Apple has denied), and lots of this week criticized Apple’s lack of transparency round its battery insurance policies. 

Hold studying to seek out out what is going on on.

Why did this information come out?

Earlier this week, Primate Labs, the corporate behind the Geekbench processor benchmarking software program, launched a report that examined a standard criticism from customers: iPhones appear to run extra slowly when a brand new mannequin hits the market. 

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Yep, Apple slows down older iPhones


John Poole, founding father of Primate Labs, mentioned in a weblog publish that processors in iPhones decelerate and reduce in efficiency as batteries age and lose capability. Poole defined that customers count on their telephones to carry out the identical no matter how previous the battery is, however his assessments indicated that wasn’t the case. 

What does Apple say about this?

Apple mentioned in a press release:

“Our aim is to ship one of the best expertise for patrons, which incorporates general efficiency and prolonging the lifetime of their gadgets. Lithium-ion batteries change into much less able to supplying peak present calls for when in chilly circumstances, have a low battery cost or as they age over time, which may end up in the gadget unexpectedly shutting down to guard its digital elements. 

“Final yr we launched a function for iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone SE to clean out the instantaneous peaks solely when wanted to stop the gadget from unexpectedly shutting down throughout these circumstances. We have now prolonged that function to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan so as to add assist for different merchandise sooner or later.”

Why does Apple use lithium-ion batteries?

Lithium-ion batteries are removed from excellent (simply take a look at Samsung and its Observe 7 points from 2016). They’re risky, they deteriorate comparatively shortly, they usually have not modified that a lot over time. A number of years in the past, a complicated battery startup in California, Envia Techniques, did some analysis and located that it took greater than a decade, from 1995 to 2007, to double the power saved in a battery — and since then the rise in saved power hasn’t even managed to hit 30 p.c.

Nonetheless, lithium-ion batteries are higher than the present tech alternate options. They weigh much less, last more and cost extra effectively than older battery varieties, based on Apple’s battery info information. The lithium-ion batteries utilized in Apple’s gadgets are designed to carry no less than 80 p.c of their unique capability for 500 full cost cycles. 

For extra about batteries, take a look at this text from CNET Journal

What occurs to iPhone batteries once they become older?

As batteries age, they do not maintain their fees in addition to newer batteries, they usually can have worse issues when the cost is low or the temperature is chilly. Your battery will not cost above 80 p.c after about 500 cycles, which implies it will not final as lengthy every time you cost it. 

In case your battery is previous or actually chilly, it might unexpectedly shut down, like what occurred to the iPhone 6 and 6S final yr. The processors in these gadgets wished to hit quicker speeds (one thing Apple calls “peak present calls for”) however their batteries could not deal with the surge from the requests, prompting some telephones to easily swap themselves off. 

Is that this the primary time Apple has tweaked its software program to spice up battery life?

Nope. Apple has lengthy targeted on energy administration to ensure you get as a lot life as attainable out of your gadgets. 

The corporate launched “Low Energy Mode” with 2015’s iOS 9 to make your iPhone battery last more. When your battery stage hits 20 p.c after which 10 p.c, you get a notification that permits you to activate Low Energy Mode with a fast faucet. It reduces the display screen’s brightness, minimizes system animations and limits what runs within the background on the telephone. When your gadget reaches a better cost stage, Low Energy Mode mechanically turns itself off. 


Apple’s Low Energy Mode helps preserve battery life. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple additionally has lengthy included power-saving options in its Macs. For example, Mac OS X Mavericks, launched in late 2013, regarded for moments when laptop customers had a number of applications open that they weren’t accessing. The Mac then strategically decreased the processing put towards working applications within the background. 

For extra on find out how to save battery life with iOS 11, take a look at this report

How does Apple’s slowing function work?

Apple’s iOS software program, beginning with final yr’s iOS 10.2.1, integrated higher energy administration capabilities to cope with ageing batteries, the corporate says. The working system slows down your gadget to stop it from shutting down, based on the corporate, however solely in circumstances of chilly temperature, a low battery cost or very previous batteries.

To assist handle energy consumption, your processor will not full an intensive activity instantly, however will as an alternative unfold the trouble out over extra makes an attempt. What you expertise is a telephone that appears to lag a bit; apps run extra slowly and the gadget does not reply as shortly to your requests. 

When does the function begin working?

The function is used solely in iPhones with aged batteries or low battery fees. It additionally slows down your telephone in circumstances of chilly temperatures. The iPhone operates finest in ambient temperatures between 32 levels to 92 levels Fahrenheit.

What telephones does the software program apply to?

Apple’s software program from final yr, iOS 10.2.1, utilized to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the 6S and 6S Plus and the SE. This yr’s iOS 11.2 prolonged the function to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Will probably be utilized to different Apple gadgets sooner or later. 

Does this additionally have an effect on iPads and Macs?

As a result of iPads and Macs have larger batteries, the function is not geared toward these gadgets. 

Why cannot I simply swap out my iPhone battery?

Apple has lengthy confronted criticism about how troublesome it’s to exchange iPhone batteries. Many older Android telephones had detachable backs that allowed customers to swap out their batteries (although utilizing new supplies like metals has brought on some corporations, like Samsung, to cease providing that kind of telephone design). 

You probably have an iPhone, you might need observed there is no detachable again. That was a design technique utilized by Apple so it might cram extra batteries right into a smaller area. That provides you extra battery life but additionally makes it more durable to vary your battery. 

An iFixit information to changing the iPhone 6 battery has 25 steps. The screws to take the gadget aside are tiny, and making a mistake could cause you to brick the telephone.

Apple fees $79 to exchange the battery of an iPhone that is not lined by a guaranty. Firms promote do-it-yourself kits on-line, and you’ll go to a licensed Apple reseller or restore firm. 

Here is a nice primer in your choices for changing your iPhone battery. 


Apple says its software program function prevents surprising shutdowns.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What occurs when you put a brand new battery in your previous telephone?

For those who choose to exchange your iPhone battery, the function that slows down the telephone will mechanically flip off. Will probably be virtually like you might have a brand new telephone — no less than on the subject of the battery and the performance-limiting software program. It begins slowing your telephone solely when the battery will get previous or actually chilly. 

What if I purchase a brand new iPhone 6S? Will or not it’s slower immediately?

No, the function kicks in solely when your battery will get previous or if the telephone is uncovered to excessive chilly. 

Why does my telephone appear to decelerate once I improve to new software program?

At any time when Apple introduces new iOS variations, customers of older iPhones inevitably complain that their gadgets aren’t as snappy. That is not due to deliberate obsolescence — the notion that Apple purposely hobbles previous gadgets to get individuals to improve. As a substitute, it may very well be as a result of your storage is just too full or as a result of your Wi-Fi router is slowing down the gadget, amongst different attainable explanations. 

Is Apple doing this to get me to purchase a brand new telephone?

Apple says no, its software program function is supposed to do the alternative: assist you to lengthen the lifetime of your gadget. Nonetheless, the corporate did not precisely promote that each one it’s possible you’ll have to do to have a quicker telephone is change the battery. And that is inflicting an outcry. 

Are shoppers suing Apple for the slowdown?

Sure, the state of affairs is drawing authorized fireplace. A number of lawsuits in opposition to Apple allege the software program tweak that slows some older iPhones is a fraud designed to spur upgrades to the newest mannequin. 

Will this trigger Apple to vary something?

The corporate would not say if new iOS updates will embrace notifications or the choice to show off the performance-limiting options. It did say, although, that it plans to roll out the function to future gadgets. It is one thing that is most likely not going away anytime quickly. However Apple could also be extra clear about what it is doing in regard to limiting your gadget’s efficiency. 

First printed Dec. 21, three:35 p.m. PT
Replace, Dec. 22 at 9:30 a.m. PT: Provides details about a pending lawsuit in opposition to Apple. 2:35 p.m.: Contains point out of extra pending lawsuits. 

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