Apple admits it artificially slows down iPhones with older batteries

Apple has admitted that it artificially slows down iPhones with older batteries - even some iPhones with less than 1 year on their battery clock - to prevent them from even more serious issues like unexpected shutdowns.

The company kept this under the radar from the public for nearly a year, but a recent user investigation on Reddit and a subsequent confirmation from benchmarks, provoked an official response.

The issue boils down to the following: aging batteries cannot hold a charge as good as a new one and when the battery level is low or when you use your phone in cold temperatures, it may not be able to deliver enough power. Furthermore, this becomes a problem when you open a heavy webpage that taxes the processor to its maximum, or when you play a demanding game, as an aging battery with lower capacity just cannot deliver enough power in those times, and this peak load will force the phone to unexpectedly shut-down. This is exactly what happened to a considerable number of iPhone 6s devices in late 2016, about a year into the lifecycle of the phone, when the battery already started to show its age.

At the end of January 2017, amidst ever-growing complaints about unexpected iPhone shut-downs, Apple released iOS 10.2.1, a software update that seemed to fix the shut-down issue in a mysterious way. At the time, no one asked how Apple did it and the secretive company itself never publicly disclosed the method it had used. But not long after this update, a new issue popped up: iPhones started running slower, much slower.

Fast forward to these past couple of weeks, when an independent user investigation pinned down the issue to a single cause: Apple was artificially slowing down iPhones with aging batteries, throttling their processors to run at lower speeds. Limiting the processor performance means that it will no longer require that much power from the battery, so the phone will not unexpectedly shut down. But it also means that your phone will simply run slower, and this is what happened to many iPhone 6s and iPhone 6 devices. The iOS 10.2.1 update introduced this new "feature" to the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 6, 6 Plus and SE, and the more recent iOS 11.2 updated extended it to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Apple also plans to further extend this to newer iPhone models as their batteries start to age.

Here is Apple's official statement:

In a way, this is indeed a fix for unexpected shut-downs, but the complete lack of communication from Apple about this is a problem. After all, the natural reaction of most people when they see their iPhone slowing down is not "I need a new battery" (users never get a notification that their battery is in need of replacement), but it's more to the tune of "I need a new phone." A phone with an old battery that runs out of charge faster is something that is expected, but having a slower running iPhone because of an old battery is definitely not anticipated. 

For years, conspiracy theories ran wild saying that Apple is slowing down its older iPhones on purpose, to push people into buying a new device sooner. These latest findings do not confirm Apple slowing down iPhones for no reason, but they do show that the company can spare important facts and mislead its customers. It also raises questions whether there were similar practices in the past that we don't know about.

What is worse, it shows that iPhones - despite their great resale value and years-long software update support - age faster than anticipated, sometimes requiring a battery replacement service in less than a year. In stark contrast, other companies like rival Samsung promise that their flagship products like the Galaxy S8 series will have a battery that retains 95% of its capacity after two years of use. To put this into perspective, an 80% battery wear is traditionally considered the point when it needs replacement.

At the end of the day, contrary to what we have believed for a long while, we now know that older iPhones do indeed get slower with time. We, however, also now have a solution: replace the battery. This is free within the two-year iPhone warranty, if you prove that your battery is indeed old enough, but will cost consumers $79 for an out-of-warranty iPhone and requires a visit to an Apple Store or sending your iPhone to Apple via mail (which in turn means that you will be left without a phone for at least a few days while the battery is being replaced).

source: CNET



1. w1000i

Posts: 251; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

They slow it and they don't till you.

17. daniyal_05

Posts: 93; Member since: Nov 15, 2017

Now iphoneX will plunge lower from an already low level. Shame to see apple flopping.

20. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

OMG this has been reported like a bombshell story in the main stream Just like Russia Russia Russia Calm down people, there are no reports showing how many iPhone percentages are been affected by this battery issue, in my guessed opinion it surely must be a very small amount of phones world wide. Probably 0.001% of all the iPhone users use Geekbench App and even among them it is very sparse according to that graph. This is not a so called "foul" step by Apple, No! What else would they have done? To tell the entire world that your iPhone maybe affected with this VERY RARE battery issue and that's why we release this update (10.2.1 or 11.2) just in case to help your work flow to be seamless??? How will the public react?? There are about 800 million active iPhone users around the world and most are anticipating to buy a new iPhone soon, what would that message do to them??? Stop crying and whining about this. In the tech world stuff like this happens and of you are one of those unlucky bastards just replace your battery now, game over. Nothing is perfect of flawless in this world. It's funny how you forgot to mention what happened to the Galaxy Note At least Apple fixed this issue for those who had this issue and because of that they could use their phones without any shut downs.

26. Humanoid

Posts: 1226; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Tons of people use their phones to do the basic. Calls, sms, casual photos or any messenger app... This regular user wont notice if phones slow down a bit. More active users will.

48. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

And therefore, this has also become a "feature"

52. AxelFoley unregistered

Wait, wait, after all this time we've been hearing about "performance, performance, performance, benchmarks, benchmarks, benchmarks, lag, lag, lag", it turns out that none of it ever really mattered. Right!

65. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

...because they were introducing a feature (discreetly via background processing).

30. ph00ny

Posts: 2069; Member since: May 26, 2011

There are reports of people with replaced batteries having this throttling issue within the first year.

36. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1475; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Apple's "solution" to the problem however suggests it could affect all iPhones. If it only affected a select few as you keep saying Apple would simply offer a replacement battery. Since they don't it means that the problem is so widespread that doing so would cost them a fortune and irreparable reputation damage. Apple clearly didn't want it to come out and now that it has, are trying to save face.

37. ColinW

Posts: 413; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

This is not a rare issue it affects all iPhones. Why on earth would Apple interfere with all its phones without user permission, if it was a rare occurrence? They have not fixed the issue, they have made it worse for all users. Why are you apologizing for this disgraceful behavior?

38. Nutcase4u2

Posts: 44; Member since: Oct 15, 2015

Is it just me or does this sound very similar to the Note 7 situation? Just blown WAY out of proportion. It's a smart decision for Apple to slow down the processors in this particular case to prevent phone shut-down, but it also leaves consumers guessing if they've been doing it for years on all their other devices. Now I'm sitting here wondering......

85. makatijules

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 11, 2017

Yes I think it is a smart move. So why did they lie about it?

86. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Yeah, even Windows and Android have long had this, but it was always optional; a power saver mode, not forced on anyone.

49. xfire99

Posts: 1207; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

This is the most dumbest excuse I ever read! Read carefully again before writing such long nonsens excuse. This affects all iDevices. Moron.

56. semipro1337

Posts: 114; Member since: Oct 01, 2012

None of that would have ever need said if Apple just let everyone know this was happening. The percentage of people who use geek bench is not relevant. I use a 6plus for work, and it's been slow as hell for a long time, and now I know why and I don't appreciate it. Modern processors and operating systems have the ability to adjust CPU voltages on the fly, there was no need to interfere with the built in ability to do this. That and apparently they use the crappiest battery's on the planet if they expect them to be so worn at the 1 year mark to step in and be the silent hero, which backfired.

84. makatijules

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 11, 2017 Jared Kushner failed to disclose emails sent to Trump team about WikiLeaks and Russia Facts show the email contain an encrypted link that led to specific documents that contain Wikileaks content about Hilary and her emails. Stop acting like Trump didn't know about it, it was sent to him too. Once you see Kushner brought up on charges, what you gonna say then?

89. w1000i

Posts: 251; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

Any phone over 1 year will be affected by some %

93. tedkord

Posts: 17478; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

This is very real (again, just like Russia), and your spin is just as funny as Trump's. ALL lithium batteries share with time, and this affects every single iPhone sold from the 6 up. Every single one.

33. Techlover2018

Posts: 80; Member since: Jul 14, 2017

They will do do whatever they want to do, afterall its their iPhone, their OS and their Sheeple.

53. Mreveryphone

Posts: 1849; Member since: Apr 22, 2014

So basically Apple is building a inferior product right out the gate if they're only going to give it a year before they start to throttle performance. My windows phone is 3 or 4 years old and still runs buttery smooth and still keeps a good charge just as well as my old nexus phone.. So a phone that cost twice as much can't make it past a year or two??

54. mahima

Posts: 743; Member since: Nov 20, 2014

fast charging decrease battery life...says iphone user...and their phone battery cannot survive one year

75. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

This is a legitimate question and not intended to bash Apple or IOS. But (from a technical standpoint) how come Android doesn't have to do this? I have a 4 year old Android tablet that performs the same as the day I bought it and with the original battery.

94. tedkord

Posts: 17478; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Technically, it's a trade off. Your four year old battery doesn't hold the same charge it did when new. It'll vary by how much you used and charged it. Apple's solution isn't necessarily wrong, their decision to be shady about it and not tell anyone is. And, certainly their reasoning for not being transparent is that slowing phones create more sales.

2. Feanor

Posts: 1420; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

And why don't they implement instead a battery care feature like Sony? I do not know whether the battery care feature of Sony prevents battery damage due to performance spikes but it definitely saves the battery from frequent overcharging, which in the end of the day increases battery life again without having to resort to performance hampering methods.

50. dimas

Posts: 3420; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Adding battery care means that it will take years before people change instead of the usual 1 or 2 years paid replacement. Sony's battery technology will also add cost compared to the mass produced batteries. Samsung also have this kind of quality control post note 7 incident. Fast battery, cable and earphone replacements add to their profits. They have a strong brand that people don't mind paying for something that should have been durable out of the box.

3. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1475; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

It's kinda funny how this only happens once every iPhone passes the age of 1 year, then suddenly the batteries are too old and they need to be slowed down. Or is it exactly in line with one of Apple's statements in a courtcase about their warranty that says Apple's devices were only considered to have a 1 year lifespan, so potentially they use this as a means to "encourage" consumers to buy a new one because it feels slower.

4. M.O.A.B

Posts: 322; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

but according to apple fans, slow charging is there to help extend battery's life span, guess they are out of excuses now for the lack of fast charging for years, what is even worse is that they have to pay extra $75 for it, and get extra wear and tear to the battery (as they claim about fast charging)

92. M.O.A.B

Posts: 322; Member since: Feb 13, 2015

in other words they are paying more to shorten the battery's life span even more

6. darkkjedii

Posts: 31623; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Cnour, bucky, piyath, please report.

10. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

What happened to my best friend mxyzptlk?

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