We know that Apple has been slowing down older iPhones, and they have rectified that by offering replacement batteries at a really low price. Apple is claiming good intentions with this move, but people aren’t exactly happy about it. Why? Well, it feels like a tactic to get them to upgrade to a pricey new iPhone. Which isn’t even necessary in some cases. Lawsuits have been filed against Apple, even after they apologized for the slow down. The big “fix” for all of this is just that you should replace your battery. Lithium-ion batteries naturally degrade after a certain amount of charge cycles, at which point they can’t go back to full capacity. But rather than have a phone that just doesn’t last as long, Apple’s move gives you a much slower phone to try and counteract the drop in battery life. And there’s no warning about that within iOS.
Apple doesn’t give you a heads-up within iOS that the degraded batteries are going to lead to a slower phone. Because it just feels like a slow down, you’re probably more likely to replace the entire phone, rather than just update the battery. While this might be a well-meaning thing to do, they aren’t telling consumers. Which is what makes it kind of shady. Apple made the choice they thought would be best for consumers, but it’s kind of misleading when you don’t know why your phone is suddenly slower.
What Did Apple Say?
Apple’s first response was to confirm that phones with degraded batteries are slowed but without any kind of apology. They are saying that degraded batteries can cause phones to suddenly shut down they can’t handle a peak performance demand, so Apple capped the phones’ processing ability so they don’t cause an actual shutdown. This applies to iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE (and likely anything before that). All phone batteries degrade, but most phone makers just let that happen in the way that we expect: the batteries hold less of a charge in their later life unless replaced. Apple, on the other hand, tried something else that it thought was best for the overall health of phones – but users seem to widely disagree with that perspective.
Apple is now offering battery replacements internationally to owners of phones that this affects for $29. The regular replacement price is $79, so this is quite a deal. Also, this price will extend to the end of 2018. Furthermore, an iOS update will bring transparency to the issue, allowing users to easily check the status of their phone batteries and see whether degradation is leading to slower performance. Note that Apple hasn’t said that it will reverse its approach to throttling, only that you’ll have a clearer indication that it’s happening. But at least users should know that they can fix the issue with a battery swap, rather than feeling like they need to buy a new phone.
This solution might not satisfy everyone who feels like Apple has betrayed them, which is why we are seeing lawsuits. But it’s a step in the right direction towards transparency, which can hopefully allow Apple to avoid any situations like this in the future.