Tara from MacFixIt Australia asked:
Do you think Apple deliberately slowed down the performance of the older iPhones?
Sorry, but everybody following the story knows what happened and that the question is wrong. Rather you should have asked it to be technically accurate.
Apple was having the problem that iPhones with older batteries shut down under load, while the battery gauge showed that it was still 30% or more charged. I was hit by this myself multiple times listening to podcasts (over cellular), on bluetooth headphones while it was relatively cold outside.
So Apple decided to throttle devices meeting certain conditions to avoid this unfortunate shutdown. Apple solved the issue as they always do: they gather a lot of data, „captured“ iPhones that were being sent in by people like me to have an AppleCare exchange for this reason, and then they devised a technical solution that would limit the number of shutdowns.
What they didn’t do is to properly communicate their conclusions and decided upon solution, maybe hoping that most people would move on to newer phones and thus the problem going away by itself. When somebody noticed that their iPhone suddenly performed like new, after having gotten a new battery, the whole story came to light.
Now about my opinion: since we cannot do anything about Lithion-Ion batteries having a limited life span and Apple decided to not have user-replaceable batteries, there need to be several things happening:
- Users need to be made aware right from the start that they can only charge their new iPhone a limited number of times. Also this information needs to be easily accessible via the system information facilities.
- When batteries have reached the end of their useful life the user should be asked whether they want to continue to use it at degraded performance, get an inexpensive replacement battery or get a discount for trading in their phones (so that the battery can be recycled)
Apple seems to be doing all of this now. My opinion is that it should not have needed such a media uproar for them to being proactive in that regard. By waiting until “somebody complained“ the damage is now done that people tend to think Apple was doing it intentionally, to avoid service costs (from people calling AppleCare and getting devices replaced) and to leave this thorn in peoples side that might cause them to upgrade to new devices sooner.
Long story short: Apple should have acted more openly and sooner and communicated modifications they did to users phones (to their benefit) unmisunderstandably.
Also published on Medium.