Avery Hartmans/Business Insider
- Apple admitted Wednesday that it has been throttling the battery power of older iPhone models.
- The smartphone company claims the action is a measure to keep older devices functional.
- Opinions on the matter have been polarizing, but Apple has also stated the practice will continue.
Social media has been abuzz for the last day amid news that Apple has been intentionally limiting the power capacity of its older iPhone models. But what does that mean, and why is that important?
Here are all the important details to know about the latest Apple stirrup.
Q: What is the current controversy surrounding Apple?
A: Apple on Wednesday admitted to throttling the battery power of its iPhones. The smartphone maker claims the action is a method of preventing older iPhones models from malfunctioning as their batteries age.
Trouble is, Apple only admitted to slowing down older iPhones after several reports had already come out accusing Apple of doing so. Over the past few months, people had seen their older iPhones become faster after the battery was replaced — and then earlier this week, data from a top iPhone benchmark developer seemed to confirm many people’s suspicions. Only then did Apple publicly address the issue.
Q: What has Apple said on the matter?
A: Apple provided Business Insider with a statement explaining the technical reasons being it limiting the power capacity of older iPhones:
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”
In other words, older iPhones tried drawing in more power than the battery was capable of, causing it to suddenly shut down. So Apple is now controlling how much power older iPhones can draw to prevent those devices from shutting down suddenly. Simply put, older batteries can’t provide as much power as newer ones.
Q: What caused Apple to finally come forward with these details?
A: Data released from the benchmark team Geekbench indicated that older iPhones serviced with battery replacements see significant increases in power performance.
Geekbench also ran the data for those older iPhones, namely iPhone 6, 6S, and 7: Compared to a typical Geekbench distribution for a full-strength phone, which should show one big peak, the team found that benchmark distributions for those three older iPhone models running a version of iOS newer than 10.2.1 had multiple peaks, suggesting a software limitation was keeping those devices to a slower processor speed. At that point, the data was clear, and Apple needed to respond.
Q: Why is this admission from Apple important?
A: There has been a longstanding conspiracy theory that older iPhones’ battery performance suffers when new iPhone models come out to encourage people to buy the latest iPhone. However, Apple claims it has only been throttling devices for about a year.
Q: What has been the public opinion on the matter?
A: Opinions vary, with some suggesting Apple’s admission is proof that consumers should not trust the company for intentionally tampering with phones to drive sales. Others suggest that Apple’s battery strategy is a to the benefit of consumers who prefer to keep their older iPhones. If the handsets are able to maintain functionality a with a lower battery power, they won’t spontaneously malfunction, causing consumers to have to spend more money on a repair or replacement anyway.
Some also suggest Apple should have been transparent with its practices so consumers could decide for themselves whether to keep their devices with a depreciated battery or purchase a new model.
Q: If my older iPhone is feeling sluggish, is there anything I can do?
A: Try replacing its battery. This whole BatteryGate issue came to the forefront after people discovered that older iPhones curiously become faster after the battery was replaced. So before you go buying a new phone, get your current phone’s battery replaced first and see if that improves things.