Apple has come under a lot of scrutiny for slowing down older iPhones which had degraded batteries. The company is facing a number of lawsuits in the US and now ot has testified in from of a Canadian parliamentary committee.
As well as Apple, John Pool from GeekBench who was one of the first people to report that Apple was slowing down older handsets with poor batteries. You can see part of Apple’s official statement below.
First, Apple would never intentionally do anything to shorten the life of any Apple product or degrade the user experience in order to drive customer upgrades. Apple’s entire philosophy and ethic is built around the goal of delivering cutting-edge devices that our customers love. Our motivation is always the user.
Second, Apple’s actions related to performance of iPhones with older batteries were designed specifically to prevent some older models from unexpectedly shutting down under certain circumstances. And we communicated this publicly. Let me explain.
In order for a phone to function properly, the electronics must be able to draw power from the battery instantaneously. But, as lithium-ion batteries age, their ability to hold a charge diminishes, and their ability to provide power to the device decreases. Very cold temperatures can also negatively affect a battery’s performance. A battery with a low state of charge may also cause the device to behave differently. These things are characteristics of battery chemistry that are common to lithium-ion batteries used in all smartphones, not just Apple’s.
If power demands cannot be met, the iPhone is designed to shut down automatically in order to protect the device’s electronics from low voltage.
We do not want our customers to experience interruptions in the use of their iPhones, whether that is making an emergency phone call, taking a picture, sharing a post, or watching the final minutes of a movie. To address the issue of unexpected shutdowns, we developed software that dynamically manages power usage when, and only when, an iPhone is facing the risk of an unexpected shutdown. This power management software helps keep iPhones on when they otherwise might turn off – it does this by balancing the demand for power with the available supply of power.
The sole purpose of the software update in this case was to help customers to continue to use older iPhones with aging batteries without shutdowns – not to drive them to buy newer devices.
Third, Apple regularly provides software updates for iPhone and our other devices. These software updates can include everything from new features, to bug fixes, to security updates. Whenever we issue a software update, we include a ReadMe note which has a description of the contents of the update for the customer to review prior to the software installation. In the case of iOS 10.2.1, we stated that it “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.”
It will be interesting to see what happens with the complimentary committee and also what happens with the various lawsuits against Apple.
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