Following the attention that Apple had gotten over the past few weeks regarding the discovery of mechanisms that reduce CPU frequency on devices with aged batteries, Apple has now issued a more comprehensive statement and apology addressing the matter:

First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.

When power is pulled from a battery with a higher level of impedance, the battery’s voltage will drop to a greater degree. Electronic components require a minimum voltage to operate. This includes the device’s internal storage, power circuits, and the battery itself. The power management system determines the capability of the battery to supply this power, and manages the loads in order to maintain operations.

The statement doesn’t address any new information as to cause of the issue and confirms my initial technical explanation of the battery impedance causing the battery to no longer be able to supply a stable voltage supply during transient loads.

What we do have as new information is the various other effects that the throttling mechanism touches:

  • Longer app launch times
  • Lower frame rates while scrolling
  • Backlight dimming (which can be overridden in Control Center)
  • Lower speaker volume by up to -3dB
  • Gradual frame rate reductions in some apps
  • During the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI
  • Apps refreshing in background may require reloading upon launch

As it appears, CPU and GPU frequency reductions are not the only things done by iOS to prevent shutdowns of iPhone 6, 6S, SE and 7. The system also reduces backlight dimming (which can be overridden in settings), lowers speaker volume by up to -3 dB, disables camera flash cease app refreshing in background. All of the said performance-related features are important to the user, yet are not crucial when it comes to phone usage in general and in emergencies in particular. Apple stresses that while it reduces SoC frequency, it preserves cellular call quality, networking and GPS performance, location accuracy, captured photo and video quality, operation of sensors as well as Apple Pay. In fact, the FCC and other regulators have a set of emergency-related requirements and recommendations for wireless service providers and hardware manufacturers, there is also the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act and the iCanConnect program to provide people with disabilities a viable way of communications (including video communications during emergencies). To participate in this and similar programs a vendor probably needs to guarantee that its hardware can make the aforementioned features (and therefore emergency services) available to users at all times.

Based on the large media attention and relatively negative feedback which prompted Apple to this second official response and statement, Apple promises three key points to address consumer’s concerns:

  • Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
  • Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
  • As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

Reduction of the cost of an official battery replacement from $79 to $29 is a much welcomed change that makes this a much more attractive option considering replacement batteries only cost $10-15 depending on model; Apple’s previous pricing at $79 was extremely extortionary given the critical aspect of this service. I would now recommend any users who hesitated on replacing their iPhone batteries on their own to make use of the official service as it will have very noticeable impact both on device battery life as well as device performance (due to the nature of this story). Meanwhile, the program has been announced for the U.S. and it remains to be seen how Apple handles it in other countries, including smaller European states that barely have official Apple service providers that can handle additional workload

The way that Apple has handled disclosure on the throttling mechanisms has also been heavily criticised as users felt their devices slowing down with iOS updates and not knowing the reason. Here Cupertino promises key changes in the way that iOS handles information sharing on battery health and reporting, as well as promised improvement on performance management under degraded battery conditions. The issued time-frame for when we can expect these updates are “early 2018”.

Overall the response from Apple was the only possibly correct one to the whole fiasco, and the only one which was to be realistically expected, though it took longer than it should have to implement changes such as drastically reducing the battery replacement cost.

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  • divertedpanda - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    What do you tell people who live in states that reach the High 90s to 100s ? Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    will no one explain (or, if so, where??) how it is that the "problem" only manifests with this latest iOS?? IOW, what is in the new version that demands only a "new" iPhone?? IOW, yet again, why shouldn't the OS know which version of the hardware it is running, and if not the "latest" hardware just not run the "new" functions which cause "old" iPhones to croak??? not a hard problem, ya know. Reply
  • shadowjk - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Old iOS: Phone randomly dies/reboots. Cause: phone tried to draw more power from the battery than the battery is able to supply.
    New iOS: Phone no longer randomly dies/reboots, because the CPU is throttled so that maximum power draw from battery is limited.

    Then on top of you that, you've got the normal things influencing performance: New operating systems have more features, programmers rely on more performance from the system, websites and apps keep relying on systems getting faster and faster.

    The other day my gf asked me to help figure out why her PC was running so slow. It seemed to be constantly swapping. The web browser was consuming enormous amounts of memory. Turned out the facebook tab was using around 12 gigabytes of memory. Closing the tab and reopening facebook fixed it. She wasn't entirely happy about losing the state of that tab, but happy enough to get performance back.
    Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    I have never had an iPhone randomly reboot or shut down on me because of a degraded battery. My 6S certainly never did that. So why the heck am I suddenly being throttled in iOS 11?

    No one ever asked for this “feature”, or complained about degraded batteries.
    Reply
  • shadowjk - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    It's obvious Apple's implementation of it is flawed, and errs on the conservative side, throttling where it's not yet necessary. Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Why is this even necessary? I updated from iOS 9 to 11 and my phone just tanked. The battery life and performance were completely fine on iOS 9. I had zero issues. I didn’t experience anything related to “battery degradation” like decreased battery life or random shutdowns. Then I installed iOS 11 and now I’m getting nearly 50% performance on geekbench and my phone is stuttering like crazy. And my battery life is significantly *worse* than it was on iOS 9.

    How is any of that justifiable? Why is Apple’s throttling so ridiculously aggressive?
    Reply
  • Lau_Tech - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    Well... at least we now have some idea why android phones have been around 3000 mah for the last 3 years or so.

    I laughed out loud when I saw the list of things affected by Apple's "solution".

    if you dont work for/ or profit from apple in some way you are an utter sheep to defend them on this. Customers should not fall in love with Companies.
    Reply
  • izmanq - Monday, January 01, 2018 - link

    that is just bullshit :v and apple fanboys eat it :v Reply
  • harryseth - Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - link

    After fooling us for more than a decade, Apple is trying its best to show the positive image of their standing in the market. https://ios12guide.com/ Reply
  • harryseth - Monday, May 28, 2018 - link

    We are just few days away from the iOS 12 beta download release for developers. Apple has prepared everything for the developers only launch event. You can download iOS 12 beta for your iPhone and iPad device using our services.

    https://iostrends.com/ios-12-beta-download/
    Reply

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