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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  • lilmoe - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    You *applaud* Apple for intentionally shipping defective, under-engineered products ("thinking ahead"), and allowing (lol, "allowing") iPhone users to "keep" using their degraded phones (which wasn't what they paid for) and CHARGING THEM to fix that defect?

    My God, this comment section is rich. I mean, Apple fans should get a noble prize for blind following and foot licking. I mean, I really thought I can handle that shill-train because it just couldn't get any worse, but alas, you guys never fail to amaze.

    You also managed to snark at Samsung's UNINTENTIONAL battery issues? The problems which they FULLY took responsibility for, compensated the owners, offered discounts on future products, and took a MAJOR hit on their income statement and vowed never to happen again?

    We're far and beyond strawman territory. I tip my hat to you. Bravo.
    Reply
  • beisat - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    My iPhone 6 battery seems to be really degraded, judging by what unoffical apps like battery life tell me. And one really notices it. The phone feels slow as hell, opening apps etc take for ever. I only ever charged with the offical power supply or USB, so I guess it mist be age. Will habe it repöaced now - I dont mind that batteries degrade, but not telling me how bad it was and just slowing everything down I find really quite bad. Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Beside repairing PCs, I did iPhones and iPads as well (battery, display replacements, etc.). A new battery only costs about $5 and replacing it only takes 5 minutes. $79 + tax is a rip-off. $29 is still too much but the bigger problem is the iOS 11.2. Any iPhone and iPad updated to that version or later would suffer in performance not only from the software throttles the Soc but also from the battery monitoring of that software itself.

    Apple's recent statements are pure bullshits. If the battery degrades, it can only hold less charge. Say an old battery can only hold 50% charge compared to a new one when full, isn't it the same as a new battery with 50% charged?

    I accidentally updated my iPhone 6s just couple weeks ago. Now I can only hope those lawsuits come thru to force Apple allows firmware downgrade. Or I WILL NEVER buy another Apple product again.
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Apple faces avalanche of lawsuits over deliberate obsolescence of iPhones

    https://www.rt.com/business/414464-apple-more-suit...
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Apple faces avalanche of troll posts by parties deliberately attempting to influence public opinion / stock price. More news at 11:00. Reply
  • repoman27 - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    No, it isn’t the same. Internal resistance increases and open cell voltage decreases. It shifts the whole curve (see Andrei’s previous post).

    Also, what makes you think iOS 11.2 targets iPads with reduced battery life?

    So how much did the shop you worked for charge the customer for a battery replacement? How much did they pay you? Did you both profit reasonably from that type of repair?
    Reply
  • sonny73n - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Blah blah the Apple rat. Sure the voltage will decrease but that's the same with new battery when amp decreases. A dead new battery has no voltage. You should go back to school.

    I own my own shop and I make enough to buy me anything I want.
    Reply
  • shadowjk - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    A dead new battery without voltage is dead and shouldn't be used again, unless you want explosions in your future.

    The issue Apple has encountered is something like this example:

    New full battery under no load: 4.20V.
    New full battery under 2Amp load: 4.17V
    New full battery under 4Amp load: 4.15V

    Old full battery under no load: 4.20V
    Old full battery under 2Amp load: 3.9V
    Old full battery under 4Amp load: 1.5V (too low, phone shuts down).

    So their solution was to limit power draw to 2Amp (hypothetical).

    The proper solution would've been to either make the iphone thicker so they could fit in a battery twice as big, or, counterintuitively, use a battery with lower capacity that is optimized for providing more power.
    Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    My iPhone 6s had zero problems on iOS 9. Battery life was same as when I first got it. Zero slowdown. Then I updated and suddenly I’m being throttled? I had no shutdowns! I never had any instability! And to top it off iOS 11 is a buggy stutterfest that drains battery life. Reply
  • serendip - Friday, December 29, 2017 - link

    Safer to use only the 40-80% charge range on any new phone to keep the battery healthy for longer. Higher states of charge mean higher voltage while draining too low causes the cell to go near the voltage limit. Both cases aren't optimal. I usually use my phone until it drops to 40% charge, then I recharge to only 80% while keeping the phone cool. It also helps I've got a huge 5000 mAh battery.

    Of course, Apple could have used larger batteries so a degraded battery still can put out enough voltage but that's another story.
    Reply

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