Apple last week admitted that it was indeed slowing down iPhones based on the performance of their batteries. After multiple lawsuits and investigations by foreign governments unsurprisingly followed, Apple today published a letter of apology and offered a concession to affected iPhone users.
Starting in late January 2018 and continuing through December 2018, Apple will offer $29 battery replacements for any iPhone 6 or later iPhone model, which represents a discount of $50 off the normal price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement. Apple will also release an iOS update in “early 2018” to provide additional battery health details, including a notification that the battery no longer supports peak processor performance.
As for the apology, here’s the pertinent section:
We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize. There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making.
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.
Benchmarks provided by Primate Labs’ Geekbench diagnosed the initial issue and suggested that the scope of device slowdowns could be significant: A device scoring 2,500 points on the Geekbench test on day one might score only 1,000 or 1,500 points after a year or two of use. Apple previously suggested that performance would only be modestly affected in edge use cases calling for peak processor utilization, but some civil suits and criminal investigations have suggested that Apple’s actions constituted deliberate planned obsolescence.
A knowledgebase article discussing the effects of battery aging upon iPhone processor performance has been added to Apple’s website under the name “iPhone Battery and Performance.” It notes that in extreme cases, “the user may notice effects such as:
- 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.”