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Apple intentionally throttles older phones to prevent unexpected battery issues

Photo: MKBHD/YouTube

After a huge debate on Reddit with further analysis being conducted by Geekbench/Primate Labs, Apple has finally given an official explanation as to why their older phones suffer from performance issues.

According to Apple, they rolled out battery management software for older devices, initially targeting the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE, to deal with random shutdowns. They say that factors such as aging batteries, very cold weather, and low battery life can all result in potential shutdowns if the phone demands a lot of energy from a battery that cannot provide.

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 short, the phone’s software analyzes the battery and throttles the device to prevent it from drawing too much power, and creating the potential to shutdown unexpectedly.

They say should also help extend the battery’s life, but based on the number of complaints about this new management feature, you might be better off having the battery replaced.

The explanation does check out as many lithium batteries do become very problematic over time, but for those who are still experience very acceptable battery drain, the update is proving to be counterproductive as it is limiting their phone’s performance even with a relatively healthy battery.

It also explains why there was so much hate for iOS 11 as it seems the update was pushed out as part of iOS 11.

From Apple’s viewpoint, that’s the long and short, but some users are not convinced. Many still believe it’s their way of secretly forcing users to upgrade to later models as part of a their alleged plan of obsolescence. Whether that’s true or not is debatable, but it does not take away from the fact that lithium-ion batteries suck.

As mentioned by others, there should have been more transparency regarding how Apple handled the situation.

One suggestion that stuck out of me was potentially having a persistent notification if the phone detected significant battery degradation, rather than trying to throttle the device’s performance all in the name of trying to keep the experience as “smooth” as possible.

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