Apple admits slowing down older iPhones and offers battery replacement

Apple has faced international lawsuits admitting that its updates slow down older iPhones in an attempt to prevent performance issues caused by aging batteries. This features has reportedly been used for a year now and has affected the iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, and iPhone SE. The iPhone 7 was chosen to have the same feature with the release of iOS 11.2 that reached customers in December 2017. The updates for the mentioned devices were not explained to the customers at the time.

The issue was brought to the spotlight and complained about when iPhone users noticed the sluggishness of the device when performing various tasks, including typing messages. The application loading time was also noticed to have been increased. Additionally, unexpected shutting down took place even though the battery was charged sufficiently, about 30-40%. Shutting down was mostly noticed during so-called peak demands when a lot of power is required during a game or when downloading an app. After the updates that fixed these issues, the devices were noticed to slow down.

The issue was investigated by John Poole who analyzed a sample set of about 100,000 phones. The analysis showed numerous results across different versions of the operating system, but the major focus was on iOS 10.2.0 and iOS 10.2.1, the latter of which was released after the fix. He observed that the processors were limited not to perform in their full capacity, and this downside was not mentioned after the release.

The slow-down of the devices was soon determined as an intentional attempt to make clients replace their devices with news ones, and, hence, encouraged unsatisfied customers to suit Apple for non-transparent product handling policies. As a result, the US Department of Justice together with the Securities and Exchange Commission are working to determined whether any violations have been made in regard to software updates causing the undesirable decrease in the device's performance. The company is also dealing with a French probe, filed on December 27, 2017, and an investigation carried out by Italy's antitrust organization. Multiple iPhone owners have also made the company know about their disappointment and loss of trust with lawsuits.

The company apologized for disappointing its clients and stated that the slowing down was necessary to prevent devices from unexpected shutting down, which takes places to protect the electronic components of the device.

To show that Apple respects its clients and wants to earn their trust, the company has dropped the price of out-of-warranty replacement batteries from $79 to $29 for the iPhone 6 and later models. Batteries at the reduced price became available in late January 2018 and will go back up again to $79 in 2019. Moreover, Apple promised to release a software update with a feature enabling customers to monitor the health of the battery and see when its condition is affecting the device's performance.

Apple call its batteries "consumable component", which lose their effectiveness over time due to chemical aging and the number of charges over time. Moreover, hot environment and performance when the charge percentage is very low also affect the battery's aging process. By all these factors outlined, Apple means that battery replacement is necessary to have satisfying performance. However, the design of the iPhone hinders manual replacing and requires that the client delivers the devices to an Apple retailer. It is, however, possible to acquire third-party services or battery replacement kits, but these options would void the warranty of the device.

Apple is criticized for not educating its customers about lithium-ion batteries, which mistakenly makes them think that they are supposed to upgrade their devices to the latest release instead of replacing the battery to have performance back to normal. Moreover, Apple could have released its battery replacement kits, and such a strategy would not cause such a negative response from the customers who now feel deceived. However, the company argues that allowing the customer to change the battery manually could lead to more hacking-related issues.

Unfortunately, not all iPhone users are likely to be capable of getting access to the replacement batteries because not all countries or regions have Apple stores; therefore, the compensation program will remain out of reach to many Apple's customers.


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