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article imageApple admits to slowing down old iPhones to improve battery life

By James Walker     Dec 21, 2017 in Technology
Apple's admitted it deliberately slows down aging iPhones to extend their battery life. Over the past week, social media users have uncovered evidence to suggest iOS throttles performance as the battery ages. Apple's now explained the behaviour.
The slowdown effect was first revealed in a Reddit post and subsequent benchmarking of iPhone devices. Tests completed by Geekbench appear to provide conclusive evidence that iOS restricts peak processor performance on devices with deteriorating batteries.
Apple's now confirmed that iPhones really do get slower as they age. In an attempt to improve the device's overall performance, Apple limits the CPU's frequency so the battery life is extended. The company presumes that typical users are more likely to be impacted by battery life reductions than a small loss in compute performance.
In a rare statement issued to TechCrunch, Apple acknowledged the benchmark results posted by users and said it's trying to avoid cases of unexpected shutdown. The company said it introduced the "feature" after users of the iPhone 6 and 6s experienced random shutdowns. Apple was forced to offer battery replacements. The shutdown protection's now been extended to the iPhone 7 range too.
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The practice has drawn controversy from users and analysts. Apple's effectively forcing consumers to accept a slower device as their phone gets older. The company has been accused of using the "feature" as a way to drive sales of new devices. Consumers unaware that their battery is at fault could upgrade to a new device earlier after experiencing performance problems.
The slowdowns being instigated by the feature are significant in some cases. One user reported their 2014 iPhone 6's processor was running at a processor clock speed of 600MHz. After replacing the battery, iOS immediately started to set the processor clock back to its standard rate of 1400MHz. Apple had slowed the device by almost 60 percent as the battery aged.
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices," Apple said. "Lithium-ion batteries becomes 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."
Most users will not experience or notice the slowdowns during everyday use. However, the possibility that they could occur is enough to upset many iPhone owners. The controversy is currently focusing on Apple's decision not to inform its users or provide a setting to disable the behaviour. Although the company's reasons are clear, Apple could have made a better effort of letting users know why their device gets slower over time.
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