As the battery of iPhone degrades, Apple throttles the speed of your iPhone. What was once just a hunch from people who feel annoyed that their old phone “feels slow” now has hard data and an Apple statement to back it up.
Apple admitted that the iOS operating system throttles performance on some iPhones and iPads that have older batteries.
This “power management” feature first came to iPhones some time in 2016, says Apple. There are good reasons why Apple might have done this, not least because some older batteries cause iPhones to randomly shut down or restart when the phone is running at peak performance.
That doesn’t really matter, here. What matters is that Apple made the decision on behalf of users to enable this “power management.” There’s no option to turn it on or off. Worse yet, the decision was made in secret, with no official word from Apple that this “feature” even existed.
In so doing, not only did it keep a secret from customers, who now have plenty of reason to mistrust Apple about anything ever again. It took the choice away from users, and made loyal customers feel like they were being paranoid.
If Apple really wants to set this right, it has a pretty easy solution available: Make it an option in the settings. For bonus points, iOS could even send a push alert when the battery has gotten to the point where enabling that setting is urgent.
Ultimately, the result is the same: A lousier iPhone experience. But at least this way customers have some modicum of control. And even if they do ultimately decide to upgrade to a new iPhone, at least it would be a more informed purchase.
This whole debacle, unfortunately, is entirely in character for Apple, which prides itself on making strong design choices that sometimes take choice away from the user – like the still-frustrating decision to remove the headphone jack . This time, though, Apple may have stepped too far over the line. Now, it needs to take action.
iFixit teardown engineer Jeff Suovanen performed tests with iFixit employees’ phones.
Suovanen found that iPhone 6S devices that still had their original batteries (they are about two years old now) had benchmark scores that were up to 57 percent lower than the GeekBench average. Replacing the battery instantly improved the benchmark scores drastically; he saw 70 percent swings in benchmark performance after swapping the old battery for a new one.
“Everyone came back a day later and said, ‘Wow, it works so much faster,'” Suovanen told me on a phone call.
Phones that were performing far below the GeekBench average suddenly began performing above it after he swapped in a new battery.
“The takeaway is that the original batteries were causing a lot of CPU throttling, and replacing the batteries seems to have completely cured that,” Suovanen said. “We’re familiar with the fact that older batteries lose capacity, but we don’t expect it to cause a big hit on performance. This was an eye-opener for me.”