iPhone performance and battery age

“While we expect battery capacity to decrease as batteries age, we expect processor performance to stay the same. However, users with older iPhones with lower-than-expected Geekbench 4 scores have reported that replacing the battery increases their score (as well as the performance of the phone),” John Poole writes for Geekbench. “What’s going on here? How many phones are experiencing decreased Geekbench 4 score?”

“First, it appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age,” Poole writes. “Second, the problem is due, in part, to a change in iOS. The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.”

“If the performance drop is due to the ‘sudden shutdown’ fix, users will experience reduced performance without notification. Users expect either full performance, or reduced performance with a notification that their phone is in low-power mode,” Poole writes. “This fix creates a third, unexpected state. While this state is created to mask a deficiency in battery power, users may believe that the slow down is due to CPU performance, instead of battery performance, which is triggering an Apple introduced CPU slow-down. This fix will also cause users to think, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace it’ not, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace its battery.’ This will likely feed into the ‘planned obsolecense’ narritive.”

Much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Seems like the “fix” has consequences, intended or not.

Apple met with Chinese regulators to discuss iPhone 6s unexpected shutdowns – February 10, 2017
Rumor: Apple may extend iPhone 6s battery replacement program to iPhone 6 – January 17, 2017
A message from Apple about 
iPhone and unexpected shutdowns – December 2, 2016
Apple offers free battery replacement for ‘very small number’ of iPhone 6s units with unexpected shutdown issue – November 21, 2016
Apple announces ‘Multi-Touch Repair Program’ for iPhone 6 Plus units with ‘Touch Disease’ – November 18, 2016


    1. Not outrageous at all, just unfortunate. All batteries have a limited life span and Apple indicates this fact. Cars also degrade over time and become less efficient. Over time cars will need many maintenance items replaced, including batteries. So what is so agregious, outrageous, or even unusual to learn this is true for phones. (And, by the way, all brands of phones have the same battery issues).

      Does every little negative piece of minutia about Apple cause you to feel outrage? Do none of Apple’s gigantic successes compensate at all for these minor negatives?

      If anything, your over-the-top, righteous indignation over learning this fact is perhaps more outrageous (or at least east, more ridiculous) than the fact itself.

      1. Throttling the CPU to alleviate pressure on the battery is a fine idea, but it needs to be explained — doing it invisibly clearly is going to suggest “older phone = slower phone,” which is just not the case.

        Personally, I’m still confused about how & why this drives sales. If my phone mysteriously slowed down after a couple of years, I would be LESS likely to replace it with the next model from that company.

    2. Trondude, the only people who will benefit from a class action lawsuit are the lawyers and a handful of class representatives who will received ~$10K or so each. Even with a win in court, the rest of the class will receive only modest compensation – perhaps a discount voucher for a new iPhone.

      Wait a bit and get the full story before you call in the lawyers. You seem way too eager to tee off on Apple based on the available information. Give the story a little time to develop.

      Personally, I am amazed how long the batteries in iPhones and iPads retain their effectiveness. I believe that Apple originally claimed a minimum of 80% capacity after 500 charge cycles. That was a substantial improvement over the state-of-the-art, and I believe that Apple may have increased that figure in recent years. If you drain your battery every day, you will reach 500 cycles in less than 1.5 years and 1000 cycles in less than 3 years. But I have an iPad 3 that is still running pretty strong after over 5.5 years of heavy use. Our family hands down old iPhones, and even the iPhone 4 (7 years old) that I recently retired was still charging and running fine. The only problem other than an outdated processor is that the mechanical home buttons on both the iPad 3 and iPhone 4 are sometimes unresponsive.

      Your experience may vary from mine. But I have no reason to attack Apple and every reason to support them.

    3. Funny…really ironic then that the BMW salesman said exactly that – “that the i3 goes into power saving mode to get you home by limiting performance, particularly acceleration and speed depending on your driving style”
      Still too limited to be useful. Unlike an iPhone.

  1. Can you imagine if your car just suddenly stopped without warning while you were somewhere out in the boondocks and then wouldn’t restart until the battery was recharged? That’s pretty outrageous, too. Which would you prefer?

  2. “… this [reduced CPU performance] state is created to mask a deficiency in battery power”

    We really don’t know if apple is intentionally reducing CPU performance to COMPENSATE for reduced battery performance.

    But if they are I’d say that describing this as an attempt to “MASK battery deficiency” is a biased and doubly misleading characterization.

    1) Some degree of CPU performance slow down, to help users with older batteries get through the day might well be a desirable trade off. If that’s apple’s intention, then calling it “masking” here is a needlessly negative spin.

    2) A battery that has aged after a few years of daily use will always store significantly less energy than a new one. That’s a fact of life with today’s battery tech. And again, calling it a “battery deficiency” is another inappropriately negative spin.

    1. Doing this without notifying the user about the ACTUAL problem IS a very poor decision, at best. At worst, it is a deliberate deception meant to drive sales.
      I lean toward assuming Apple thought: “This will be a better overall experience for the user, and why confuse them with extra info?”
      However, it is such an obviously bad decision, especially with the chance someone might figure it out and RIGHTLY feel deceived, that I can understand why people might think “Apple’s deliberately misleading me to increase the number of people who upgrade the entire device sooner.”
      In other words, I’m actually saying that Apple made a stupid choice that was intended to be benevolent.
      Others are actually saying they think Apple is smarter than I think they are. :-/
      Neither choice is a good one.

      1. I don’t disagree that it might be better to inform the user (if indeed apple is actually doing this CPU performance adjustment). But note that apple might be doing this gradually which could complicate such decisions for the user.

        I also feel pretty sure that if apple DID inform everyone that their battery was getting old and suggesting they could choose to slow down the performance for longer battery life, they would probably be accused of doing THIS to try to trump up sales.

      2. I am willing to bet that this feeling of deceit is largely being driven by the nature of the reporting and by the responses of people like Trondude and you – people who are primed to get upset about any perceived slight.

        *If* the CPU throttling allegations are accurate and *if* this throttling is intended to mask battery degradation that would otherwise result in warranty iPhone or iPad replacement, then there is an issue to pursue. If not, then the next step would be a discussion of the rationale behind the alleged throttling and the process of implementation.

        Should this throttling allegation be legitimate, perhaps all that is needed to fix this situation is for Apple to be more transparent and to provide a user option for disabling the throttling and accepting the need to recharge their devices more frequently.

        I am simply calling for a calm and rational approach to this issue. That would be far more productive than outrage and lawsuits.

        1. I’m not actually suggesting a lawsuit, as that would be a waste of time. As you say, transparency is probably the better way for Apple to approach this ******IFFFFFFFFF******** as you say, this is true. But remember that the media will blow this out of proportion and somebody ********MIGHT********* try to file a class action suit, probably Samscum lovers…..

        2. “fix […] is for Apple to be more transparent”
          Um, that’s basically what I said. Reading comprehension, much?
          I think I very clearly said that I assume it was just a stupid decision: “no point in bothering the user about this.” It seems like you mostly agree with me, so I’m not sure why you used an ad hominem attack against me.
          It isn’t a “perceived slight” – if Apple is throttling the processor without telling the user, I think that was a bad call, and the fix is (and would have been in the first place!) to be transparent about what the phone is doing, and why.
          I was somewhat amused, when thinking about this, that the people saying “Apple is doing this to jack up new device sales!” are assuming Apple is smarter (but more evil) than I think. 🙂

      3. “At worst, it is a deliberate deception meant to drive sales.”

        I never thought of that, and for good reason: iPhone and iPad upgrade cycle is longer today than it was just a couple of years ago. Ergo, because of an increasing useful life, iPhones and iPads are being replaced after longer periods, regardless of “perceived” CPU slowdown or battery decline “issues”.

        These “complaints surface every year from the same technologically ignorant. Nothing new here.

  3. All of this is FUD… without any evidence. The proof would be that replacing an older battery would restore speed. No one has reported such amazing restoration. That means all of this is BOGUS!

  4. By-the-way, there is simply no reason to do such a throttling to make the battery last longer. The batteries can be replaced when they reach the end of their lives. Lithium-Ion batteries do not drop voltages when they age, they just hold their charges for a lesser time period. . . and then they quit very rapidly. They essentially provide the same voltages throughout their charged state.

    Apple provides a battery replacement service and there are many third-party companies that do the same. End users can do it yourself as well with batteries and tools costing less than $10 on Amazon for many iPhone models with video instructions available on YouTube. One shows how to replace an iPhone 5s battery in under two minutes.

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