Should Apple replace aging iPhone batteries for free instead of throttling processor speed?

“Apple admitted on Wednesday that it cuts the processing power of older iPhones with aging batteries in an effort to keep them running as smoothly as possible,” Todd Haselton writes for CNBC. “Apple has a reason for this, but it’s the wrong approach. Rather than intentionally slowing devices to keep them from shutting down (as the company explained to TechCrunch in a story on Wednesday), it should do right by its customers who expect their pricey iPhones to last more than a couple of years.”

MacDailyNews Take: Note the use of the word “pricey.”

“Here’s what Apple told CNBC on Wednesday: ‘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,'” Haselton writes. “But here’s another idea. If Apple is going to drop the performance of a smartphone because of poor battery life, it should replace an iPhone’s battery at no charge. ”

“Sure it’s an expensive undertaking for Apple,” Haselton writes, “but a user should be guaranteed a certain level of performance for the lifetime of a product, until Apple stops supporting it with new software.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Lithium-ion batteries are to mobile devices as tires are to vehicles.

Is Todd demanding that BMW et al. offer free tires replacements during the lifetime of the vehicle? Of course not. Because it’s a stupid, untenable suggestion.

As with your car’s tires, which are not covered in even the most comprehensive vehicle service arrangements, your iPhone batteries are your responsibility. Normal wear and tear. Apple, if they should do anything, should make this point exceedingly clear and even include an alert on devices to inform users that states something like:

Your battery has just completed its 500th charging cycle and, to maintain peak performance, needs to be replaced. Your battery is designed to retain up to 80% of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles. Your warranty covers a defective battery, but it doesn’t cover battery wear from normal use. For your convenience, your device will continue operating at reduced processor speeds until replacement can be performed.

• If you’re covered under AppleCare+, we’ll replace your battery at no charge if it retains less than 80 percent of its original capacity.
• If your iPhone needs battery replacement and it’s not covered, the service fee is $79.
• If your iPhone has another power issue, we’ll give you the repair price after we determine the cause.

The three bullet points above are exactly Apple’s policy today.

Information on how to maximize your iPhone’s battery life and lifespan is here.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

SEE ALSO:
Apple confirms iPhones with older batteries will take hits in performance – December 20, 201
iPhone performance and battery age – December 18, 2017
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

35 Comments

    1. I’ve had batteries replaced in my iPhone. It’s not a big deal, and I it never crossed my mind blame Apple for the state of battery lifespans; theirs are as good as Lithium batteries get. But I do live in a city that has places to go for this. I understand why many that do not have the convenience that I do may find battery replacement a big hassle. But every iPhone buyer ought to be smart enough to understand the nature of battery degradation over time, and that they would likely to need a 3rd party to replace the battery should it wear out.

      I think a good solution for Apple would have been to display a battery degradation warning on the iPhone when the processing throttling was invoked by the OS, with a recommendation to replace the battery for best performance. Apple engineers tried to do a good thing, but they just didn’t take it far enough to alert users to what was happening with their iPhones.

  1. I agree with MDNs Take. What Apple is doing wrong is keeping their actions secret and not empowering users to make their own decisions, take a performance hit to extend their current battery use or just bite the bullet and pay the $79 for a new battery.

    The new battery isn’t that sweet of a deal. I paid the $79 to replace the battery on both my wifes’ 5S and my 5S. Apple actually just issued replacement phones from their service inventory. Neither one ever functioned properly. My wife’ kept loosing its proverbial mind and had to be restored after every third charge. My present thought is a third party replacement would be preferable, because you get your same phone back and it costs less.

    We finally gave up on the replacement phones but Apple didn’t lose anything on the deal. We wound up replacing both phones with SEs. We like the form factor.

    1. Several times when our phones have had technical issues, the Apple store will provide a replacement (which may be refurbished).
      On Apple’s website they state that battery replacement can take 3-5 days to complete. You can send it in or take it to a store.
      Did they provide you a refurbished phone right away or send you it after a few days? Once you started having issues with the replacement phone did you take it back to Apple?
      I’m personally okay with refurbished phones since you can just swap it out immediately. But the new unit must be working properly and you should have some warranty if they are going to do that.

  2. Amen to no free lunch. All the Tennie Bopper Whiners have NO CLUE about where all this Apple tech originated.

    These self righteous clowns need to go back to basics and appreciate where all this tech came from.

    Know your Apple history.

  3. I haven’t had any signifant battery issues or slowdowns on my iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 9.x. Phone runs great!

    Happy I do not upgrade just because their is an update to iOS. My best guess is Apple slows down everyone’s iPhone equally, that is, based upon model number rather than on actual battery condition. Years ago I updated a day or two after a new version of OS X or iOS was released. In more recent years, I am more inclined to wait. Especially since the upgrades seem to have more bugs than in previous years.

  4. I do agree Apple should have let users know their smartphone processors were being throttled and inform them to replace the batteries for $79 if the users weren’t happy with the slowdowns. Just let consumers know in advance that this sort of thing will happen in the future and Apple won’t have to claim responsibility for replacing those batteries and also won’t have to singled out for hiding that they’re throttling their smartphone’s processor speeds.

  5. Why hold Apple to a different standard to every other company that makes mobile devices with lithium-ion batteries that have the same limitations – Apple batteries don’t last any less time or charging cycles that any others – probably are better with more intelligent energy management software – but their performance is limited by physics like everyone else’s batteries – $79 for a replacement battery isn’t outrageous if needed, around 15% of typical upfront phone cost – they’re making a mountain out of a molehill – I’d rather my older phone slow down than crash all the time!

  6. I agree with the MDN take on this. Further, if the phone is out of warranty there are authorized repair professionals who will replace the battery cheaper and often faster.

    What do the Android competitors do? Do they provide software that addresses this issue or do they simply let the phones shut down, etc.? Why no reporting on this?

    1. My Galaxy S2 is probably old enough those subroutines were not yet written for the device. Battery got old so shut down at about 15%. Easily remedied by eventually buying a replacement battery popping off the back and changing it out. Can’t say what others do with Android devices that have user inaccessible batteries. I was able however to extend the life of the older battery by toggling the low-power mode there while waiting for my new battery to arrive.

  7. Another option might be to let the user decide what to do. People who need their phone to last all day might prefer to have it slow down to conserve power. Other people might prefer to charge it more frequently and maintain original performance for a shorter time period.

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