Apple now facing 8 lawsuits over throttling processors in iPhones with aging batteries

“Apple is now facing no less than eight lawsuits over claims it artificially slowed down iPhones with aging batteries,” Jeff Gamet reports for The Mac Observer. “The cases were filed in U.S. Federal Courts in California, Illinois, and New York, and all are pushing for class action status.”

“The first cases were filed in California and Illinois just after Apple confirmed the iPhone SE, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 7 all experience slower performance as their batteries age,” Gamet reports. “Apple made a change in iOS 10.2.1 in early 2017 to address a problem where iPhone batteries that no longer hold a full charge would spontaneously reboot when processor usage spiked, demanding more power than was available. The company fixed the problem by spreading out the processor requests that otherwise caused a spike to spread out over several cycles, effectively slowing down the phone.”

Gamet reports, “The big issue in the end was that Apple didn’t tell users what it was doing.”

Read more in the full article here.

“A similar case was lodged in an Israeli court on Monday, the newspaper Haaretz reported,” Paresh Dave reports for Reuters. “The problem now seen is that users over the last year could have blamed an aging computer processor for app crashes and sluggish performance – and chose to buy a new phone – when the true cause may have been a weak battery that could have been replaced for a fraction of the cost, some of the lawsuits state.”

“Chris Hoofnagle, faculty director for the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said in an email that Apple may not have done wrong,” Dave reports. “‘We still haven’t come to consumer protection norms’ around aging products, Hoofnagle said. Pointing to a device with a security flaw as an example, he said, ‘the ethical approach could include degrading or even disabling functionality.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, regardless of the merit of any of these claims, Apple should have clearly told users what was happening.

Apple should have made this point exceedingly clear by including 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 publicly-stated (i.e. not secret) policy today.

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

SEE ALSO:
Apple tarnished their brand with clandestine iPhone battery management and processor throttling – December 27, 2017
Should Apple replace aging iPhone batteries for free instead of throttling processor speed? – December 21, 2017
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

58 Comments

  1. Good! I’m glad Apple is going to court over this. They deserve it.

    Every consumer should understand that a battery wears out over time. This is common knowledge. But for Apple to intentionally slow the iOS device down, even if it’s for a good reason like prolonging battery life, is wrong when you don’t tell the consumer what you’re going to do to their device.

    And this is going to haunt Apple when they deny planned obsolescence the next time it comes up.

    Also, when Apple talks about how environmentally green they, this will haunt them. It makes them look like they are trying to make consumers buy new iOS devices, which I’m sure they are.

    Basically it’s planned obsolescence by using the cover story of “we are doing it to help you out with your battery life…”

        1. Automatic throttling is built-in to Android. The software developer can set what level is acceptable for his app. . . but the BATTERY can still shut down the device if too much power is being drafted from the battery.

          1. From what you say, that app would either

            a) perform the same as it did when the device was new or..
            b) crash the device, indicating the device is failing.
            c) The user can choose a lower power mode, until the device is replaced or fixed.

    1. DAKWTAD, you cannot have it both ways!

      By prolonging the effective lifetime of iOS devices, Apple is slowing the rate that iPhones are discarded as inoperable. Some people keep them longer, others pass them on to other family members. Plus, Apple has a great recycling program when iOS devices reach EOL. So your comment on the environmental aspects is total hogwash.

      As far as planned obsolescence goes, you are once again barking up the wrong tree. I was using an iPhone 4 until about six months ago when a newer hand-me-down became available. My family has two iMacs from 2007 and 2008 – a decade old and still kicking! Apple products last longer. Apple has long demonstrated leadership in battery lifetime and power management. And the people who are complaining about this are predominantly lawyers looking for a big class action score. Most people are clueless about the technology or the implications of battery/power management strategies. Honestly, this whole issue is getting skewed way out of proportion and twisted by those with either the potential for financial gain or a grudge against Apple.

      I disagreed with the tone of your post, as well as you interpretation of Apple’s motives. You are a well-known santi-Apple source on this forum, so your claims are subject to skepticism.

  2. I just downloaded the geek bench app to test my iPhone 6s’s processor speed and yes it’s been throttled. It’s at least a third slower in both single and multi core than a fully functioning 6s. I understand why Apple is doing this, but it still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. It’s my iPhone, I paid for it. Apple please let me decide how I maintain my property. I find this new Apple a little too big brother for my liking.

      1. Wake up! My point was that I’d like to choose how to maintain my property, Apple could have sent me a notification saying that my battery was compromised and would I like my processor to be slowed down? Or would I prefer to replace my battery? Or do nothing? P.s I don’t want to sue Apple, so please get off your high horse.

      1. You dope, what led you to that conclusion? No I downloaded the app because my phone is noticeably slower. My point was that I’d like to choose how to maintain my property, Apple could have sent me a notification saying that my battery was compromised and would I like my processor to be slowed down? Or would I prefer to replace my battery? Or do nothing?

        1. Fair enough. Apple should have been more transparent in its power management strategy when it rolled out the iOS update last year. Other than failing to spoon-feed the masses with this information and failing to provide greater power management control to users under Settings, however, Apple did nothing wrong, IMO. Given The fact that Apple publicly disclosed its policies, I fail to see the merits of the class action lawsuits.

          I would be delighted to see equal treatment for all vendors of consumer electronics. I have experienced premature battery failure on a number of products from other vendors. The battery replacements were all more expensive than Apple’s previous $79 battery replacement, and roughly triple Apple’s new $29 discounted price. And those other vendors tend to change their battery form and fit every few years to discourage battery replacements and to make them more expensive and more difficult to find.

          All things considered, Apple kicks butt, as usual.

    1. You do grasp the concept that GeekBench is a processor/GPU-intensive app that is one of the apps that WILL put stress on those portions of the phone that the algorithm in the Battery Management system is DESIGNED to actually throttle? Geek Bench App intentionally runs the processor and GPU at the FULL SPEED IT, which NATURALLY draws as much power from a depleted battery as possible to DO THE TEST. Ergo, those tests will automatically be spread out over more cycles to KEEP THE BATTERY COOLER and prevent the BATTERY from automatically shutting down your phone. It means that Geek Bench CAUSES the very condition it tests for.

      It’s Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle for iPhones. The mere act of GEEK BENCH TESTING changes the speed condition of the iPhone!

  3. Many folks have a very false picture of what’s going on here.

    This is NOT a general slow down of older phones. It’s a slowdown only of PEAK performance in a very specific set of circumstances.

    Benchmark tests are demanding peak performance THROUGHOUT the tests so they will maximize the perceived effect of throttling. However they’re not representative of what most of us perceive when using the phones throughout the day. We come up against peak demands very infrequently.

    I give tech support to a great number of people with older phones. None of them are experiencing any perceived slow down. Renee Ritchie of iMore did a panel on his Vector podcast on these throttling issues and they reported that iPhone user satisfaction for older phones has absolutely retained their very high levels of satisfaction, which supports my claim about perceived slowdown.

    Further, this has not been a secret. Apple reported this when they fixed the shutdown bug about a year ago. They have also been reporting on the need to replace batteries within settings.

    I do agree that more obvious reporting on this would be better, and expect them to do so now.

    1. Any degredation of performance is likely to piss off people. Firstly, if this degredation of performance could have been avoided by not installing the software Apple should have informed consumers if this consequence. Secondly, Apple could have offered consumers with older iOS devices the appropriate security ipdates without affecting the performance of older iOS devices.

      Apple is guilty of laziness and indifference at best, and willful neglect and harm at worst. Nevertheless, this in an embarrassment that Apple could have and should have avoided. But, that’s Tim Cook for you. Now Apple has to spend its cash on lawyers’ fees instead of R&D, recruiting, etc.

      Apple shit the bed and it’s a shame.

    2. At least for me, I disagree with your assessment. After upgrading to IOS 11, there was a distinct slow down across the board in my 6Plus’ operation. Also, battery charge life took a hit too. Lag included, camera lag when opening the camera app and taking a picture. Also, lag when opening other apps was obvious too. After replacing the battery recently, lag disappeared. Transparency would have been the best approach. I don’t mind buying a battery. However, I do mind wondering why my phone’s operation has suddenly slowed down from IOS 10 days.

      1. I know that some folks HAVE perceived a slow down. Based on both apple’s reporting on this and several other reports, I believe that if such a slowdown is experienced ALL THE TIME then its not related to apple’s battery fix.

        Please read John Grubers blog post on this:
        daringfireball.net/linked/2017/12/22/glenn-iphone-slow

            1. I think you’ve misunderstood. Your iPhone is only throttled when it has to operate at peak performance, which doesn’t happen very often in your normal daily use. Most of the time your phone isn’t throttled. If your iPhone is slow all the time you have some other problem and you should look into that.

            2. “I demand my device function at PEAK performance as if I just bought it” – applecynic

              “Your iPhone is only throttled when it has to operate at peak performance…” -Mistunderstood

              Most respectfully,
              And never the twain shall meet… 🙂

            3. You’re not getting it. Your iPhone doesn’t operate at peak performance very often. Even brand new out of the box. You are losing your shit about something that has almost no meaningful real world impact. I read some of the posts here on this subject going back a while. Dude, you were posting on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. You need to examine your life.

            4. Does. Not. Matter.
              When the battery is new it does, and when it’s old it does less. I want to know to fix it, not have Apple hide it.

              Anyway, the point is moot, and Apple is coming clean and making amends. Amends that back up what I and others have been saying.

            5. So, you admit Apple deliberately reduced performance and without user approval. Congratulations for admitting the obvious. Now Apple can expect a flurry of lawsuits.

        1. Read the article Fred. Peak throttling is not a problem for most users. Yes, old hardware doesn’t work as well. When you think about all the 3rd party stuff people install, with multiple OSes, multiple older hardware configs, its a wonder it works as well as it does! 10 years ago I was using a Treo. This is a first world problem. And BTW, behavior will not be changed by frivolous class action suits.

          1. I was using the Treo ten years ago also. Great phone for its day IMO.

            I was waiting for apple to supports apps. Which they did with their next iPhone, and I got it immediately

    3. I don’t think people have a false picture at all. Apple has slowed down iPhones without telling customers, why is that? If Apple is acting in the best interests of the customer then why not tell them? What are they frightened of? Now I’ve found out what Apple is doing I will be replacing my battery, if I wanted a slower model I would have bought a cheaper phone. Apple needs to be more transparent.

    4. Renee Ritchie…Defender of the Faith…
      Panel? “I think pi ought to be equal to exactly 3!”

      The throttling without informing WAS a secret. Period!
      “You know there son, your battery ‘may’ need servicing if you see this warning”

    5. Thanks petep, I’ve been pounding this same issue on multiple forums but it’s like nailing jello to the wall with some of these people. They refuse to grasp that John Poole found it only because he looked for it. . . and his Geek Bench found it in spades because it is a processor/GPU-intensive app that stresses the system far beyond almost any other app they may ever run, No wonder it is reporting scores far less than what a brand new iPhone of the same model with a new battery once reported when he tests with a chemically depleted old battery now with the new algorithm to LOOK for exactly the type of app GEEK BENCH does and then to spread the peak demand out over TIME?! How do you think SPEED is calculated. . . with a time factor! Of course a speed test will report it’s slower!

  4. This all would be so much easier if Apple made Jony put access to a replaceable battery in every iPhone. Since most of them are in cases nobody would see the seam, and we could all just swap out our battery just like other phones.

  5. I’m with these class action lawsuits. Apple should have NOT slowed down my iPhone 7 without telling me or better, ASKING me.

    This is effing BS. And I’ve already been to my local Apple store asking them if they can return it to its original speed. No way I was told.

    We shall see…

  6. Apple deserves this. When big brother decides to change your device settings, and especially if they force you into it with no option to change the setting or revert to the earlier OS version, then Apple is in the wrong.

    Of course this is nothing new. Apple has acted like their walled garden cannot be escaped for quite some time now. Unfortunately trust is difficult to earn back if you treat customers like this, they will leave. Or they will stop upgrading like Pavlov’s dogs here on MDN

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