Why Apple’s response to iPhone ‘batterygate’ is brilliant

This week, “Apple issued an apology for miscommunication about this issue and has also announced that during 2018 people will be able to replace their iPhone battery for $29,” Zynath Investment writes for Seeking Alpha. “This is a great deal for the consumers as iPhone batteries from reliable sources cost upwards of $25 plus labor.”

“However, this is also a great deal for Apple. While it may take a hit on the discounted battery replacement program, it will likely earn that and more through the increased traffic to its retail locations,” Zynath Investment writes. “At worst, Apple will be breaking even on this reduced battery replacement program. However, it does mean that the consumer will have to visit the Apple retail store and hang around there while the battery is being replaced. This is an excellent opportunity for Apple employees to market to the consumer other Apple products or even offer them a discount on a new iPhone rather than having to wait around while the battery is replaced on their old one.”

“Ask yourself this, where can you go to replace a Samsung or an HTC battery?” Zynath Investment writes. “The fact of the matter is that Apple is offering a useful service that will allow users to prolong the use of their existing phone and in the process it is getting an extra opportunity to market to this consumer.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We actually did exactly that this past week. As friends and readers asked about an iPhone performing slowly, we recommended Apple’s battery replacement or, you know, since you’re going to the Apple Store anyway, how about treating yourself to an amazing new iPhone X that we love so much? It’s a notch above, you know.

In more cases than not, a new iPhone sale was made vs. a battery replacement for an old iPhone 6.

SEE ALSO:
Australian lawyers to launch largest-ever class action against Apple over iPhone ‘batterygate’ – December 29, 2017
The most annoying things about Apple’s iPhone ‘batterygate’ apology – December 29, 2017
iFixit discounts iPhone battery replacement kits as Apple cuts prices, apologizes for the confusion – December 29, 2017
15 class action lawsuits filed against Apple for throttling iPhones with aging batteries – December 29, 2017
Apple apologizes for poor communication about iPhone batteries and performance; slashes battery replacement cost from $79 to $29 – December 28, 2017
No, Apple’s throttling of iPhones with aging batteries is not planned obsolescence – December 28, 2017
Apple execs face jail in France after lawsuit over slowing down iPhones – December 28, 2017
Korea seeks explanation from Apple for slowing down devices without warning – December 28, 2017
Apple now facing 8 lawsuits over throttling processors in iPhones with aging batteries – December 27, 2017
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, 2017
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

95 Comments

  1. Ok MDN, you’re being a little too fanboy, even for me. No, I will not buy an iPhone X, or upgrade to iOS 11. I like my iPhone 7 Plus (Jet Black, 256 Gb, you know, the one you guys bragged about until October), and when it needs a battery, I’ll just get it one.

    1. So you’re a fool who is happy to run around with security issues. That’s the very definition of dumb!

      I tell you what, why don’t you pack up your iPhone and return it?

      Why? Because you’re too stupid to own one.

      1. STFU, we don’t all want / need to upgrade to the latest OS just because apple says we should. My wife’s 6 plus performs like a piece of sh!t sing she accidentally accepted Apples constant nags to upgrade to iOS11. Every iOS update slows down the devices, I’ve witnessed it on many iPhones and ipads. If Apple were any good at software dev, they would patch older OS versions like other companies do with their OS’s, for critical security issues. Instead, they are a$$holes pushing major OS version upgrades every year, which is really idiotic.

    2. I can understand not wanting to upgrade a 7 Plus. My 6 Plus is definitely in need of a replacement. But not upgrading to iOS 11? Hey- I’ll trade. (Better go over to your fridge and check the dates- they matter…)

      1. Problem is you go to Apple when these shutdowns start, perfectly willing to get a new battery if need be, only to have them test it and say the battery is fine. This was a lie they chose to sell to the public. Store technicians were told to communicate this. Why? Money. Many of these phones were covered by AppleCare. If they admit the battery is failing or underperforming, it raises questions in how those phones were sold, and how AppleCare was positioned. Most who buy AppleCare are told they are covered for 2 years…period.

        As a consumer I can accept that batteries wear out, and I’m willing to bear the cost of that…if I know it going in. Instead they (all manufacturers, not just Apple) encourage you to think a battery in a new phone will last at least the two years the phone is under warranty. Apple has a PR problem here that will likely cost them dearly, but it won’t just be Apple. Expect more class action suits and more up front transparency about batteries and expected life.

        1. Funny you say that. My last iPhone was a 3GS. When a firmware update went bad (using a Mac) I went to the Apple Store to get it looked at. I even had AppleCare. The phone was randomly locking up or rebooting. First thing they did was shine a light in the orifices and tell me the phone was water damaged and flat out refused to service it. Funny thing was, a jailbreak fixed it!

          That was my second personal impression that led me to devout Apple cynicism. The policy ones are more impactful.

          Anyway, it came to pass I got a check for $304 as a member of a class action because Apple settled on the bogus water sensor case.

          Upperhanded and full of manure. Watch these guys.

          1. Having worked at Apple a few times, once at the Genius Bar fixing phones and Macs, I can tell you why that happened with your 3GS. Money. It simply cost too much money to get to the true root of the problem 100% of the time. Instead, they use a process of eliminating common symptoms first. If they find a liquid sensor tripped, end of exam…the attitude is: Even if that’s not the true issue here, it’s a deal breaker since water damage is not covered.

            This is risky to Apple as a determination that water sensors are not reliable would essentially void all previous judgements they made based on water sensors. But like any business they weigh the risks and potential losses against the cost of reality and doing it the right way and pick the least costly route. They are banking on a fraction of users affected coming forward to claim what is awarded. It’s very much like when they would give you a printer (after rebate) when you bought a Mac. This was possible since only about 30% of the people actually completed the rebate process.

    3. Hear hear, Allen! Why on earth does Apple not continue providing security updates to older versions of iOS? They do with Macs because people often deliberately keep them at lower versions for performance and compatibility reasons.

      1. Now what’s really funny about this true statement is that even MS provides security updates for obsolete operating systems. How many prior versions of iOS does Apple still push out security updates for?

      2. To be fair, they do…but it’s often only the most severe security flaws that get addressed, and it’s often only as long as supporting devices are still under warranty. Apple’s attitude is they release a new OS every year and if one wants to stay current and have all the latest security benefits they should upgrade assuming they have a device that supports the new OS. While rare, if they leave behind a device that that is still potentially under warranty (most recently the 5c), they do continue to release security updates until the 2 year point from which they stop selling the device.

        I’m expecting a class action suit (perhaps there’s one already?) about their practice of updating an OS and refusing to authorize installs of a previous OS. Say you have an iPhone 6 and update to iOS 11, then realize it’s super slow and you want iOS 10 back. Sorry, Apple stops authorizing older OS installs almost immediately after releasing a new OS. Even worse, you go in for support are told your issue is software related and the resolution is an erase and OS install. They won’t/can’t put your current OS back on the device. They will only allow the latest and greatest to be installed. Forced upgrades. Then they brag about iOS adoption rates!

    1. The “whiners,” as you call them, claim that Apple could have, and therefore should have, designed the iPhone and its batteries so that it handled peaks in current draw exactly the same with old batteries as with new ones. They demand that the device handle those peaks identically, although they do seem willing to concede that the smooth decline of the charge from 100% to 0% may be faster with an old battery.

      Apple did not do that. It couldn’t do it. It can’t do it. Nobody can do it. That battery behavior is impossible under the physical laws regulating lithium-ion chemistry. As well blame God, Mother Nature, and the Universe as Apple for that unfortunate fact. No battery using technology available commercially today can deliver the demanded performance. Period. Full Stop. End of Story.

      So, the real question is “How should Apple design its devices to handle that unalterable fact of nature and gracefully degrade performance as the battery ages?”

      There were two choices. Nobody here or anywhere else has suggested a third alternative. Neither choice allows power users to use their device for an appreciable period of time at full speed with an old battery. To repeat, that would violate the laws of physical science, which dictate that the peak output of lithium-ion batteries declines with age.

      EITHER the device can reboot and/or shut down entirely when the available current drops behind the present demand, OR the device can slow down until the demand matches the available current. In neither case can the device run at full speed as if it were new. Under one choice, it remains available for less-demanding tasks, like making emergency phone calls. Under the other choice, it doesn’t.

      There is a similar tradeoff built into most computers. When the CPU overheats due to heavy usage that overtaxes the fans, the device slows down or shuts down entirely. It does not just keep handling the excessive load indefinitely… or even to the point that might damage the device. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has sued over that.

      I absolutely agree that Apple should have better communicated the fact that it had chosen to have its OS level peaks in usage that exceeded an old battery’s capabilities… rather than let peak usage just shut the device down. Failing to inform was a serious mistake, for which Apple has apologized. However, it has not admitted that it was a mistake to have chosen load leveling over random unexpected shutdowns.

      Having experienced the latter problem (as most of you probably haven’t), I agree with Apple’s choice. Anybody who was ever stranded someplace without a working cellphone would probably also agree.

      Nevertheless, the press and public are acting as if Apple deliberately made lithium-ion chemistry what it is. I haven’t seen such an outbreak of mass delusion since the presidential primaries in both parties.

      1. The problem, according to Apple is not applicable to the iPad since it has larger capacity batteries, so there IS a physical/chemical solution.

        With Apple going for such thinness on the iPhone, it is they, not anyone else, attempting to violate the laws of physics and attempted to cover it up with throttling.

        So the “third” alternative would have been to design it right in the first place so that it could maintain performance over a reasonable life of product. Or don’t brag about performance, stick to good old boring, “Just Works”. Be a Cadillac, don’t pass as a Lambo.

        Which begs the question… does a throttled iPhone restore performance when plugged in? How about with a battery pack attached? I don’t have an iPhone to test, just iPad Pros.

        1. I was going to skip this comment in an abundance of holiday cheer, but on reflection…

          Why is somebody who doesn’t even own an iPhone telling those of us who do how we should prefer our devices to perform?

          1. Because I’m a consumer, and thus a prospective customer. They are offering their wares for sale, and with that comes critique. That alone gives me a voice. Period!

            That said, I do own Apple products, about $8K worth now, though that is utterly irrelevant to my right to an opinion on Apple.

            It also goes to show that your question is not quite serious because, you know, it doesn’t need to be as big as an iPad, just bigger than it is as a third possibility, as you say.

            Finally, I offered an experiment that could possibly give us some answers for ourselves, and not depend on, or wait for Apple to give them to us.

            But to your point, I’m just seeking the truth, what do I care about Apple’s customers…

            I do care about Apple and how they behave though.

            And to you personally… Happy New Year.

        2. Not applicable to an iPad (because the battery capacity is bigger)?

          Not really possible (physics).

          But what it does mean is that an iPad’s battery will become even more aged before the problem manifests itself.

          …which is precisely what has happened this fall with a 3rd Generation (first generation ‘retina’) iPad in our fleet – – crashes 3-4x/day.

          So where’s the iPad battery replacement program?

          1. “But what it does mean is that an iPad’s battery will become even more aged before the problem manifests itself.”

            Yes that’s exactly what it means. It stresses less thus goes bad later. But not forever.

            There is no iPad program. I suggest complaining…

            1. FWIW, energy density has little to do with this topic – – this is all about cycle retention (or loss) & the rates at which a particular design/chemistry degrades from its original performance levels of power delivery.

            2. The extent of battery degradation from a materials point of view is closely related to the separation, or lack thereof, of the electrodes. Closer means shorter lived because defects and crystals build up and short the battery. Other things being equal, a larger battery can achieve not only better electrode separation, but higher capacity and higher energy density. Higher density means a shorter discharge time for a given amount of work. This reduces charge/discharge cycles for a given amount of work. I think….

            3. Good observation & point; I’d not given this aspect of things much thought … although the irony is that I did now that the basic difference between short & long warranty automotive Lead Acid batteries was how much of a gap was built into the battery case below the plates to allow more/less space for Pb flakes to accumulate without touching the plates: as soon as they build up enough to touch the plates, that shorts the cell out.

            1. Sure. What I mean is that one can’t violate physics to make a battery which has zero wear.

              In the case of the iPad, its general capacity means that it will have a higher peak amperage value than a smaller battery.

              As it ages, that peak amperage value will decline. Because it started higher, it will last longer until it slides below the peak draw of the computer system (at which point it causes a glitch/crash).

              That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen .. merely that its larger size means that it should have a longer useful life before it happens.

              And FWIW, do note that an iPad has a bigger display than an iPhone, so its peak power draws can be expected to be higher than an iPhone, which will offset some of these ‘bigger battery’ considerations.

            2. Yes, I thought about the larger display too, but I cannot assume it’s proportional to the required battery size. But as you say only some of the extra energy would be needed to drive the display, not all.

              For an iPhone the battery could be bigger, but not to iPad size.

            3. Agree on the iPhone battery “larger” customer desire — I’d much rather have it be somewhat thicker and be able to get two honest days out of a charge…although the Engineer in me would really want to see the entire trade space be graphically plotted out before making a final commitment! 😉

              In any event, I’m of the general observation/opinion that we achieved the “thin enough” when the ancient Palm V PDA hit 10mm thick (for point of reference, the iPhone 6/7 are ~7mm).

  2. My iPhone 6S works fine. When that isn’t the case anymore, I’ll get something new. Looks to me that a lot of people have connected their anxiety disorders to another inanimate object. I guess the fact that I’ve lived most of my life with my phone connected to a wall with a cable makes me a little irritable about all this whining.

    1. The mention of Apple draws clicks and hate of any kind draws clicks. Put the two together and that’s a whole lot of clicks. This battery incident would barely draw any attention for any other company but Apple. There are people out there who simply hate Apple as a company and won’t rest until Apple goes out of business. There have been oil tanker spills that have gotten less news media attention than this iPhone slowdown incident. That’s just how mentally deficient some people are when it comes to Apple.

        1. No, that’s Nickelback, el not le. Also, didn’t you mean eponymous?

          No big deal, but sometimes I just can’t resist correcting people, thus interrupting the flow, missing the point, etc. — It’s a gift, 🧐 but one nobody seems to care for. 😬

  3. This “Brilliant” solution should have been the solution all along. Instead, Apple acting in typical arrogance, decided we didn’t need to know what was going on. I personally told countless people, “No, Apple would not slow your iPhone down to force you to buy another one.”

    Well now it LOOKS LIKE that’s exactly what they did.

    All they had to do was put a little dot on the screen somewhere indicating that the battery needed to be replaced and offer the same deal they’re offering now. But they did not. They kept quiet about it.

    So now they have to prove to courts all over the world they didn’t keep it secret on purpose. Good luck with that.

      1. While I know that I should not feed a troll…

        Actually Apple did: https://www.apple.com/iphone-battery-and-performance/
        In the “Preventing Unexpected Shutdowns” section the important line is “With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance”.

        So Apple did admit that they do slowdown the phone. The given reason may be justified but the result is that the phone is running slower than advertised.

    1. The point here is that the issue is not a battery issue, it isn’t the fix that Apple chose, it is the fact that they kept it secret and why they kept it secret. There is no reason to have kept it secret. It sounds like a great idea. The ONLY benefit to keeping it secret is that a number of people would be prompted to buy a new phone. That is what the trials will be deciding. We shall see how much Apple pays for their continued arrogance. Australia alone is talking a billion dollars.

      1. If I were to allow my cynicism loose, I would suspect that it’s to sell more phones, but believe it or not, I’ll keep it more measured. If anything, I think it’s to prevent revealing just how lame the batteries are at that device size and performance level.

        They may be failing sooner, rather than later due to over aggressive design.

        Possibly, just sayin’.

      1. I give Apple the benefit of the doubt in that unlike Google & Samsung they are not intentionally trying to do evil. I just want to know where the hell Apple Legal is in all this to have nipped this situation in the bud before it got to where we are now? Don’t they have a responsibility to vet all such situations that have potential legal ramifications for Apple?

        Just what do those overpaid Bozo’s do except have regular 4 martini lunches singing Irish bar songs and laughing with an equally inebriated Eddie Cue? I suggest a clean sweep of the legal staff and use those billions to get the cream of the legal industry and have them hunker down and do their damn jobs.

  4. We’ll see how brilliant it is. The news media and Apple critics are already totally convinced Apple slowed down older iPhones in order to force users to buy new iPhones. I don’t think any reasonable explanation is going to change that belief. When people have a beef with a company, there’s just no changing their minds. Anything Apple says will be seen as a lame excuse of a company caught doing wrong. People actually want to believe Apple is trying to screw Apple customers and the news media will make sure it stays that way. Anything Apple does isn’t going to stop haters from vilifying the company.

    I can only hope Apple becomes more transparent in the future with their updates. Tim Cook should realize Apple is always put under a microscope and although the same problems might be ignored if another company does it, the news media will be sure to single out Apple as being the worst tech company. The Galaxy S7 battery fiasco didn’t seem to draw the ire of the news media as much as this slowed iPhone incident. It’s crazy but that’s just how it is for Apple. Apple is always going to be majorly screwed over by the news media so Apple better stay proactive on all updates.

    I see that a company’s product doesn’t have to poison, injure or kill people to stir a crowd into a killing frenzy and that’s really weird. Someone kills a dozen people with an assault rifle and it doesn’t create more lawsuits against that gun company than what Apple has against it for a slow iPhone.

    It’s a strange world when simply a slowed smartphone can engender so much hate for a company. So much pain and misery incurred from a slowed smartphone. So pitiful.

      1. Never could have been avoided. Any announcement or notifications would have been treated exactly the same. Haters gotta hate, Samsung’s paid trolls gotta post, and lawyers gotta take a Hail Mary swipe at the world’s deepest pockets.

      2. AC, TMac, and Khan: IMHO you guys have it exactly RIGHT.

        Absolutely NO REASON to keep this quiet and not inform customers of your actions and what’s best for them by providing explanation, guidance and options. I believe that old fashioned custom is called customer service.

        So yes indeed, the ONLY logical reason to keep this quiet was to stealthy nudge UNSUSPECTING customers to buy another phone. Planned obsolescence at its absolute worst, NO TRANSPARENCY, certainly a NEW LOW for Cook’s Apple.

        No amount of tedious Apple apologist screeds can defend the indefensible. They “screwed the pooch,” big time.

        Raise a glass to the plaintiffs, here’s wishing for a big win.🍺 And may Apple’s ARROGANCE take a much bigger hit than their bank account.

        Sorry, BLIND fanboys …

    1. Agree with most except that no, it’s not strange that a slowed smartphone can bring on this kind of hate. We paid big money for these pocket computers and to hear that the manufacturer decided to throttle them is quite angering at first without knowing details. Plus, their general attitude and questionable policies don’t help the matter.

    1. The electrical scientist Benjamin Franklin introduced the terms positive and negative in 1769 and they stuck. Negative was supposed to refer to a dearth of electrical charge carriers, but it was later discovered that the charge carriers moved the other way round. Franklin was wrong, as his biographer Walter Isaacson pointed out. Yes, the same Isaacson that wrote the authorised biography of Steve Jobs that generated much opprobrium here at MacDailyNews. He also wrote the just-released bio of Leonardo da Vinci. Funny thing, in all three books he exposes the sexual peccadillos of these great men. I wonder, should he have written hagiographies instead? People do complain about their heroes being besmirched, preferring comfort to truth.

  5. Ok, I can appreciate all this from Apple. $79 for a fix available for <$45 locally was kind of nuts. A local outfit in Bellevue, WA would do a battery wihile you wait for $45+tx.

    However the cut off on v6 iPhones is silly. Any iPhone capable of the latest iOS update should be eligible…IMO.

  6. No fooken way I would purchsse a new iPhone when a cheap battery replacement will solve iPhone 6 issues with iOS 11!
    AND no fooken way Apple is going to sell me a fooken one thousand fooken dollar iPhone X!
    Going to my Apple Store to get a cheap battery replacement is what it is going to be about!
    And Apple better have a fairly quick and expedient way to get my iPhone 6S+ battery replaced, toot fooken sweet!
    AND don’t talk to me about ANY fooken new iPhone models.
    FIX my perfectly fine iPhone 6S+ that was running perfectly fooken fine before this iOS 11 degrading battery debacle!

    1. I have to fooken agree, I think lots of folks will take advantage of this program instead of upgrading, I am seriously thinking about it and waiting a year or 2 for a new phone. How many others will do the same? Problem is my 6S is running perfectly fine so I don’t need the battery 🙂 but I am still running iOS 10.
      BTW don’t be so sure it will solve your iOS 11 issues. It could be iOS version bloat causing it, iOS 10 also throttled so I don’t think 11 should have made a difference. Some people are claiming the throttling is worse in 11, not sure it’s true. Perhaps it is, simply because iOS 11 takes more CPU & resources and the throttling is more noticeable because of that.

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