A reality check about Apple’s iPhone ‘batterygate’

“Apple found itself in the thick of it when it quietly released an update, iOS 10.2.1, designed to fix a sudden shutdown problem on some iPhones,” Gene Steinberg writes for The Tech Nigh Owl. “The problem is that Apple didn’t explain the nature of the fix… When the reduced performance was discovered, the usual Apple conspiracy theories were operative. Apple was throttling performance to convince you to buy a new iPhone. It was an evil plot to sell more product, all about planned obsolescence.”

“Apple admitted what it was doing, and explained why. But it was a case of too little and too late, and failed to prevent class-action lawsuits,” Steinberg writes. “The reasoning behind throttling performance on some iPhones with deteriorated batteries makes perfect sense. It’s all about the fact that Apple failed to properly communicate this information to its customers, a common problem. The release notes provided with software updates are almost always too brief and lack important details. Some software fixes are never even listed, leaving clever power users to figure out what was changed and the impact. Is there going to be a lasting impact?”

“The company needs to be more forthcoming with customers. You’d think they would have also learned that with the years of silence between the release of the Mac Pro in 2013 and the revelation that Apple knew it was a misfire and was working on a modular replacement that can be upgraded by users,” Steinberg writes. “So there are still lessons to be learned. Corporate secrecy has its place in a highly competitive environment. It doesn’t work when customers just need to know what’s going on with the expensive products they bought.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Because of the way Apple operates this sort of thing will happen again in the future. Apple would have to change their thinking about the customer, trust the customer’s intelligence, and address their penchant for secrecy where none is required or even advisable in order to fix the structural issues within Apple Inc. that creates these type of problems.

As has almost always been the case with Apple, unfortunately, transparency comes later, not sooner, and usually as a reaction to negative publicity.

A simple Knowledge Base article would have preempted all of this Reddit sleuthing and the attendant handwringing and erroneous presumptions.MacDailyNews, December 20, 2017

SEE ALSO:
Apple clarifies policy on $29 battery replacements: All iPhone 6 and later devices are eligible – January 2, 2018
Why Apple’s response to iPhone ‘batterygate’ is brilliant – December 30, 2017
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

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26 Comments

  1. Apple’s been pushing technology so much it forgot about the power source being able to keep up with new technologies in the iPhones. Also, Apple has to at lease make the iPhone larger to accommodate a larger battery.

    People are not going to be happy about spending $700 to $800 on a device that after two years they have to pay $29 for a new battery so their device doesn’t power off or slow down.

    1. with that thinking when I buy a car for $30K the battery should never wear out, or anything else for that matter…… replacing batteries and high wear items in anything that uses them is normal. If you can invent and produce the perpetual battery that comes in all shapes and sizes then you will own the planet…… until then…..

      1. This isn’t about a battery never wearing out, yes – that is expected. What is not expected is that the speed of the processor would be affected by a battery wearing out. Obviously that is not normal, otherwise Apple would not have to write software to slow the processor when the battery wears out – it would happen normally.

        To use your automotive analogy, it would be similar to your $30,000 car’s MPG dropping when your battery wears out. Slowly over time you would not be able to GET 35 MPG, only 30, then 25, then 20 or less. Some people would likely take their car to a mechanic and not assume it was simply a battery wearing out, but some other people would just assume it was their car getting older, and that the entire car was deteriorating. It is those people who Apple has failed. The ones who never noticed a correlation between battery condition and processor speed, because prior to IOS 10.2.1 – there was no such correlation.

        1. It is not that the processor slowed down, it’s just that the phone started to behave erratically with the battery down to around 40%, and sometimes it would suddenly shut down. I had to get a battery case to make it through the day, and I had finally had to get a new iPhone. At least that was my personal experience with my iPhone 6.

          Am I upset with Apple because my iPhone 6 got old and decrepit? Not really, I thought instead, what a great deal the iPhone 6 was. Up until then, I had bought every iteration of the iPhone beginning with the original one. You kind of had to. The iPhone 6 was the best iPhone design Apple made till the X. For the first time, I had no reason to buy a new one. It still looks as nice as any other iPhone, including the X. I got four solid years of service out of it. What else can I ask for? And that I now can get a battery for $29 is just amazing; meaning, the darn thing still looks like brand new, and now, since I hate changing sims in my phone, I can continue using my iPhone 6 as a travel phone for many more years to come.

          Now then, no matter how Apple went about this battery – software issue; bottom line is, I could care less. I am a happy customer. And I continue to love having my iPhone 6, even as my new X takes its place as my new main iPhone.

    2. The choice was not between an iPhone that could perform high-load tasks at 100% with old batteries and one that could do them at only 80&. It was between a device that could perform such tasks at 80% and one that could not perform them at all, because it shut down under heavy loads.

    3. Tel your politicians to stop defunding science research and maybe we will make advances in power. Until then Apple can’t magically fix lithium ion and a battery works. It’s time for the general population to start understanding how science impacts the way they interact with technology. This is for Apple or Android.

      1. There might already be hardware solutions to address this problem. If a small super-capacitor was used as part of the power supply, it could retain enough charge to cover the periods when peak demand is too great for the battery alone.

        I’ve no idea how much capacity might be needed, or how tiny such a super capacitor could be, but I feel pretty sure that Apple will have investigated this possibility and might now be re-evaluating it for future iPhones.

        1. I think Apple and other Android OEMs have thought of super-capacitors and most likely discarded the idea due to uncertainty of how long a peak capacity period would last. Many applications that require quick response to user input and games with high framerates could tax the supercapacitor beyond the charge it will hold and we end up with the same problem of the battery not being able to sustain the peak voltage during the remainder of the peak period. Adding such complexity may not be in their best interest.

    4. “People are not going to be happy about spending $700 to $800 on a device that after two years they have to pay $29 for a new battery”

      Only an Android troll, or a cheap ass tight wad would think like this.

  2. And NOBODY?!!?!? At Apple read the great plan to fix auto shut offs and thought that MAYBE it sounded like planned obsolescence ?!? While everybody else On the planet thinks planned obsolescence.

    cmon.

    As a shareholder I’m upset.

      1. I’m intrigued about what is happening with Android phones with fading batteries?

        Either they are being allowed to crash – because the same laws of physics apply, or they are being throttled, despite the claims by some manufacturers that they do not throttle their phones. I would have thought that avoiding crashes was the more desirable outcome for most users.

        It is widely known that when an Android phone overheats, it’s automatically throttled to draw less power ( quite right too ), so Android does throttle the CPU under some circumstances. I wonder if it’s a situation where the Android operating system also does this when the battery is less strong, but the device manufacturers are unaware of it or else deceiving their customers until this particular storm has blown over?

        1. Considering that the average Android phone has much larger charge capacities than iPhones in general, (http://socialcompare.com/en/comparison/apple-iphone-product-line-comparison), the ‘fade’/dropoff in charge is not as sudden as an iPhone prior to the ‘fix’. In older Android phones they are most likely crashing but are remedied quickly by the user popping in a replacement battery they may have on hand.

          Since Android is designed to work a virtualized layer developed by the OEM, unless the OEM or CPU provider designs the proper API to control CPU throttling, i highly doubt the Android OS can do anything that deep in the HW. The best Android could do in that situation is based on the status the OS is able to gather from the OEM API regarding the battery, is to manage the queue of instructions/threads to tax the CPU less.

          There is a difference between Android devices being throttled to control overheating and the Android OS doing the throttling.

    1. As a shareholder, I feel the same way as you. No one can actually prove Apple’s motive was to drive new iPhone sales, but if that’s what people want to believe then there’s nothing Apple can do to change that opinion. I don’t think Apple’s reputation will be greatly damaged but who knows for sure?

      I can only hope Apple learned its lesson and will give more information about future updates.

      Since there are a number of analysts who believe iPhone sales won’t meet expectations this quarter, then Apple’s attempt to drive iPhone sales with the Throttlegate update must have terribly backfired.

      The FANG stocks are flying high today and Apple stock is fading fast which is usually the result of a bad Apple.

      1. Since Friday’s intraday low of $169.22 AAPL has gone up to today’s intraday high of $174.55, a 3.15% gain in two trading days.

        If you are indeed a shareholder you aren’t a big one, otherwise, if you were you’d be paying greater attention to how AAPL is trading.

        1. I neglected to point out that with today’s Close (down 8¢ from yesterday) AAPL is trading just $5 off its all-time high and UP 48% Year on Year, hardly justification for “Apple stock is fading fast which is usually the result of a bad Apple”.

          Not exactly the comment I would expect from a knowledgeable “shareholder”.

  3. I read a blog the other day, where the author was convinced about the planned obsolescence conspiracy. He even made the allegation that Apple releases updates that slow older iPhones to coincide with new releases. However, that is where his stupid theory falls apart. IOS 10.2.1 was released in January 2017, well after the release of the new iPhone 7 and after Christmas. Therefore, Apple’s motive was not to sell more iPhones.
    I still believe the general public does not need to know the technical details of each maintenance update. If Apple told the public back in January, they still would have got sued. People are just desperate to get some of Apple’s money.

    1. And people driven to complain about anything and everything will continue to complain about anything and everything.

      In the 30 years since I bought my first Mac I’ve seen this many, many times, and it won’t change no matter what Apple does to “improve”. Some just need to complain. I guess it makes them feel more powerful and better about themselves.

      The problem here isn’t what Apple did, or how it did or did not explain its actions, it is an unrealistic expectation that older devices, especially those that depend on chemical reactions, will continue to operate as new long after it was, in fact, new. No amount of explanation about how lithium ion batteries function will change that. The complainers will just change the argument (“they should have told me”) as though #1 they would understand the explanation or, #2 would act on what they were told.

      I’d like to know why, if their iPhones were slowing down, those users didn’t avail themselves of the FREE Genius bar (or 800 number tech support) to find out what was going on with their iPhone. Obviously the issue wasn’t serious enough to expend the energy, UNTIL the “conspiracy” headlines hit the news stand.

    2. Well actually, not to fuel the bloggers theory or anything but January does coincide with a theoretical slow down of iPhone sales after the initial release and the holiday rush. A great time to try to spur sales. The early winter months are slow for retail in general, I expect iPhone sales are lower than other times of the year also.

  4. Hopefully this will encourage Apple to use larger batteries for the iPhone in the future. The race to become an overly ‘thin’ device forced their design to use a thinner battery which is more prone to be affected by temperature and have shorter discharge cycles increasing the ‘time’ the iPhone battery would experience a lower voltage situation. The software ‘fix’ did help smooth out the battery discharge gracefully, but also had a side effect of possibly hiding ‘bad’ batteries that could not hold a full charge out of the box.

    Offering a lower cost to replace the battery is admirable of Apple. Hopefully they also add something under Settings > Battery to show you what the device thinks the degradation state is at to avoid further ‘-gates’ concerning the battery and put to rest any worries of the ‘new’ battery being subpar.

  5. Apple and iOS loves to nag users when they think something is wrong like their iOS software is older than they want users to be using, or the battery charge is at 20 percent and you should switch to Low Power Mode. If anything merits being nagged about, it is the fact that the battery has deteriorated to the point where it is crippling performance of your $$$ iphone

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