Tim Cook: ‘Maybe we should have been clearer’ over throttling iPhones with aging batteries

“The iPhone throttling issue that Apple brought upon itself last year shows no signs of going away any time soon, but Apple CEO Tim Cook finally acknowledges that the company should have been clearer with iPhone owners,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “It all started back in July of last year, when Apple released iOS 10.2.1 following reports that iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE handsets were shutting down randomly due to cold weather, low battery charge, or battery aging. The release notes for this update had the following to say: ‘Improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns.’ Doesn’t say an awful lot, does it?”

“In an interview on Wednesday with ABC News, Cook was asked whether he thought that Apple had done a good job of keeping customers in the loop as to the iPhone throttling issue, and right out of the gate he took on a defiant posture. ‘When we did put it [the software update] out, we did say what it was, but I don’t think a lot of people were paying attention.’ Later Cook went on to say that ‘maybe we should have been clearer, as well.'” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “Cook did go on to apologize, but not for the throttling, but for how people may have felt Apple had selfish motives for doing it: ‘We deeply apologize for anybody that thinks we had some other kind of motivation.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There’s no “maybe” about it.

Also, is Cook really capable of apologizing for, not to, people who think that Apple deliberately obfuscated this issue in order to encourage new iPhone sales vs. comparatively inexpensive battery replacements?

To us, it seems as if Cook is being intentionally obtuse, likely due to rather sizable legal considerations.

As we wrote earlier this month:

You can see why some think that Apple wanted to keep what they were doing a secret. If people knew that a $79 battery replacement would give them an iPhone that performed like it did on day one, a meaningful percentage would take that option versus buying a new iPhone. Now that it’s just $29 this year, that percentage will naturally increase.

Then again, as Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

Apple’s made up of people. People are imperfect. We’ll take Apple’s word for it that they “always wanted… customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible” and that they “have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

Again, it’s Apple’s lack of communication that is the problem here. If Apple had clearly explained what was going on in the software, we’d know to recommend a battery replacement when users complained their older iPhones were getting “slow.” As it was, we were pretty much left to assume that the processor/RAM wasn’t up to par with demands of newer iOS releases and we’d naturally recommend getting a new iPhone.

Just yesterday, we had a friend complain that his iPhone 6 was acting “slow” and we knew to recommend a battery replacement (even though he instead opted to get himself an iPhone X on our strong recommendation).MacDailyNews, December 29, 2017

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

Apple should provide a toggle switch in Settings where users specify if they’d like to keep running at high processor speeds even if it means rapid shutdowns or if they’d like to run at lower processors speeds to accommodate an aging battery that requires replacement.MacDailyNews, December 27, 2017

China consumer group seeks answers from Apple over batterygate – January 16, 2018
South Korean consumer group considering criminal case against Apple over iPhone batterygate – January 11, 2018
French prosecutor launches probe into Apple planned obsolescence – January 8, 2018
Apple’s design decisions and iPhone batteries – January 8, 2018
Apple now faces over two dozen lawsuits for ‘purposefully’ or ‘secretly’ slowing down older iPhones – January 5, 2018
Why aging batteries don’t slow down Android phones like Apple iPhones – January 5, 2018
Apple’s $29 replacement batteries expected to hurt new iPhone sales – January 4, 2018
How to see if Apple’s throttling your iPhone – January 4, 2018
Brazilian agency requires Apple to inform consumers on batteries – January 3, 2018
Analyst: Apple’s ‘batterygate’ solution may mean 16 million fewer iPhones sold this year – January 3, 2018
An Apple conspiracy theory blooms – January 2, 2018
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


  1. I still think at least part of the reson Apple does not want to tell customers that it is a battery issue is because the first replacement battery when you are on Apple Care is free. So rather than having to replace the battery for free they slow it down at least until the Apple care is used up. Not quite as bad as trying to sell you a new iPhone when you don’t need it but still pretty shady.

    1. Exactly what I was thinking. When he adds a “maybe” it worries me about making similar future “mistakes”.

      He should have added – “All future updates that impact customers will be given more attention to avoid unintended consequences and misinterpretations. It’s important to us that customers be included in the decision making process of anything that effects the performances of their Apple devices.”

  2. So, Scott got kicked to the curb for not offering an apology to Mr. Cook’s liking while Mr. Cook is now talking the lawyer speak instead of offering a full fledged apology for mucking things up that has the potential to cost Apple a lot more (monetary, sales, reputation points, brand value, trust factor etc.) than the honest mistake Mr. Forstall’s team did with the map fiasco.

    I get it.

  3. “Improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns.”

    To me, that says it all and is sufficient. Apple did not do this with an ulterior motive. This update made some aging devices more usable, and helped to compensate for the impacts of cold weather on batteries.

    To all those who ascribed evil, ulterior motives to Apple for this update – you should be ashamed of yourselves. Apple has given us no reason to lose trust in the consumer-oriented focus championed by Steve Jobs.

    1. Right, it clearly states this power management will hurt your iPhone’s performance to the point of extreme user frustration.
      I didn’t, but it’s really not hard to ascribe ulterior motives for the change,

    2. Yep totally agree. Batteries degrade over time and in a quest to provide a better user experience (ie your phone doesn’t randomly shut down or crash), people want to crucify them with conspiracy theories that they did this for ulterior motives.

      No good deed goes unpunished.

    1. I completely agree. Apple has a tendency to think their decisions are best, leaving little room for the end user to modify anything. I hope this will be a wake-up call. Many of today’s consumers are pretty well versed in the subtleties of their phones and would appreciate being given the ability to customize just a little bit more how their phones operate.

  4. “Again, it’s Apple’s lack of communication that is the problem here”

    Not just now, and not just here. It’s their major problem, externally , and apparently internally in so many areas.

  5. Tim & Co have a lot of ‘splainin” to do for many things: failure to deliver new “Wow” products on time, long delays in updating popular but aging products. E.g. Mac Mini update, flawed ATV, non-upgradable iMac Pro, no Mac Pro after many years of promising, and on and on. With its vast (soon to be vaster) financial resources and employees, what’s the hang up? Even if its effort to develop new video programs successful, that seems unlikely to be a major source of profits.

  6. How can Cook possibly explain why the applicable phones were 6 and up? I wish he does not continue funny talk. Consumers are not stupid. If he had no better explanation, I recommend that he just shut his mouth up so as not to look stupid himself.

    BTW, this debacle revealed how much overpriced the battery replacement was.

    Guilty as charged.

    Apple has changed….

  7. MDN, that article missed important information. According to CNN they quoted Timmy saying next iPhone update WILL tell more about battery status and and WILL allow user to opt out of throttling. It wasn’t just “hinted”.

  8. Tim Cook discovers honesty, opennes, and transparency. Hmm, weren’t these things Tim Cook has been preaching to us for years? Hooray, the prophet finally heard his own sermons. Very good, Tim.

  9. YES. So Tim, where’s the OFF SWITCH!

    The simple solution. When will Apple get the clue?

    Apple is highly diverted from what makes sense at this moment in time. I can only hope it’s the ongoing move to the dysfunctional Mothership. Applying the Apple Prod®™ isn’t working.

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