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Apple admits to throttling performance on iPhones with older batteries

By Shawn Knight · 13 replies
Dec 21, 2017
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  1. Evidence surfaced last week suggesting a link between the performance capabilities of an iPhone and the age of its battery. John Poole, founder of cross-platform benchmarking application Geekbench, looked into the matter and concluded that Apple had in fact introduced some sort of change to limit performance when a device’s battery degrades past a certain point.

    Now, Apple is speaking out publicly on the matter.

    The Cupertino-based company told TechCrunch that lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, when they have a low battery charge or as they age over time which can result in a device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

    As such, Apple says that last year, they released a feature for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE designed to smooth out instantaneous peaks when needed to prevent shutdowns during such conditions. The feature has since been extended to the iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2 and will be coming to other products in the future.

    Indeed, Apple ran into an issue last year with some iPhone 6s batteries that were causing device shutdowns. The issue was “fixed” with a software update that, in hindsight, limits or “smooths” out performance on devices with aging batteries.

    Some will no doubt interpret this as proof that Apple is intentionally slowing down devices in a bid to get consumers to ditch their current iPhones and buy a shiny new handset. The jury is still out on that debate but in this case, it’s quite the opposite as they’re reducing peak power draw in order to prolong a handset’s life. As TechCrunch correctly highlights, it’s a lithium-ion chemistry issue, not an Apple issue. I wouldn’t be surprised if several other handset manufacturers employ similar tactics.

    It’s easy to see why consumers would be frustrated with how this whole thing played out. A bit more transparency on Apple’s part could have helped mitigate the controversy but then again, providing too much information can be just as – if not more – damaging.

    If your iPhone is getting a bit long in the tooth or you're otherwise struggling to make it through a full day on a single charge, have a look at our recent article on how to squeeze the most out of your iPhone's battery.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 21, 2017
  2. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,966   +1,230

    It's a "feature" LOL.
    Reehahs and RedGuard like this.
  3. GregonMaui

    GregonMaui TS Booster Posts: 137   +45

    Here is a challenge to technically literate commenters out there (someone must be a battery engineer)

    Batteries age (2 - 3 year life spans)
    Snapdragon phones generally have more cores, faster clocks, and more ram, all requiring more power, and producing more heat.
    Snapdragons used to be thermally limited to a much greater extent than Apples, because Apple designed theirs not to be. (Reference Samsung, other vendors cheating on benchmarking software tests - Google it, it exists, admittedly a bunch of years ago)

    So the challenge is, what if anything are other vendors doing as batteries age? Are thermal limits (aka throttling) still employed?, are batteries maximum draws bigger, such that phones don't require hard, random shutdowns?
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,001   +3,483

    Maybe Apple, and other phone manufacturers, should tell their customers upfront that lithium batteries degrade over time, and under heavy use should only expect 2-3 years of use.

    The real questions is, why hasn't this been an issue for android phones? There are plenty of poorly supported android phones that don't receive updates even a year after they've launched yet this becomes an issue with Apple first. If this really is an issue with the batteries, why haven't we seen the same thing on the android side?
  5. GregonMaui

    GregonMaui TS Booster Posts: 137   +45

    You are seriously going with that? all manufacturers (apple, Samsung, Google,.....) state lithium ion batteries last 2-3 years. Have you noticed Samsung comes with user replaceable batteries? wouldn't need that if you didn't need to replace batteries. This is not an Apple issue, its physics, chemistry, etc.
  6. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,001   +3,483

    And yet the fact remains, why is Apple the only one who needs to do this yet I've heard nothing from the android size. If you can present a factual argument other than "rlly guys", I'd like to hear it. I am genuinely curious to see sources that show the same issue on android.
  7. GregonMaui

    GregonMaui TS Booster Posts: 137   +45

    I'm sure you can google as well as I can. I did find the following, which show, yes throttling does occur on Samsung, yes old batteries are a problem..so old batteries will cause throttling as heat builds up, and batteries are a problem in Android.

    Would be nice to hear from an expert. But please, the absence of facts you haven't searched for is not the same thing as absence of facts.

    "Galaxy s7 thermal throttling [ Edited ]
    I recently bought a galaxy s7 edge and noticed the phone significantly slows down as it warms up (40% lower performance at 38*C). Is there any way to disable thermal throttling without rooting, bootloader is locked. I can barely hold 40 fps in some games and I'd prefer having the phone slightly hot to the touch than dealing with frame drops." us.community.samsung.com

    "For example, both the S5 and Note 4 last significantly longer on a charge than the other phones in this chart, but that’s only because they have to throttle back the GPU frequency to mitigate heat buildup. The iPhone 6, meanwhile, exhibits the opposite behavior; it runs at max performance for the duration of the test, never throttling, and drains the battery faster.
    Neither S6 model does well in this test. They both experience thermal throttling, offering similar levels of performance to the S5 but with significantly less battery life. The HTC One (M9) also offers better performance with similar battery life." tomshardware.com

    "Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2016 LTE Thermal throttling

    When I play games on my tablet they run smootly for about 3-5 min if I run on the lowest brigthness.
    But then the tempeture goes over 50-52 degrees on the cpu and it goes down from 100% usage to 70-80% and the game starts lagging. I have tested this in a few games and even in 1 my old ipad for like 5 years ago can play without problem.

    anyone know how to fix this?" us.community.samsung.com

    "Galaxy S4 reboots, battery percentage drops

    Problem: My Samsung Galaxy S4 keeps turning off on its own all the time, it could be on 100% and turns off. When it did turn back on the phone would no longer be on 100%, it could be in the 60’s sometimes less, sometimes more. When the phone turns off, it goes to the start up screen then goes blank again. This process repeats over and over. To make it go back to normal I would have to plug it into a charger and it would turn on but now when I plug the charger in the same thing happens when the start up screen shows. Why is this happening?

    ........However, if the problem occurs many times a day, say 5 times or more, it surely is a battery issue. Since you couldn’t get a new phone, buying a new battery is your best bet to fix this problem." thedroidguy.com

    "Phone shutting down with charged battery
    Hello, my Note Edge has recently been shutting down with no warning. This is happening even when the battery is fully charged. When I plug the phone into three charger (only use the Samsung charger) the phone shows o% battery then immediately shows the icon turning green and going back to showing the charge (for example 90%) that my phone had before it shut down. What is confusing to me is that my problem is not a battery that is draining too fast, it's just dying abruptly and reading zero when in fact phone is charged.
    I'm careful to close all apps when not in use, optimize the battery by Samsungs suggestions, and even restrict background data from my settings. I have not downloaded any new apps that may be causing this, at least to the best of my knowledge.
    The phone is over two years old but I'm trying to hold off till the new Galaxy is available. If anyone has advice for me I would be very appreciative. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    ........Re: Phone shutting down with charged battery
    I would suggest never buying a Samsung phone again. As you can see they broke all models of the note 4 and note edge with a firmware update and refuse to acknowledge or fix the phones they broke. All this just in time for the Note 8 release. There has been a class action lawsuit started about this. soon as I get a response from the two law firms that are handling it I will post the info. " us.community.samsung.com
  8. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,001   +3,483

    Um, no links are provided. You didn't need to quote, I can read for myself once the links are posted.

    "I'm sure you can google as well as I can."

    It's not my job to prove your argument.

    I'd like to point out right now that individual accounts of people having issues with their phone mean little by themselves unless you can prove they correlate statistically to high numbers of issues. Otherwise I have to take them at face value, which is a single person having issues and not a wide ranging issue like Apple has admitted to. In addition you also have to be able to prove that each individual's issues are the result of the battery. There are plenty of forum posts where users jump to conclusions without isolating variables.
  9. Todd Sauve

    Todd Sauve TS Rookie

    If Apple KNOWS that their batteries give up the ghost after a year or so, why don't they tell us that when we are buying the phone? Obviously to have us buy the phone in ignorance of its fast break downs!

    WE PAY THREE TIMES THE COST OF MANUFACTURE for the "PRIVILEGE" OF OWNING AN iPHONE X AND THEN YOU GET A PIECE OF JUNK BATTERY THAT CAN'T EVEN RUN THE PHONE PROPERLY FOR ONE SINGLE YEAR! I have only owned one single iPhone (a version 4) and then ditched it for an Android phone because the battery would go from 100% charged to stone dead in an instant. The Apple store ran it through all its fancy diagnostics protocols in the back room for about an hour and then told me there was nothing wrong with it. As if I don't know an instantly dead battery when I see one! CLEARLY THEY LIED TO ME OR THEY ARE LYING TO THEIR OWN STORES AND TECHNICIANS BECAUSE THEY HAVE KNOWN FOR YEARS NOW THAT THEIR BATTERIES GO DEAD WITHIN A YEAR OR SO! I truly don't know why people continue to pay highway robbery prices for a piece of junk from Apple. NOT TO MENTION THAT UNUSABLE SOFTWARE ABOMINATION CALLED iTUNES! I guess they think they are getting something prestigious. Hah!

    And why should anyone pay Apple $79.00 to have the battery replaced when you can buy an entirely decent Android phone for the same price?

    I hope the class action lawsuits hurt Tim Cook and Co. severely!
  10. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,401   +627

    Todd Sauve, please hold down the shouting. Thanks.
  11. Anton Skryaga

    Anton Skryaga TS Enthusiast Posts: 38   +17

    Just do it :)

    Cmn.. Stop using CAPS, pls.
    Almost any modern phone/notebook user manual speaks something like: "This devices' battery will live approx. 1000 cycles and must be changed after that". Not a big deal.
    Why so much noise about "non-replaceable" batteries? Do you want to use your phone 5+ years? Just buy 10 year old phone and be happy)
  12. fktech

    fktech TS Maniac Posts: 526   +138

    Confused title...
  13. Cubi Dorf

    Cubi Dorf TS Booster Posts: 145   +51

    I think they just want you to buy new phone because new one faster. This bogus excuses. Any company with advertisement id built into operating system Can not be trust. It a shame what technology world becomes. Being richest companies in the world is not enough for them when there is still monies to extract.
  14. How else is Apple going to increase its bottom line?

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