In case you haven’t heard, Apple is intentionally slowing down your phone as it gets older. The company, after receiving pressure from users on Reddit which evolved into news sites conducting experiments and confronting the company, admitted to slowing down older models through a software update.
In a statement, the company said,
The update was designed to “smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down.” iPhone batteries “become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge, or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.”
In other words, the update was designed to increase the long-term usefulness of phones whose batteries were beginning to degrade. Sounds reasonable, especially as iPhones have a famously terrible battery life and it makes sense the company would want to improve the longevity of existing phones.
But this update wasn’t just targeted at ageing batteries.
Through creating a software update and hiding the battery optimisation feature within it, Apple has reduced the performance of millions of phones around the world. Not only ageing iPhone 6s but also those that were sold in the last 12 months. To put this another way, Apple chose to assume that all of their phones, apart from the 7 and X, had degrading batteries and needed to be slowed down. It goes without saying that there are a huge amount of variables involved in determining whether a battery has reached a point of requiring optimisation, including the care taken by the owner, its age and how often it is used. Apple chose to make a clumsy assumption and are now paying the price with a PR disaster and potential class action that could involve a significant portion of its users.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on – understanding that Apple was trying to improve its hardware, or suspicious of the business’s intent – it should go without saying that this could all have been avoided had Apple decided to improve its communication with end users. Yet again, a failure to initiate that conversation has led to even more distrust in the market.