Apple apologises to users over slowing down older iPhones; slashes battery replacement costs by $50

On 20 December, Apple acknowledged that iPhone software has the effect of slowing down some phones with battery problems.

After facing a severe backlash from consumers over intentionally slowing down older iPhone models, Apple on 28 December issued an apology on its website. This is a rare gesture from the company.

 Apple apologises to users over slowing down older iPhones; slashes battery replacement costs by

Apple. Reuters.

The Cupertino-based tech giant stated that it plans to introduce a number of changes for its customers  “to recognise their loyalty and to regain the trust of anyone who may have doubted Apple’s intentions”.“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” said Apple in its posting. “We apologise.”

Here is a link to the complete apology letter that Apple has put up on its site.

Apple has gone into detail of how batteries age and how it manages to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

"About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. 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," said Apple adding that replacing the older battery with a new one would bring back the performance to normal levels under standard operating conditions.

(Also ReadApple admits to slowing down older iPhones as battery ages, but it needs to be more proactive about informing its users)

Apple also announced three measures it is going to take to address common customer concerns:

  • Apple is slashing prices for all battery replacements and it also plans to show users whether their phone battery is good or in poor shape in its next iOS update early in 2018. The out-of-warranty battery replacement price for an iPhone 6 or later will be cut down from $79 to $29 starting from late January next year.
  • Early next year, Apple will issue an iOS software update which will let users know the health of their iPhone's battery, so they can see for themselves how it is taking a hit on the performance.
  • Apple will work on improving customer experience and focus on improving how performance can be managed to avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age.

Apple's move to address these quality and durability concerns about its products come at a time when it is charging about $1000 for its newest flagship model, the iPhone X.

Apple had acknowledged on 19 December that it was effectively slowing down the performance of older iPhone models through software updates so that the battery life of these devices was prolonged and also to prevent components from getting fried. According to Apple, as the battery ages, it becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low charge state. This results in an unexpected shutdown of the phone in some situations.

The discovery was first made by Primate Labs which makes the benchmarking platform Geekbench. It ran tests to demonstrate that older iPhones do show a drop in single core scores after the iPhone 6s was updated from iOS 10.2.0 to 10.2.1 and similarly with the iPhone 7, a drop was noticed when moving from iOS 11.1.2 to 11.2.0.

Apple has claimed that it had never done anything to intentionally shorten the older iPhone's life so that users were forced to buy the next generation of the iPhone.

"First and foremost, we 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. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that," says Apple.

If only Apple had let their users, who spend significantly large sums of money of getting their iPhones, know beforehand that it is taking the steps to reduce peak performance to ensure sustained battery life, things would not have been this bad. Apple, unfortunately, did not inform anyone beforehand. It took a third party to point out this flaw.

In the aftermath of this disclosure, Apple is now facing possible multiple class-action lawsuits from different groups, across different countries (US, Israel, France) who seek to represent potentially millions of iPhone owners. A lawsuit filed in San Francisco said that "the batteries' inability to handle the demand created by processor speeds" without the software patch was a defect and breach of Apple's contract.

This is clearly not the last we are hearing about this controversy, and expect more lawsuits to come in. That Apple slows down iPhones to force its users to upgrade to newer models was a conspiracy theory that had become an urban legend. This disclosure just added a lot of gravitas to that legend. Looks like Apple's start to 2018 will be spent on a lot of damage control measures.

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