A headline this week about Apple purportedly throttling the performance of older iPhones to preserve battery life has struck a chord on the internet. It was started by a recent post on Reddit and quickly gained traction on social media among iPhone users and (gleeful) Android fans.
If you’re an iPhone user, this sounds all too familiar: It seems every time Apple rolls out a newer, better version, you may get a little suspicious because your device — which was previously working fine — starts to spasm and glitch-out all of the sudden. You can’t help but wonder whether Apple is deliberately sabotaging your old iPhone.
No way that could be happening, right? Well, for the first time we’ve got some proof that that is exactly what Apple is doing — sort of.
Apple admits to slowing performance on old iPhones
In a Twitter thread, developer Guilherme Rambo said that he tested the effect of Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates on the battery life of the iPhone 6S and 7 and found an interesting secret. Buried in iOS is a code called “Powerd,” which he said basically controls CPU/GPU power usage and speed. He said it also has a thermal feature “to make sure your phone doesn’t catch on fire.”
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What Poole found is pretty strong evidence that Apple is indeed manipulating the performance of your old iPhone or iPad. So what did the Cupertino, California-based company do in response? They put out a statement that backhandedly admits that the company dials back the performance of your old phone through — as you may have suspected — updates. The company said they did this to ensure the health of your device, basically to guard against the sudden shutdowns.
“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices,” the company said in a statement to tech website The Verge. “Lithium-ion 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.”
The company said that in 2016 it released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to “smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.” People with the iPhone 7 and “other products” will soon get the update as well with iOS 11.2.
To say the least, the admission has called into question Apple’s commitment to its customers. As techie Seth Weintraub said on Twitter: “Also on 10.2.1, did Apple slow down iPhones rather than make warranty battery swaps for iPhones that were shutting down (like my wife’s)? Seems like giving someone a slower iPhone rather than fixing a bad battery isn’t consumer friendly.”
With the ramifications from Apple’s statement still reverberating, what’s an old iPhone user to do? Well, here are some tips on how to prolong the battery life of your device.
How to prolong the battery life of your old iPhone
Low Power Mode: In later updates, Apple has included the Low Power Mode feature that notifies the user when the smartphone hits 20%. What Low Power Mode does is cut down on system requirements so your device can last longer. Apple says that “some features might not work” in this mode, so be warned.
Stay out of the sun: As with most devices, extreme heat is not helpful. If you’re on a Florida beach or someplace similar, it’s best to shield your phone from the sun. In addition to, like, blowing up, battery life will be adversely effected if you are using your iPhone for an extended period in direct sunlight. On its website, Apple says ideal operational temperatures are 62° to 72° F (16° to 22° C) . Anything higher than 95° F (35° C) “can permanently damage battery capacity. That is, your battery won’t power your device as long on a given charge.”
Close out of battery-intensive apps: We all know that the iPhone can handle an enormous workload, with numerous apps and programs running simultaneously. But there is a thing as too much. By pressing the “Battery” button in Settings, Apple lets you see which programs are draining the most out of your battery as well as the percentage of juice you have left. To retain battery strength, close down some of those apps, especially the juice-sucking ones that comprise video or games.
Bottom line: Whether you have an iPhone or Android, batteries don’t last forever, so you’ll want to do all you can to extend the life of the one you have.