Apple recently acknowledged that some iPhones with degraded batteries would run slower than a model with a newer battery in certain situations. The company says this was to help keep phones from unexpectedly shutting down, but plenty of folks jumped to the conclusion that this was the long sought-after proof that Apple was intentionally crippling old devices through new software updates in an effort to sell new phones.

Now Apple is responding with an apology for not having clearly explained the situation… and with two promises.

First, an upcoming software update will let iPhone users see for themselves if their battery is affecting their phone’s performance. And second, Apple will drop the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement from $79 to $29 from January through December of 2018.


The issue doesn’t necessarily affect all iPhones. But if you’ve got an iPhone 6 or later and it’s got the latest version of iOS, then you’re probably affected.

Apple says it started throttling speeds under certain workloads about a year ago, when iOS 10.2.1 was released. The idea was to prevent batteries that had become degraded over time from affecting the performance of a device… and the thinking was that a temporary slowdown was probably better than an unexpected shutdown.

That’s probably true. But it would have also been nice if Apple had clearly explained what was happening at the time rather than just saying that the update helped prevent phones from unexpectedly powering off.

The good news is that replacing the battery with a new one resolves the issue: no shutdowns, and no slowdowns. The bad news is that you can’t easily buy a battery and swap it out yourself. I mean, you probably could, but Apple doesn’t make its phones easy to open up and if you don’t know what you’re doing there’s a good chance you could damage your device.

So that’s where those rather expensive $79 battery replacements come in. With Apple only promising to drop the price through the end of 2018, the company’s move sounds like an apology to existing iPhone users who are disappointed at the performance of iOS on older phones… but now that the company is clearly stating how its software works on phones with degraded batteries, it doesn’t look like the company plans to keep those prices low forever.

If you buy an iPhone in the future, Apple expects you to know that as the battery ages, you may see some slight performance hit in certain circumstances.

That could mean it takes longer for apps to launch, frame rate could be lower when scrolling, the backlight could be dimmed, the speaker could be quieter, and apps that are refreshing in the background may have be reloaded when you launch them again. In some extreme circumstances, the camera flash may even be disabled.

Apple says you may not even notice any change in some cases. But depending on how much power management is needed on a device-by-device basis, those forms of throttling could kick in.

Te company says cellular service, photo and video capture quality, GPS and location, Apple Pay, and sensors are never affected.

It’d be nice if Apple would promise to start selling phones with user replaceable batteries. But that ship has largely sailed. Aside from a few exceptions, phone makers have pretty much opted for thin and light over modular.

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12 replies on “Apple responds to iPhone throttling complaints, offers $29 battery replacements throughout 2018”

  1. gotta love it,,iphones made to slow down just in time to but the next yearly release…hey you iphone 7 running slow,,heres a new IX for a $1000 bucks (plus taxes fees) this should hold you till the next release next year…”golly gee , duh, duh, tanks a wot…what a cluster****.this annual sham is,

  2. Its exactly like the Android battery saver feature(when less than 15%) except Apple was too proud to admit that that its own batteries were identical to the ones in Android and in no way superior. Good intentions were behind it, but the users had a right to know. I still think there is a way to make phones waterproof and have user replaceable batteries. The companies just dont want to give people that option.

    1. Apple did not specifically say that it throttles below a specific fuel gauge percentage or at a specific battery temperature. That would be perfectly acceptable… owners should thank them in those cases. I suspect the worst when I see them dramatically cutting the replacement cost. It might have been throttling all the time.

  3. Do they offer an option to turn the throttling off in the settings? Did they update the terms & conditions to include a line “Apple might make your device slower via software updates whenever it pleases”? It’s nice you don’t have to spend a cheap Android phone’s price on a new battery now, but the original problem still was: why can Apple decide to slow down my phone remotely without my consent and why can’t I override that whit the device in my hands? If I happen to live several hundreds of km away from an Apple store or in a country where the phones are sold, but no iStore or whatever are present, then I’m still screwed. Which is the situation for millions of people.

    1. If enough people express interest in a setting control for throttling, Apple might consider it. That seems like a sensible idea. However, Apple is notoriously heavy-handed with control over their products and ecosystem. Apple can and will do whatever it likes to its phones. I’d be willing to bet that there is a clause buried somewhere in the terms of service that allows them to do that. Apple’s heavy-handed control is one of the main things I don’t like about them. It irks me that they make it extremely difficult to get older versions of apps and OSes (MacOS and iOS) even when the older versions have superior performance on the hardware. I understand that Apple’s iron grip on its ecosystem and hardware is a nonissue for some. My sister has Apple everything and she doesn’t give a rip about which OS her Mac or iPhone have. She upgrades her MacBook Pro and iPhone every year so this battery thing won’t affect her. So it all comes down to whether you want to be in an ecosystem where the company sets the pace, communicates what it feels like, and has strict rules on how they let you do things.

  4. I call BS. Whether it’s the truth or not, there needed to be transparency. I’ve always known something odd was going on as I’ve seen my friend’s iPhones (especially the 6) be beast and then miraculously slow down with no real addition of apps on there, but simply over time and the addition of the new iOS versions year over year. I’m used to phone slowdowns because I have been with Android since day 1 and let’s face it, when you chock a phone full of software it’ll slowdown usually. Nowadays they don’t have as much of an issue but with the iPhone it’s the exact opposite. All they need to slow down is time and a new OS and it was so obvious that people took notice. I own a 7 Plus and I gotta say I’m not a happy camper. I haven’t noticed any slowdown but this was the first phone I considered keeping for 2+ years and now here comes the news that with some battery wear the phone’s going to start throttling? No thanks. I also feel badly for all the folks who buy these things second or third hand – like people who buy the 6 right now off of ebay. Will Apple help those folks? Only time will tell I guess.

  5. This is why Note 4 (2014) owners cried for such a long-time, they had nothing to upgrade to.
    Hence the LG V20 which is one of the best devices of 2016, is still a reasonable purchase today.

    Maybe next year we can get a device that’s 4mm’s thin with a non-removable 1,500mAh battery.
    And we can add a secondary battery-case (+4mm’s) by contacts on the back (a la Moto Z) to add another 2,000-4,000 mAh, and have the battery both user replaceable, easy to swap, large capacity, and the phone waterproofed at a decent 8mm thickness.

  6. Given Apple’s macOS and iOS update issues recently, I wonder if the battery health software update in early 2018 will need a few revisions as well…

  7. I have my first phone without a user replaceable battery, and just today an i-fix-it site gave the instructions on how to replace the battery. They listed the complexity as moderate, but the very first step is so risky they indicated not to try it unless you had a replacement screen available. Then about 18 screws to remove the motherboard before you could get to the battery. That’s moderate?

    Fortunately, the phone is so inexpensive (a Moto G5 Plus) that I’ll never even try to replace the battery. So that’s why I was willing to go without that feature.

    1. I haven’t replaced the battery, but I’ve replaced the screen, the GPS antenna, and the Bluetooth/WiFi antenna on an iPhone. The antenna replacements would be much harder than a simple battery replacement and I didn’t think it was that hard. Slow and easy and it’s a cinch to replace!

  8. Excellent! I agree with you. The whole issue is really a matter of trust. Maybe other companies in the future will acknowledge this and follow suit.

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