Yes, Apple is slowing your old iPhone. But it's not a conspiracy

So now Apple has confirm...

Posted: Dec 22, 2017 10:42 AM
Updated: Dec 22, 2017 10:42 AM

So now Apple has confirmed what customers have long complained about: When you upgrade the software on your old iPhone, it can make it run slower.

But the upgrade doesn't always make that happen. It's only if the battery is in poor condition, so that it can't retain enough charge to handle a sudden surge in demand from the processor. (Phone processors don't work flat-out all the time; it helps the battery life enormously if they cut their power demands until it's needed.) The deliberate slowdown is being treated by consumers as evidence of a grand conspiracy by Apple to make people upgrade their phones. But consumers are wrong.

What used to happen was that you'd be using your aging iPhone, you'd upgrade the software, and then when you were getting low on charge, and, say, you began playing a game that made big demands of the processor, then the phone would abruptly shut off.

When Apple realized this was happening (because it could see it from the data sent anonymously back about phone performance), it added some code into later releases, so that if the processor made those hefty demands of the battery, it would be slowed down. That seems to have been added in February 2017, with iOS 10.2.1, which stopped "sudden shutdowns" of iPhone 6S models.

Yes, Apple is doing it on purpose. And it hasn't been telling people about it; people have been inferring that something is slowing their phones down, and that it's the new software. Correct, so far.

But it's the third step -- that Apple is doing it to make you buy a new phone -- that's wrong. Apple's actually trying to help you hang on to your old phone for as long as possible, but it has screwed up how it tells you about that. In fact, it hasn't told you that at all, which is poor communication.

Apple has had years to explain this, but hasn't. There isn't even an onscreen message or display until your phone's battery is perilously close to permanent death.

The crazy thing is, if you're using an Apple laptop, then you do get a message telling you that the battery is dying. That's what happened a few months ago with my 2012 laptop. I took it in, got the battery replaced, and pretty much had a brand new laptop, cleaned and everything.

Clearly, Apple does know how to tell its users the battery on their fabulously expensive device is dying, or even ill. But on the phone and tablet it doesn't. It should. Apple says its phones are "designed to retain up to 80% of their original charge capacity over 500 complete charge cycles."

For the iPad and Apple Watch, it's 1,000 charge cycles. So, it's probably not surprising that people complain about their phones seeming to slow down after 18 months or so, and definitely after two years: By then, you're well past 500 daily charging cycles. (For the iPad, it's about three years, which is probably why you don't hear those owners complaining in the same way.)

So, iPhone owners generally won't see a slowdown the first time they get one of Apple's big annual updates (eg an iPhone 6S owner going from iOS 9 to iOS 10 during 2016) but will the next year (to iOS 11).

Apple does offer a battery replacement program, which costs $79 in the United States. I've seen some people on social media suggesting it should be free on phones over a certain age. I suspect Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Wall Street, would faint at the idea: The more phones Apple sold, the bigger the liability would be; and no rival offers free batteries. Apple might be exceptional, but shareholders would view this as simply setting fire to money. (My laptop's replacement wasn't free.) As ideas go, that's definitely one that deserves an early shutdown.

One question that's raised here: Why don't owners of Android phone complain about slowdowns? Where's the social media outrage about that? Surprising fact: They do. If you search for "Android update slower" or similar, you'll find people grumbling on Twitter and elsewhere about how a new update has slowed down their phone. But because Android phones don't get the monolithic upgrades that Apple does -- in fact, it's almost pot luck if such phones ever get upgraded (with the extra security and new features such upgrades bring) -- you don't see the same noise about it.

The fact is still that Apple has done a poor job of explaining to people what it was doing, and why. Figuring out how to improve that will be something for Cook and the team to chew over along with the holiday meal. As lots of technology companies have learned over the past year, it's not enough to write clever code; you have to find the best way to explain it to the humans who will be affected by it.

But at least now you have an idea why your email is so slow to load. Then again, was there anything in there you really wanted?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96032

Reported Deaths: 2894
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7063159
DeSoto552159
Harrison382973
Jackson345670
Madison326586
Rankin325677
Lee268368
Jones246879
Forrest245571
Washington221972
Lafayette215439
Lauderdale2044125
Bolivar182366
Oktibbeha177350
Lamar167534
Neshoba1559104
Lowndes152658
Panola146328
Sunflower144546
Warren140250
Leflore139581
Pontotoc125916
Pike123050
Monroe122168
Scott117327
Copiah117133
Coahoma115028
Holmes109558
Marshall109217
Lincoln108353
Grenada107736
Yazoo105530
Simpson102544
Union99324
Tate97637
Leake95338
Adams93037
Wayne89421
Pearl River87353
Marion85735
Prentiss84417
Covington81922
Itawamba79421
Alcorn79111
Newton76723
George76513
Tallahatchie76321
Winston73719
Tishomingo67238
Chickasaw67024
Tippah66517
Attala65425
Walthall59825
Clay58918
Clarke58145
Hancock57721
Jasper56815
Noxubee54816
Smith53114
Calhoun51312
Tunica48313
Claiborne46216
Montgomery45920
Lawrence43112
Yalobusha42814
Perry41918
Humphreys37615
Quitman3725
Stone37012
Greene36617
Jefferson Davis33911
Webster33613
Amite32510
Carroll31512
Wilkinson30318
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2252
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19441349
Mobile13271291
Montgomery8778179
Madison775480
Tuscaloosa7496119
Shelby584951
Lee582961
Baldwin516550
Marshall390944
Calhoun346641
Etowah342047
Morgan325428
Houston278123
Elmore263247
DeKalb239120
Walker228483
St. Clair227837
Talladega212728
Limestone206120
Cullman188519
Dallas177426
Franklin175529
Russell17442
Autauga173825
Lauderdale168233
Colbert163626
Blount159415
Escambia158425
Jackson154611
Chilton153531
Dale135444
Covington134427
Coffee13078
Pike11879
Chambers115142
Tallapoosa114685
Clarke107717
Marion95729
Butler91339
Barbour8577
Winston73712
Marengo70820
Lowndes65327
Pickens65114
Bibb64210
Randolph63713
Hale62828
Lawrence60922
Geneva5995
Bullock59814
Cherokee59115
Monroe5818
Clay5707
Washington55613
Perry5407
Conecuh53111
Crenshaw53132
Wilcox53111
Henry4865
Macon48020
Fayette4438
Sumter43419
Lamar3632
Choctaw34612
Cleburne3396
Greene30315
Coosa1673
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