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: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds282449
DeSoto186519
Madison141936
Jones118549
Harrison109615
Rankin106315
Neshoba103976
Forrest97243
Lauderdale95481
Scott80915
Jackson74418
Washington70010
Copiah64215
Leake62120
Lee60022
Oktibbeha58928
Holmes57941
Warren57720
Grenada5698
Wayne56018
Yazoo5486
Lowndes53613
Leflore52856
Lamar5227
Lincoln51935
Pike48820
Sunflower4708
Lafayette4644
Monroe43935
Panola4326
Covington4295
Bolivar39418
Simpson3843
Attala38324
Newton36710
Adams34719
Pontotoc3396
Tate33313
Marion32412
Claiborne30011
Winston29611
Chickasaw29319
Pearl River28132
Noxubee2778
Marshall2763
Jasper2716
Clay25611
Walthall2497
Union24611
Smith23712
Coahoma2196
Clarke21725
Lawrence2022
Yalobusha2028
Kemper18314
Tallahatchie1784
Carroll17411
Humphreys16110
Calhoun1605
Montgomery1513
Itawamba1458
Tippah14411
Hancock14113
Webster13411
Jefferson1223
Tunica1213
Jefferson Davis1184
Prentiss1173
George1123
Greene11210
Amite1083
Quitman971
Tishomingo971
Wilkinson969
Alcorn942
Perry794
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin542
Sharkey470
Benton440
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 85°
Columbus
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 78°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather