Update: In an interview with ABC News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said a new software update in coming months will provide you with more insight into your iPhone's battery health, allowing you to know when you might experience a slowdown. There will also be a way to turn off the feature that can cause this slowdown, which kicks in to manage your iPhone performance as your battery worsens over time.
Update: According to Mac Rumors, Apple will replace iPhone 6 and 6S batteries for $29 (UK price TBC) regardless of whether the phone passes its Genius Bar diagnostic test. In response to backlash from consumers about battery performance, Apple issued a public apology in a post on its website last week, and clarified what it calls a misunderstanding:
"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."
The post first explains how and why the iPhone's rechargeable batteries age, noting that natural wear over time and how you use your iPhone (" leaving or charging a battery in a hot environment can cause a battery to age faster") can impact the process.
It goes on to address the issue that spurred the backlash: Apple released a software update within iOS 10.2.1 that managed iPhone performance during "peak workloads", effectively causing some apps to take longer to load and other slowdowns. Apple says the update was intended to reduce the risk of phones unexpectedly shutting down.
But when iOS 11 was released in September, more people started taking to Twitter bemoaning poor battery performance. In addition to some small bugs (which Apple says have since been fixed) and the power required to update to a new iOS, Apple says there may be another factor at play: "We now believe that another contributor to these user experiences is the continued chemical ageing of the batteries in older iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s devices, many of which are still running on their original batteries."
If you have iPhone 6 or 6s, you might be noticing some battery strain. In this case, the best thing to do is to replace your old battery or upgrade. If an upgrade feels too costly, you can rest assured knowing that a battery replacement is now much more cost effective: Apple has dropped the price from $79 to $29 for out-of-warranty replacements. A new software update in 2018 will provide further details about your phone's battery performance so you can take steps to keep it in peak shape moving forward.
The firm will also cut prices around the world, but has not yet revealed the pricing outside the US. Currently a replacement battery costs £79 in the UK.
This piece was originally published on December 22, 2017.
Every time Apple releases a new iPhone model, you can expect to see certain suspicions expressed across Twitter. These concerns are not related to the latest iPhone, but rather older models: Many people notice that their iPhones seem to slow down, and the battery worsen. For both occurrences, consumers believe Apple does it deliberately as a way to force them into upgrading to the new iPhone.
For the first time, Apple has sort of validated these suspicions. Thanks in part to a Reddit post about slow, older iPhones that went viral last week, Apple issued a statement to TechCrunch on Wednesday. In it, they confirm the existence of a feature that manages battery power "when needed" — resulting in a slowdown — to preserve the life of a battery as it ages and prevent iPhones from unexpectedly shutting down. The feature was rolled out to iPhone 6, 6s, and SE last year, and has since been extended to the iPhone 7 with the release of iOS 11.2.
Before you charge Apple with plotting against you, however, it's important to remember that all batteries, including the Lithium-ion batteries in iPhones, worsen in performance as they get older. Apple acknowledges this on a support page about "battery service and recycling." The more complete charge cycles your iPhone goes through, the lower the battery capacity will become. So the company's way of ensuring a battery can handle power demands over time is not related to the release of a new iPhone.
However, there's already been some fallout from Apple's statement. The BBC reports that two class action lawsuits have been filed against the company in California and Chicago from people claiming the company both withheld important consumer information, and calling for compensation for prior purchases of new batteries.
Regardless of what happens with the lawsuits, the incident has made one thing very clear: Although Apple provides useful consumer tips for maximizing battery life, it should have been transparent about what it does on its own end to manage battery life.