Apple Acknowledges That Older iPhones Slow Down To Deal With Aging Batteries

Apple has acknowledged that the company slows the operations of older phones to help device batteries continue to perform as they age.

’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 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 Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been under fire from consumers who complain that their iPhones slow down as they upgrade their devices' software – a move seen by many as a way to push customers to buy newer, quicker iPhones.

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A recent blog post from processor benchmarking company Geekbench, which showed that older phones operate faster if they are using older software versions, amplified these concerns.

However, Apple said in a statement to The Verge that it is slowing down processors not to push customers to upgrade to new phones, but because it makes it easier for older batteries in iPhones to continue performing after they started aging. iPhones essentially hit peaks of processing power that the battery cannot keep up with as they age.

"If Apple can show that the slowdowns are relative to the number of cycles that a battery has – which is information that an iPhone likely tracks, since Macs do so already – then there might be some truth to their claims," said Michael Oh, chief technology officer and founder of TSP, a Boston-based Apple partner.

Apple said in the statement that last year the company released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE aimed at "smoothing out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions."

"We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future," said the company in the statement.

Apple did not respond to a request from CRN for further comment by publication time.

"I'm not surprised by this… Apple is very secretive; people definitely worry that they push them to their newer technologies," said Michael Hadley, CEO of Boston-based Apple partner iCorps Technologies. "For instance, people wonder if they took away the capabilities of iTunes to try to push users onto [Apple Music]. I think they have to be careful."

However, Hadley said that he didn't think the fact that older iPhones slow down would disrupt sales of the newer iPhone 8 or iPhone X models.

"I don't think they'd lose customers [to Samsung] … if you're an Apple love, you're an Apple lover. It's a way of life," he said.