Apple has apologised for intentionally slowing down iPhones to counter the effects of battery degradation in a memo to customers.
The apology explains that there has been a “misunderstanding” about the battery issue and then gives a lengthy explanation of how lithium-ion batteries age.
“All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age and their ability to hold a charge diminishes. Time and the number of times a battery has been charged are not the only factors in this chemical aging process.” Apple explains.
The memo goes on to explain the reduced performance was an attempt to stop “unexpected shutdowns” caused by iPhone batteries that are no longer able to deliver peak energy loads.
“About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.” The statement continues.
In an attempt to extend an olive branch to angered users, Apple is now offering reduced price battery replacements ($29, down from $79) and promising a future update that gives more detail about battery health.
How, exactly, Apple’s admission and subsequent apology will play out with the public is yet to be seen. Apple forums on Reddit are already questioning what state a battery needs to be in to qualify for a discounted replacement, which could be flash point in the near future.
Apple is also facing multiple, extensive lawsuits after it admitted to intentionally slowing down iPhones, most of which claim Apple misled customers.
Apple, for its part, argued that update 10.2.1 was intended to improve performance of devices with depleted batteries, rather than an attempt to force users to buy new devices - otherwise known as planned obsolescence. A practice which is illegal in some countries.
Regardless of its intent, Apple will likely have a lot of PR work to makeup for this revelation. The news confirms long-held fears that Apple slows down old devices and has likely reached most non-savvy technology consumers, but the explanation for why it slows down devices may have been lost as the news has filtered down.