You’ve probably heard the news by now – especially if you’re an iPhone user – that Apple admitted they do, in fact, slow down older iPhones with software updates. Of course, it isn’t as simple as that; they didn’t outright say that they slow down iPhones for no reason other than to get consumers to buy new iPhones, as many have suspected over the years. Rather, Apple claims that it’s purely preventative. Without the CPU throttling, the batteries in older phones can develop complications that cause the phone to shut down randomly.
On the one hand, I’m inclined to believe that does happen. My own sister recently complained that her iPhone 4S would randomly shut down despite her battery being at 30%.
On the other hand, I don’t think I’ve ever questioned that planned obsolescence was a common practice in the mobile industry. We’ve been conditioned since early on that smartphones need to be upgraded every two years. Once upon a time, these updates seemed necessary as smartphone technology rapidly progressed in those early days. Nowadays, it doesn’t feel as if they progress much more than incrementally. You know things are stagnant when manufacturers start to take features away just for the sake of change (yes, I’m talking about the headphone jack). Yet, somehow phones that are only one or two years old can feel like ancient relics because of how slow they’ve become, despite their blazing fast speeds when they were new out of the box not that long ago.
I’m not saying it’s right, but Apple certainly isn’t the only company doing it. They’re just the only company who has admitted to it, which is a real bummer because I’ve always liked the fact that iPhones are consistently supported by updates for three years. Now I question whether it’s worth keeping a phone updated for that long if they’re guaranteed to have a performance dip.
But then I also consider how my Android devices have been over the years. Consistent updates with Android devices are hit or miss, more often “miss” than “hit” in my experience. Even without the updates, however, my Android devices tend to slow down year after year. I always figured it was simply because the software was outdated. Sometimes a good old fashioned hard reset would fix the issue, but the slow down would return shortly after downloading any third-party apps, presumably because the apps are optimized for a newer operating system.
I can’t say I’m surprised, but I will admit I’m a little frustrated about this “revelation” if you can call it that. Apple’s reasoning behind slowing down their older iPhones is to preserve battery life, as battery deteriorates over time. Apple’s OS can detect when a battery has deteriorated past a certain point, thus throttling the CPU to reduce speeds to prevent the random shut downs. The fix? Replacing the battery with a new one, which most people won’t be able to do on their own because not only has Apple never made changing the battery easy, but new iPhones now have glass backs again. Not a good combination. Additionally, if anybody but Apple does any work on an iPhone, the warranty is voided. As a result, a lot of people probably just buy a new iPhone because they think their current phone is a hopeless case. So maybe it’s not outwardly a mission of planned obsolescence, but in a roundabout way, it kind of is.
With such a backlash coming from Apple’s confirmation, I wonder if it’s possible that the iPhone will come with a removable battery in the future. Probably not, but it seems like the easiest way to combat this problem. Plus, an iPhone with a removable battery would probably sell like mad.
Readers, what are your thoughts on this confirmation from Apple? Will you be switching manufacturers because of it, or will things remain unchanged for you?