Apple's iPhone Performance Throttling Stirs Debate in User Community

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Apple's iPhone Performance Throttling Stirs Debate in User Community

Apple is in some hot water over the iPhone’s battery. Following a string of complaints of poor iPhone performance in older models including the iPhone 6 and Phone 6s, benchmarking toolmaker Geekbench decided to find out what was really going on. The company discovered that Apple issued a software update that throttles iPhone performance under specific conditions. Apple confirmed that it had released such an update, but said that the tweaks it made to iPhone performance and battery life were necessary to ensure “the best experience for customers.” Now there's a heated debate among iPhone users about Apple’s motives for the move and how it will affect the performance of their phones going forward. This slide show look at all sides of the iPhone performance throttling issue.

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The Battery Problem Originated in 2016

This story starts in earnest in 2016, when users complained on Apple support forums and other sites around the Web that their batteries were malfunctioning and their smartphones would shut down even when there appeared to be sufficient battery life left. The problem appeared to have affected mainly iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s handsets.

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Apple Acknowledged an iPhone 6S Battery Life Problem

It took some time, but Apple eventually decided in late 2016 to launch a battery replacement program for iPhone 6s. The company said at the time that affected users—a “relatively small batch” in total—would be eligible for a free battery replacement. All others, including iPhone 6 owners who were complaining of the same problem, were out of luck.

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Apple Released iOS Updates to Try to Fix Problem

Since then, Apple released some software updates to iOS 10 and iOS 11 that the company said, would address iPhone battery problems. Those updates appeared to have corrected the random shutdowns and no longer made users believe that they had more battery life left when their iPhones would shut down.

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Complaints About Performance Problems Circulate

In recent months, users have complained about performance problems after updating their iPhones to the latest Apple software. They said that their devices would turn sluggish and apps would slow down. In some cases, users said that their iPhones would become practically unusable.

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Geekbench Starts Testing

After hearing about performance problems, Geekbench, a company that provides benchmarking tools to measure processor performance, conducted its own tests. Geekbench  discovered that the software appeared to artificially throttle iPhone performance. The problem, in other words, wasn’t the iPhone hardware, but rather the software update Apple that throttled the iPhone’s processor performance to try to extend battery life.

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The Same iOS Tweaks Show Up in iPhone 7 models

Geekbench discovered that the problem didn’t just affect the iPhone 6s line of handsets. In fact, Apple made the same software tweaks on the iPhone 7. That meant iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus users would also be affected by sluggish performance when their batteries would start to act up.

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Geekbench Findings Have Users Up in Arms

The Geekbench findings quickly went viral and prompted widespread complaints from users far and wide. They chiefly complained that Apple secretly throttled their handsets and was using a “planned obsolescence” technique to fool them into believing their smartphones were going bad and would need to be updated to new hardware. Apple ulterior motive was to sell new iPhone, not fix the battery life problem its software update, some users asserted.

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Apple Responds to Criticism

Apple responded as online complaints snowballed. The company acknowledged that its implemented software updates to alter device performance. However, Apple said that the feature, which affects iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE, and iPhone 7 devices, is designed to improve “overall performance and prolong the life” of its handsets. Apple said that lithium-ion battery performance declines over time and in hot and cold conditions and that its update would ameliorate those natural problems.

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The Feature Is Coming Elsewhere

But Apple wasn’t done. In addition to explaining how the software update works, Apple said that it plans to add the performance tweak to "other products in the future.” So, the same software features that appear to cause iPhones to slowdown under certain conditions when the battery isn’t performing well, will likely find their way to iPhone 8, iPhone X, and other devices in the future.

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Apple's Statement Stirs Debate in User Community

Since Apple acknowledged the software tweaks, user reactions have been mixed. Some users say that Apple is acting with a heavy hand and shouldn’t have made those tweaks. Others say Apple is following its stated goal of delivering uniformly solid performance and used the software update to ensure that. But the debate is likely to continue and Apple may have to respond to additional user criticism.

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