Apple did the right thing last week, addressing its own iPhone slowdown mess by apologizing to users and offering battery replacements that are significantly cheaper than before. That said, as a long-time iPhone user, I still have issues with Apple’s apology, especially given that Apple plans to keep throttling iPhones for the foreseeable future.
I already explained what I think are the main problems with Apple’s way of fixing iPhone slowdowns, and that only made me realize one more thing: I don’t want the iPhone to be the fastest phone available if Apple plans to slow it down after a year of regular use.
Save for some significant battery tech breakthrough that Apple may surprise us with in the coming years, it looks like Apple plans to keep slowing down any phones with old batteries. Even the iPhone 7 was included in the list of affected devices and it’s just one generation old.
Apple does not explain whether the iPhone 8 and iPhone X will get the exact same treatment by late 2018. It’d be great for Apple to give users a way to decide for themselves whether they want to slow down the iPhone, or not. I know I’d hate for my iPhone X experience to deteriorate after just a year. Yes, I’d probably change the battery, but I’d like to be able to control how I use the device until that actually happens, even if I’d have to deal with unexpected shutdowns as a consequence.
If nothing changes and we don’t get to see any major battery charging innovations in the future, then Apple may continue to throttled future A-series chips whenever iPhone batteries begin to age.
Why then have the fastest, most powerful mobile processor inside new iPhones every generation if those devices will be throttled in a year or so? It’s not like iOS releases and future apps will be any less demanding. The more powerful the iPhone becomes, the better games and apps we’ll get in the future, including all the augmented reality and mixed reality apps enabled by ARKit that will require plenty of processing power. And if you’ve already played a new AR game on the iPhone X, you probably noticed how fast the battery drains, and how warm the phone gets while those apps are in use.
Since the iPhone slowdown issue has been discovered, Apple has explained exactly what happens when an iPhone is slowed down. Here’s a list of actions iOS takes to prevent shutdowns:
- Longer app launch times
- Lower frame rates while scrolling
- Backlight dimming (which can be overridden in Control Center)
- Lower speaker volume by up to -3dB
- Gradual frame rate reductions in some apps
- During the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI
- Apps refreshing in background may require reloading upon launch
Apple says not all iPhone users will notice slowdowns:
In some cases, a user may not notice any differences in daily device performance. The level of perceived change depends on how much power management is required for a particular device.
But no matter what Apple says in the documentation it posted online, it’s absolutely clear that people do notice their iPhone getting slower than usual. That’s why there have been “conspiracy theories” for all these years, and why this whole ordeal was discovered in the first place. In the future, people will notice if the resource-intensive apps they love aren’t as responsive and fluid as before.
What I’m saying is that I’d like to be in charge of iPhone CPU power management. That way, I’d be able to switch it on and off based on my needs at any given time. I’d like to be informed that I should replace the battery, I’d like the actual replacement process to be painless and affordable. What I’m really saying is that I never want to think about whether or not this extremely powerful computer in my pocket can actually take advantage of the latest app innovations as it get older.