If you’ve ever owned an iPhone, you may have noticed that the device tends to slow down as it gets older. At first glance this might seem like a natural occurrence. After all, any piece of technology inevitably grows to be obsolete, no matter how advanced it appeared when it was first introduced. But the way that iPhones drop in performance has frustrated customers since the iconic product launched in 2007. Then last month, a group of Internet investigators discovered that the device’s decline wasn’t an accident but a deliberate design feature.
The problem stems from the iPhone’s lithium-ion batteries, which degrade over time due to constant recharging. This causes the device to run out of power faster as well as randomly shut down if it gets overloaded with data. To prevent this from happening, Apple recently installed software that gradually slows down the smartphone’s processing power so that it won’t overwhelm the battery. The company didn’t inform customers about this fact, though, leading a group of Reddit sleuths to discover the change on their own. This quickly caused an Internet uproar with angry customers accusing Apple of purposely sabotaging iPhones so that users would upgrade to new models.
The company denied these claims, of course, saying that it was only trying to prevent random shutdowns from occurring. Still, Apple recognized that the miscommunication had damaged its reputation, especially after getting hit with three class-action lawsuits in quick succession. In order to make amends, the company is offering to replace old batteries in the iPhone 6, 6s, SE and 7 models for just $29 through the end of 2018. Besides losing a lot of money directly from this $50 discount, Apple could also see future sales decline as people restore their old devices to their former glory. For instance, someone who is enjoying the full capabilities of their iPhone 7 after replacing the battery will not likely want to upgrade to the iPhone X anytime soon.
- Could Apple have done anything differently to avoid the uproar caused by this iPhone battery issue?
- How could this battery discount affect Apple’s long-term outlook?
Source: Geoffrey A. Fowler, “Run, Don’t Walk, to Replace Your iPhone Battery for $29,” The Washington Post, January 4, 2018; Geoffrey A. Fowler, “Apple Slows Your iPhone as the Battery Ages, but Doesn’t Give You a Cheap Way to Replace It,” The Washington Post, December 20, 2017. Photo by Kārlis Dambrāns.