Tech Friday: Apple slows down older iPhones. What to do?

Posted By on December 22, 2017

iphonebatteryThe big technology news this week  if you are an iPhone user is that Apple has a "feature" that slows down older iPhones with older batteries in order to protect users from unwanted crashes. Yes … your phone older phone will actually run slower.

According to CNET, the best option for owners of older iPhones is to:

  1. Buy a new phone
  2. Use a battery case
  3. Replace the battery

Of course the "new phone" is a bit drastic if the battery isn’t what it once was and your phone is still reasonable functional (iPhones 6s or 7s) … so perhaps a battery case would work?I used Mophie and Lenmar cases for years with the iPhone 5 and 5s believing they were the best few dollars I could have spent on a phone.

Now with the newer iPhone 7 (Brenda) and 7-plus (mine) … the battery life easily makes it through the entire day. I would be hard pressed to add the additional weight of a battery case to my Plus sized phone and would go for number 3 "when" my phones slows – replace the battery. If in my case it happens before Apple Care fades, it should be under warranty … if not, I might opt to open the case (voids the warranty).

CNET – The DIY Option:

BatteryREplacementHow hard can it be to replace an iPhone battery? Remove some screws, open up the case, take out the old battery, plug in the new one and you’re done, right?

Right. Except those screws are tiny. The case is hard to get open. Inside, you have to remove a bunch more screws and some fragile ribbon cables just to get to the battery. Which is glued in place. Then you have to do it all in reverse.

If you’ve never ventured inside an iPhone before, this can be some nerve-wracking surgery. It helps to have video-tutorial guidance (see below), but trust me when I say it’s easy to make a mistake. And if you flub along the way, you’ll brick your phone.

The DIY option, however, is definitely the cheapest. Replacement battery kits are available from Amazon, eBay and countless other sources, most of them priced anywhere from $10-$30. Personally, I recommend spending a few dollars more to buy from a reputable (and customer-reviewed) vendor on Amazon.

For example, this iPhone 6 Plus battery kit sells for about $30 and looks very similar to what you can find on eBay for about $11, but comes with detailed instructions (both print and video), a one-year warranty and customer support (via email). Of particular interest, it has a 4.5-star rating from over 150 customers, suggesting that a large majority of buyers were successful in their installation attempt and happy with the result.

Although this and similar kits come with the tools you need, I definitely recommend adding a tabletop magnifying lamp to the mix. For my aging eyes, at least, it greatly simplifies working with the iPhone’s tiny screws and cables.

As for the battery itself, it’s a crap-shoot: Ideally you want something that’s "genuine OEM," but it’s hard to be certain what you’re getting. That’s all the more reason to spend a little extra and go with a rated vendor.


  • And Apple says …

    iPhone Battery and Performance
    Understand iPhone performance and its relation to your battery.

    Our intention for iPhone is to deliver an experience that is simple and easy to use. Doing so requires a lot of engineering and many advanced technologies. One important technology area is battery and performance. Batteries are a complex technology, and there are a number of variables that contribute to battery performance and related iPhone performance. All rechargeable batteries are consumables and have a limited lifespan—eventually their capacity and performance decline so that they need to be serviced or recycled. As this happens, it can contribute to changes in iPhone performance. We created this information for those who would like to learn more.

    About lithium-ion batteries
    iPhone batteries use lithium-ion technology. Compared with older generations of battery technology, lithium-ion batteries charge faster, last longer, and have a higher power density for more battery life in a lighter package. Rechargeable lithium-ion technology currently provides the best technology for your device. Learn more about lithium-ion batteries.

    How to maximize battery performance
    “Battery life” is the amount of time a device runs before it needs to be recharged. “Battery lifespan” is the amount of time a battery lasts until it needs to be replaced. One factor affecting battery life and lifespan is the mix of things you do with your device. No matter how you use it, there are ways to help. A battery’s lifespan is related to its “chemical age,” which is more than just the passage of time. It includes different factors, such as the number of charge cycles and how it was cared for. Follow these tips to maximize battery performance and to help extend battery lifespan. For example, keep iPhone half-charged when it’s stored for the long term. Also avoid charging or leaving iPhone in hot environments including direct sun exposure for extended periods of time.

    When batteries chemically age
    All rechargeable batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age.

    As lithium-ion batteries chemically age, their ability to hold a charge diminishes. This may result in shorter amounts of time before a device needs to be recharged. In addition, a battery’s ability to provide power quickly may decrease. In order for a phone to function properly, the electronics must be able to draw upon instantaneous power from the battery. One attribute that affects this instantaneous power delivery is the battery’s impedance. A battery with a high impedance is unable to provide power quickly enough to the system that needs it. A battery’s impedance can increase if a battery has a higher chemical age. A battery’s impedance will temporarily increase at a low state of charge and in a cold temperature environment. When coupled with a higher chemical age, the impedance increase will be more significant. These are characteristics of battery chemistry which are common to all lithium-ion batteries in the industry.

    When power is pulled from a battery with a higher level of impedance, the battery’s voltage will drop to a greater degree. Electronic components require a minimum voltage to operate. This includes the device’s internal storage, power circuits, and the battery itself. The power management system determines the capability of the battery to supply this power, and manages the loads in order to maintain operations. When the operations can no longer be supported with the full capabilities of the power management system, the system will perform a shutdown to preserve these electronic components. While this shutdown is intentional from the device perspective, it may be unexpected by the user.

    Preventing unexpected shutdowns
    With a low battery state of charge, a higher chemical age, or colder temperatures, users are more likely to experience unexpected shutdowns. In extreme cases, shutdowns can occur more frequently, thereby rendering the device unreliable or unusable. iOS 10.2.1 (Released January 2017) includes updates for previous models of iPhone to prevent them from unexpectedly shutting down. This includes a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE to dynamically manage the instantaneous performance peaks, only when needed, to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down. This capability was also extended to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus with iOS 11.2, and we will continue improving our power management feature in the future. This feature’s only intent is to prevent unexpected shutdowns so that the iPhone can still be used.

    This power management works by looking at a combination of the device temperature, battery state of charge, and the battery’s impedance. Only if these variables require it, iOS will dynamically manage the maximum performance of some system components, such as the CPU and GPU in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns. As a result, the device workloads will self-balance, allowing a smoother distribution of system tasks, rather than larger, quick spikes of performance all at once. 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.

    In cases that require more extreme forms of this power management, the user may notice effects such as:

    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
    Many key areas are not impacted by this power management feature. Some of these include:

    Cellular call quality and networking throughput performance
    Captured photo and video quality
    GPS performance
    Location accuracy
    Sensors like gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer
    Apple Pay
    Get further assistance
    For a low battery state of charge and colder temperatures, power management changes are temporary. If a device battery has chemically aged far enough, power management changes may be more lasting. This is because all rechargeable batteries are consumables and have a limited lifespan, eventually needing to be serviced or recycled. If you are impacted by this and would like to improve your device performance, replacing your device battery can help.

    Learn more about battery service and recycling.

    Published Date: Dec 28, 2017

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.