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Apple Addresses 'Throttling' Concern

21 December 2017
Image credit: rawpixel/CC0 Creative Commons.

According to an article recently posted on TechCrunch, Apple has addressed users' longstanding suspicions that their older smartphones are being "throttled," or intentionally slowed down. Throttling, at least in network terms, is one of the biggest concerns about the recent FCC vote to repeal net neutrality. The imagined reason here is a little different: iPhone users have imagined that the slowdown is happening within the CPU as an attempt to get them to upgrade to the latest models.

Of course, Apple says that's not the reason and TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino believes them — since going down this road "would likely lead to tangles of a governmental and legal nature that no company like Apple would ever want to happen."

In a statement to Panzarino, Apple says that a power curve-smoothing feature released last year for some older models running iOS 10.2.1 (iPhone 6, 6s, SE) is designed to address the limitations of spent lithium-ion batteries and prevent unexpected device shut-downs. And the company has recently extended that feature to the newer iPhone 7 running iOS 11.2 — and will implement it in future iPhones going forward as well.

So, it’s not network or CPU throttling causing the slowdowns; it’s a protective power-management feature built into the operating system. Panzarino says that this is not really “throttling” at all, and adds that this is really a lithium-ion chemistry issue — not an Apple issue. Even if the battery isn’t old, he adds, other factors such as repeated exposure to heat can make it prematurely spent.

In any event, it sounds like the fix is a lot simpler than upgrading to a new-model phone: Users just need to replace their phone batteries, although they should review Apple’s tips on maximizing battery performance to get a better sense of whether their device is really due. According to MacRumors.com, the iPhone battery is designed to retain 80 percent of its original capacity at 500 complete charge cycles; a defective battery that does not meet those parameters can be replaced for free if still under warranty — or through a $79 battery service if not.

That’s a heck of a lot more reasonable than shelling out for a new iPhone X.

To contact the author of this article, email tony.pallone@ieeeglobalspec.com


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