Apple admits to throttling iPhone CPU speed as battery ages

Apple has confirmed that its iOS operating system deliberately slows the processor speeds of iPhones as they get older and the batteries deteriorate, prompting anger from some, who say Apple is just trying to trick customers into buying new devices.

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Some users reported seeing their phone’s performance more than cut in half as the device aged.

While iPhone users had suspected that Apple throttled performance for some time, the company confirmed the rumor to The Verge — though it said it was about aging batteries, not the devices themselves. In a statement, Apple told them:

"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

"Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future."

Perhaps more than any other device, iPhone batteries are especially tricky to replace.

Per Apple, inside the first year, a new battery is under warranty. After the first year (unless you've got the right Applecare plan), that becomes an $80 repair. While it's possible to do your own battery replacement, it's a delicate and complicated surgery at the risk of doing seriously expensive harm to the device. (In short, hope you're good with jeweler's screwdrivers.)

For Apple, it doesn't look great. Before the company confirmed that it slowed the processor on phones with decaying batteries, it appeared as if the company was just slowing old phones to hasten their replacements. Some people believe that's still the motive.