Apple was shown (and later admitted) to have used recent iOS updates to reduce the performance of the older iPhones (iPhone 6, 6s and SE, and iPhone 7 in latest release). This is only kicks in when the battery is getting old in terms of lifespan, and can be brought back up to speed with a replacement battery.
Apples response to reduced performance, published December 28th
First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.
Its good that they have made this statement, but reducing perfomance unannouced seems to have been an odd thing to have done, that was bound to have caused a backlash.
The technical part of the problem is that older iPhones with old batteries can shut down during high performance tasks, before battery replacement is warned about. It looks like Apple, seeing this as a mere bug fix, silently altered iOS to address the shutting down problem,
As an owner of a (fairly new) iPhone SE, I’m actually glad this is a feature, and the new visibility planned for iOS on battery health should aid in knowing how this is effecting my device. I’d rather have a phone that at least worked at reasonable performance all day than having to recharge halfway through. Coming from a Nexus 5 which started out quite well but then in the last year slowed to a crawl and often needed a boost charge to keep going, and that was with fairly light usage.
This again has reignited the debates around planned obsolesce. That tech manufactures limit the lifespan and usefulness of hardware to encourage people to always buy the latest model. Apple seems to bear the brunt of this, especially with the image of people queuing up to always get the latest Apple gadget, and that their hardware has gone in a more and more towards sealed contained units (even the batteries can’t officially be replaced yourself) and less expandability and less ability to fix it yourself compared to other hardware manufactures.
The deliberate reduction of performance for older devices without notifying and explaining the reason beforehand is an own goal on Apples part that looks like it will land them in quite a bit of hard water.
In France, Apple is now being sued (with potential Jail time for execs) because of Frances anti planned obsolesce laws.
HOP believes that the US firm can be sued over the sale of all iPhones in France since the introduction of a law in August 2015 that made it a crime to “deliberately reduce the lifespan of a product to increase the rate of replacement.”
I don’t know how far this legal action will go, and many other similar suits because of this action. I do think the concept of anti planned obsolesce laws are a good thing though. Hardware should be built to last to help reduce electronic waste amongst other issues.
From personal experience though, Apple hardware does outlast any other hardware I’ve owned. My old iBook G4 lasted 5 years as a main computer (its reoccurring memory problems the result of a bad third party RAM). My 2008 Macbook is still working, my current Macbook Pro dates from 2014 and is still running fairly smoothly, no matter what I throw at it software wise. My iPad 2 still performs well enough for watching video, though admittedly many apps now crash on launch, I think many app developers would rather ditch old hardware support which is a bit of a shame. By contrast many of the other computers and phones I have had previously, and there where all fairly decent devices, became unusable after a couple of years main usage.
I’m certainly not one who queues up to get the latest new Apple shiny. I tend to at least try to use any Hardware for 2 — 3 years as a main device, and want to get many more years use out of it. Others experience will vary, and opinions of how to look after hardware through its lifespan, whether thats self repair or just being able to drop it off to the Apple shop for repair and service. If self service and longevity are your thing then Fairphone seems a much better device to invest in. I know a few people with them that have upgraded the camera module and done some self repair. For me I just needed a device that worked, but its good to know there are other options, which can then encourage more main stream manufactures, including Apple to do better in this regard.