The tacky issue of iPhone performance slowdown

The problem of the slowdown of iPhone Models 7 and earlier has been brewing since December 2017, but seems to have gained some momentum recently as the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) have reportedly begun investigating the issue and Apple’s handling of it.

The problem apparently surfaced when numerous iPhone customers lodged complaints with Apple, the manufacturer of iPhone, regarding observed slowing down of their phones in carrying out desired functions. The performance degradation phenomenon, which afflicted older models of iPhones, appears to get worse with time. Apple eventually disclosed that it had issued a software update that tried to manage power over performance in older iPhones with dying batteries. The problem has been observed elsewhere besides America, such as in Europe and Asia.

The DOJ and SEC are trying to determine whether or not Apple violated securities laws pertaining to the company’s disclosures about the software update that resulted in slowing down older models of iPhone. Moreover, the investigation wants to determine if Apple had misled investors about the performance of older iPhones. The event has resulted in a decline of the stock price of the company.

Apple seems to have a good intention initially. A few weeks ago, the company had to reveal that a software update it released in early 2017 resulted in the slowing down of the performance of older iPhones; in exchange for the phones suddenly shutting down on their own. Note that when the update was released in early 2017, Apple did not tell consumers that they would be experiencing performance deterioration in their phones. In December 2017, however, apparently under mounting pressures from consumers, Apple apologized for the omission, vowing to release a fix for the problem.

The slowdown in performance will not be noticed if the battery in your phone is new or in top shape. That is, the slowdown occurs when battery life reaches a certain threshold amount; meaning that the performance issue can be avoided if a new battery is installed at the critical condition. However, users do not know when this critical condition occurs. Unable to continuously wing the situation, Apple had to come clean at some point, offering a public apology and issuing a discount in the prices of battery replacements in its stores by over fifty percent. 

The following is the official statement of Apple on the matter: “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.”

The users affected are those with iPhone 6, 6S, SE, and 7. However, the manifestation may be different for different phones. For example, iPhone 7, which is powered by the A10 processor, has low power but high power cores, with the latter being used ninety percent of the time. Thus, in this case, you may not notice performance degradation unless you are running some CPU-intensive applications such as computer games or video editing.

Whether or not you are affected actually depends on your phone model and the age of your battery wear. To determine whether you are affected, follow these instructions which have been taken from Reddit: “You can check this for sure by using an app called CPUdasher X that is no longer free, now being $0.99. You can check this by scrolling down to CPU Frequency. The 6 is supposed to be 1400, the 6S 1848, and the 7 2350. As far as I know, there is no other alternative to this. You can, however, do a geek bench or Antutu test to tell you what your CPU score is compared to what it should be, but it won’t tell you your clock speed.”

How do you fix the iPhone performance problem alluded to in this article? You basically have to replace your battery! You can do this yourself, following the instructions in iFixit.com. You may also ask a third-party company to do it for you at a cost; or pay Apple to do it. As you probably know, anytime you or a third-party agent opens up an Apple product to replace parts, you automatically lose Apple warranty for your device!

In conclusion, Apple appears to have a good intention initially, which is to use software to ramp down the death of your phone as the battery life goes down, thereby preventing a sudden shutdown (of your phone). However, the manner in which the company handled the unexpected consequences and attendant customer reactions appears to leave much to be desired.

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