Thought the #iPhoneSlow story was over? Think again. In responding to a query from US Senator John Thune, Apple has given us two tasty new morsels of information to chew on.
A quick recap in case you missed it: #iPhoneSlow refers to the admission Apple made in December that it throttles the performance of certain iPhones (6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE) after a certain level of battery wear (once it can hold less than 80% of its original capacity.)
This “power management” feature was designed to stop the random shutdowns sometimes caused by running high-performance tasks on an iPhone with a worn battery, but some have argued that Apple should never have implemented such a feature without user consent. Many lawsuits are currently taking aim at Apple over its handling of the situation.
To alleviate concerns, Apple lowered the price of its battery replacements to just $29. Affected users can get “like new” performance by purchasing a new battery – much cheaper than buying a new iPhone. Apple has also promised to include additional settings in the next version of iOS to give users more control over the situation, and more data on battery health.
In response to Senator Thune’s line of questioning, Apple has confirmed that it is considering a money-back rebate scheme for users who paid full price for battery replacements before the $29 rate came into effect. The company is “exploring this” and will explain more once it’s figured out exactly what to do.
We’ll let you know as soon as any concrete details emerge, but it looks like the chances are fairly high that some users will be reimbursed for their battery upgrades.
The other interesting tidbit that came from Apple’s response is the suggestion that more recent devices won’t suffer from the same problems thanks to a hardware update.
When asked if newer iPhones will be affected by the same performance throttling, Apple said the following: “iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown.”
Of course, nothing Apple can do will stop its batteries from eventually wearing out with use. That’s just how batteries work, and it affects every device out there – which is why the discounted battery replacement scheme is so welcome. But this latest statement implies that it’s found a way to negate the worst effects of a worn battery, presumably meaning it won’t be necessary to use the same power management techniques with the latest iPhone models.