Following widespread criticism for reducing SoC frequency because of battery degradation, Apple announced plans to cut down the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement for the iPhone 6 and newer models to $29 (from $79) throughout 2018. The battery swap program was expected to kick off early in 2018, but Apple has decided to initiate it immediately in the US, starting December 30. Later on, the company plans to update its iOS in early 2018 to give its customers a visibility of battery wear out and help them to decide whether they need a swap or not.

We expected to need more time to be ready,” Apple said in a statement published by TechCrunch. “But we are happy to offer our customers the lower pricing right away. Initial supplies of some replacement batteries may be limited.

Earlier this month Apple confirmed that it reduces the iPhone SoC frequency, among other things, as its battery capacity depreciates over time in order to avoid unexpected shutdowns from high current draw. The company claims that at times its processors demand a higher peak current than a degraded battery can provide. In particular, as batteries age (or are operated in a low temperature environment), the impedance grows and the ability to supply enough current at a stable voltage drops. Apple’s power management monitors a combination of the iPhone temperature, battery charge, and the battery’s impedance (the company does not say how it can monitor the impedance of a battery). Since all components require certain voltages and currents to operate, in a bid to avoid unexpected shutdowns, iOS reduces the SoC frequency and therefore reduces the performance of the smartphone until the power management IC finds it reasonable.

We have already published two stories covering the Apple battery fiasco, where we covered some additional details on the matter:

While an iPhone is guaranteed to make an emergency call, its aged battery may not provide required performance for all the third-party applications needed. In a bid to remedy the battery situation, Apple offers owners of the iPhone 6, 6S, SE and 7 in the US to install a new battery for $29, starting today. To do so, owners of the said iPhones will have to either send their smartphones to Apple, bring them to the company’s stores, or bring them to an Apple authorized service provider. The final details yet have to be published. Apple says that it usually takes 7-9 days to replace a battery, but if a large number of clients decide to replace their existing units straight away, the service will take longer and shortages of certain battery units may occur. It remains to be seen how Apple deals with its customers in Asia and Europe.

Sometimes early next year Apple intends to update its iOS to give their customers a clear understanding of the health of their iPhone’s batteries. This probably indicates that Apple will continue to lower performance of its SoCs going forward to prevent shutdowns, prolong battery life and guarantee phone operation in case of emergencies for all of its customers. 

Source: TechCrunch

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  • Colin1497 - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    My battery charger will measure impedance, I'm sure Apple's charging circuit can do the same. It's really not rocket surgery.
  • BillBear - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    Given the choice between a phone that mysteriously turns itself off when you need to make an emergency call and a phone that does not, I'll take the phone that works.

    The problem here was that if it is necessary to reduce the voltage draw of the device because the battery is reaching it's end of life, then the user should be notified.

    This is what happens when you continue to provide updates and security patches to phones that are more than two years old. The phone remains useful past the lifetime of a single battery.
  • HStewart - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    Here is a big question, I have an iPhone 6 and so far no shutdowns, but if the new iOS detects that I need new battery - and I replace it for $29. Does iOS still limited my performance with new battery.

    If so the problem is not in iPhone 6 but in the new iOS.

    I have no problem with my iPhone 6 ( in fact I have another one for work ). I just glad I didn't upgrade to 7 or even the 8 - planning on new version that will be like the iPhone X but size of the iPhone 6 ( not 6 plus or X size )
  • shabby - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    Performance goes back up when a new battery is put in.
  • ddrіver - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    Yes, it detects the battery is ok and disables the throttling.
  • HilbertSpace - Saturday, December 30, 2017 - link

    TLDR: Good luck getting Apple to replace your 'degraded' battery!!

    I have an iPhone 6+, bought directly from Apple at release, noticed super slow-downs with iOS 10.2+ (and also iOS 11) Did the requisite Geekbench tests for sanity, noticed the throttling at lower battery levels (50%), charged it up 100%, results miraculously back up to par for the phone. Used a few battery test apps, which indicate degraded performance. Gave Apple a call today after seeing this news, they wanted to do a remote diagnostics, so humored them and did it - here is the exact wording from that effort - "That is normal behavior for the device to slow performance when the battery gets a lot lower. We can do some steps to try and help with the performance, but the battery does appear to be working fine." and then later "Alright, but I’m just letting you know it’s not battery related or related to needing a battery replacement. Your battery passed the diagnostic with flying colors!" Then they wanted me to do a complete wipe/reset, etc. Which I didn't have time for today, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt (however slim that is), and try that tomorrow. But... I don't expect much from them anymore.
  • ABR - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    What is it about Apple’s devices that necessitates this throttling? I suppose we would have heard by now if it were an issue with Android or Windows devices. And anecdotally, my wife’s iPhone has always shut down quite quickly if she takes it out in the cold, whereas I’ve never seen another phone do that. Do they have a different (well, inferior) power management approach in the SOC, or are their batteries spec’d differently (well, with less margin) than the competition?
  • BillBear - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    It is an issue with the lithium batteries in Android and Windows Phones.

    Lithium batteries are only good for so many recharge cycles. Eventually, they stop being able to supply the necessary voltage even though the phone still says it has some charge left.

    When the device demands a higher voltage than the battery can provide, the phone suddenly turns off without warning.

    Perhaps the difference is that Android devices only get two years of software updates, so they tend to be replaced before the battery has time to degrade as much.

    Apple chose to throttle down devices whose batteries are failing instead of just letting them turn off without warning, which is good, but they failed to warn the user that their battery was hitting it's end of life when they did so which was bad.
  • FunBunny2 - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    "It is an issue with the lithium batteries in Android and Windows Phones."

    I don't think so. at least, it's not a construct of *a* Li-ion battery. my Braun toothbrush is at least a decade old, has a Li-ion battery, spends most of the time charging (of course), so it's been through thousands of charge cycles. let it run out once a month or so, and it recharges and runs like new. so, it's not a Li-ion issue, per se.
  • BillBear - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    "I don't think so"

    You might want to read up on it. Lithium batteries have a limited lifespan.

    >Lithium-ion batteries age. They only last two to three years, even if they are sitting on a shelf unused. So do not "avoid using" the battery with the thought that the battery pack will last five years. It won't. Also, if you are buying a new battery pack, you want to make sure it really is new. If it has been sitting on a shelf in the store for a year, it won't last very long. Manufacturing dates are important.

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