Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 20th Dec 2017 17:36 UTC
Apple

A Reddit post from last week has sparked a discussion regarding iPhone performance as a function of battery age. While we expect battery capacity to decrease as batteries age, we expect processor performance to stay the same. However, users with older iPhones with lower-than-expected Geekbench 4 scores have reported that replacing the battery increases their score (as well as the performance of the phone). What's going on here? How many phones are experiencing decreased Geekbench 4 score?

To answer these questions I've plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS. Scores obtained in low-power mode are not included in the distribution.

Evidence seems to be mounting that Apple is decreasing the clock speed of iPhones with decreased battery capacity to maintain the advertised battery life.

Order by: Score:
Makes sense from a business perspective
by darknexus on Wed 20th Dec 2017 18:09 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

If true, this is a sensible business move. Note that I'm not taking a stance on the ethics of this decision, just saying it would make a great deal of sense. In one stroke they maintain the battery life of older devices, make those devices feel slower and therefore encourage upgrades, and on top of that they are able to say (quite truthfully) that iPhones will keep the same battery life better than any other phones on the market. From a money making perspective, it's brilliant--so brilliant that I hesitate to believe it given Apple's notable lack of business sense in the past few years.

Reply Score: 4

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Who knows, it could be planned obsolescence, what companies do doesn't really surprise me at this point. I would want to conclusively rule out other possible causes to establish real causality and not merely correlation. For example, we know that flash storage becomes slower with use (as the used cells take longer and longer to program as they resist change). Has anyone conclusively proven that flash performance does not impact the geekbench scores?

I don't have an IOS device, but anyone who does could perform this test, and I'd be very curious what the results are:

Measure performance with old battery, full charge and plugged in.
Measure with full charge, unplugged.

Measure with low charge, unplugged.

Measure with low charge, plugged in.

If possible replace with new battery and repeat tests.


It's possible that the iphone is programmed to conserve power on low battery, an old battery will spend a greater amount of time running at relatively lower voltage. But when it's plugged in this should not be the case. If the iphone performance suffers even when it's plugged in and full charge, then the odds are high that planned obsolescence is at work.

Apple could fix it with an update, but at the same time, fixing it is kind of an admission of their guilt.

Edited 2017-12-20 21:39 UTC

Reply Score: 3

CaptainN- Member since:
2005-07-07

It's not planned obsolescence, since a new battery restores the old performance characteristics.

This doesn't seem nefarious to me at all. It's annoying, and it's not the decision I would have made, but it's a sound decision. There are two possible ways to deal with the problem. Accept decreased battery life to maintain performance, or decrease performance to maintain battery life. The two options are mutually exclusive, and Apple is the kind of company that prefers to avoid burdening users with those kinds of decisions.

Still, I wish they'd included an option to toggle the behavior. Old slow iPhones suck, and literally, have caused me to advocate for Android because they don't slow down (I had presumed with iOS releases, though now the evidence shows a different reason). I'm probably not the only one.

Reply Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

CaptainN-,

It's not planned obsolescence, since a new battery restores the old performance characteristics.

This doesn't seem nefarious to me at all.


That remains to be seen. Technically a used battery, on a fresh charge will output a higher voltage than a new battery when depleted.

So, this is sort of a litmus test. If the iphone performs worse with the old battery even when it's fully charged (and even plugged in), then they are guilty of decreasing performance unnecessarily.

This would be hard to achieve without some code that says "make the performance decrease after a certain number of battery recharge cycles regardless of it's ability to supply voltage". This would clearly make apple guilty, we won't know unless someone tests it though.

Reply Score: 3

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

It could be considered planned since Apple does very much discourage battery replacement and usually don't even bother performing it themselves. If you take one into an Apple store, and you have Apple care, even if it's just a bad battery they often transfer your data to a "new" device instead. What they do with your old one is anyone's guess, but it probably goes straight to the refurbishment team and becomes someone else's "new" device.

Reply Score: 3

replace the battery
by mmrezaie on Wed 20th Dec 2017 19:35 UTC
mmrezaie
Member since:
2006-05-09

Is there a way to see how much the battery has been decreased in capacity and if I can replace the battery of the old phones?

It would be a waste if we just threw the whole phone out because only the battery is bad!

Reply Score: 2

v RE: replace the battery
by quatermass on Wed 20th Dec 2017 22:06 UTC in reply to "replace the battery"
RE[2]: replace the battery
by Kochise on Thu 21st Dec 2017 07:52 UTC in reply to "RE: replace the battery"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

It's not like the iPod battery fraud haven't happened already in the past... People who learned their lesson would have chosen a smartphone with replaceable battery. Still using my 2008 Nokia N95 and 2011 HTC Evo3D with no performance loss, just changed the batteries when they went belly up.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: replace the battery
by Kochise on Thu 21st Dec 2017 19:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: replace the battery"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Wow, I obviously gained a down voter fan club that stalk me around every topic ;) What a sh/f/ame !

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: replace the battery
by quatermass on Sun 24th Dec 2017 21:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: replace the battery"
quatermass Member since:
2005-08-03

Trouble is there are millions of people who don't know the battery is an issue at time of sale.
Sure, you tell them 2 years later and they're really annoyed. But it's the buyer's problem. They don't ask and they're not told.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: replace the battery
by zima on Wed 27th Dec 2017 00:52 UTC in reply to "RE: replace the battery"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

we know batteries in phones only really last about 18 months in the real-world.

That's demonstrably not universally true - in my secondary phone there's a 12 years old battery which shows little wear, still lasts over a week.

Reply Score: 2

RE: replace the battery
by REM2000 on Thu 21st Dec 2017 09:20 UTC in reply to "replace the battery"
REM2000 Member since:
2006-07-25

On the Mac you can use a free app called coconut battery which will let you know the wear level of your Mac and iOS devices. I use it a lot for myself and my friends

Reply Score: 2

RE: replace the battery
by Tony Swash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 13:23 UTC in reply to "replace the battery"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

[q]Is there a way to see how much the battery has been decreased in capacity and if I can replace the battery of the old phones?
/q]


This app does precisely that and works very well

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/battery-life-check-runtimes/id108093...

Reply Score: 0

v Known issue
by quatermass on Wed 20th Dec 2017 22:03 UTC
RE: Known issue
by Alfman on Wed 20th Dec 2017 22:19 UTC in reply to "Known issue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

quatermass,

Happens in ALL phones.



There's a high risk of being wrong when you make absolutist blanket assertions like that. But nevertheless it's worth testing on my phone. I will try to get back to you on whether the charge has any effect on performance, as outlined in my earlier post.


Get a new battery...


Unfortunately this is part of the problem, manufacturers would have us throw our phones away instead ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Known issue
by Alfman on Thu 21st Dec 2017 04:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Known issue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

I will try to get back to you on whether the charge has any effect on performance, as outlined in my earlier post.


Well guys, here I was taking measurements, but it seems that I've been banned from geekbench for performing too many benchmarks. Apparently the geekbench app internally doesn't let you view your results directly, instead results must be processed by a geekbench server first. Not that I'd care except that they blocked access to my data. This is what pisses me off about not having apps that run locally and forcing us to be dependent on 3rd party servers, they're not dependable. To Geekbench: designing local apps this way is totally lame.


Anyways, the following graph is an incomplete snapshot of what I was able to get, I actually ran the tests down to about 30%, but those results are missing from my benchmark history. I was also going to test on a full charge. Unfortunately without those tests it's inconclusive as is.

https://s9.postimg.org/z74dvkmun/geekbench_battery.png

Note: libreoffice insisted on sorting the battery % in ascending order even though the data was collected in descending order.

I'll try checking if I'm unblocked tomorrow. If anyone else attempts to perform a test, don't attempt to go for as many data points as I did - having this level of detail is useless if you cannot finish!

Edited 2017-12-21 04:46 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Known issue
by Alfman on Thu 21st Dec 2017 16:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Known issue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

I managed to run more benchmarks. It looks like my phone's performance remains quite stable regardless of the battery's voltage or being plugged in.

https://s9.postimg.org/rnleo419r/battery_performance.png

Can anyone perform the benchmarks on an iphone afflicted by the software slowdown? In particular I'd like to see if plugging in the phone restores the performance versus low battery.

Edited 2017-12-21 16:44 UTC

Reply Score: 3

v RE[3]: Known issue
by Tony Swash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 13:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Known issue"
RE[4]: Known issue
by Alfman on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 15:45 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Known issue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Tony Swash,

Things like Geekbench may not produce a useful metric in this situation.

What Apple has done is introduce a throttling system used in very specific and episodic situations where iPhones with older partially worn out batteries encounter peak system utilisation (a relatively rare event) which without the episodic throttling could cause the iPhone to suddenly shut down due to lack of power.


I'm sorry Tony, but if an android vendor used this as an excuse for why users couldn't run the CPU at full speed, then we would rightfully be criticizing them right now. Apple does not get a pass here, this is a fail. I don't buy their excuses in the least and I think they were made up by PR. However even if you want take apple 100% at their word and argue that apple does this to prevent crashes under high load, then this is an implicit engineering fail for the iphones. Normal phones don't crash under high load, if I were an apple customer I would demand to know why their iphones are crashing. Even with old batteries in other phones this is not normal and the iphone should not have a crashing problem even on an old charged battery.

I'm open to evidence that apple is telling the truth about the iphone crashing under load, but I think it's an outright lie to cover up their motive for deliberately slowing down old phones after updates. Especially since they said this:

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.


WTF apple!? If the iphone really does have a crashing problem and its power supply margins are too tight to run reliably on old batteries, then what about fixing the damn problem? This response that they'd officially continue to degrade performance of old phones in the future is insulting. That's as close to an official policy of planned obsolescence as you can get.

I'm not an apple customer, but I still recognize that apple is a trendsetter. If users don't collectively send a message for companies to stop it when they are condoning performance loss on older devices, then we will end up encouraging more of this sort of behavior in the future. I don't care if it's apple, microsoft, google, or whoever, please let's just stand up against bad precedents like this, otherwise it might become the new norm.

Edited 2017-12-22 16:02 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Known issue
by Tony Swash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 20:00 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Known issue"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

I'm sorry Tony, but if an android vendor used this as an excuse for why users couldn't run the CPU at full speed, then we would rightfully be criticising them right now. Apple does not get a pass here, this is a fail.


Well first of all this type of issue - i.e. operating system updates affecting handset speeds - is far less common in the Android world simply because operating system updates are so much rarer than in the iOS world.

I do think Apple could have handled this better and more transparently, particularly as there was a pre-existing tech myth that Apple deliberately slowed down old iPhones in order to sell new ones. I think there should be a built in feature in iOS that replicates the function of apps like Battery Life and which would let owners know that the battery in their handset was degrading, by how much and the likely consequences and remedies available.

As a result of this story I downloaded the Battery Life app and checked my iPhone 6 and discovered my battery had degraded by about 9%, luckily not enough effect anything much. My iPhone, which is running the latest iOS version, doesn’t feel any slower than when I got it, although as always third party app quality varies and sometimes an update can be problematic.

Apple’s solution of background throttling when a degraded battery begins to exceed its limits no doubt sounded like a sensible engineering solution when it was being designed and implemented but it needed to be communicated and explained in advance, and openly, which it wasn’t. Hopefully Apple learns from such episodes.

Reply Score: 0

RE[6]: Known issue
by Tony Swash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 20:04 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Known issue"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

This article has some interesting stuff to say, and lots of info and data, about this issue.

https://techpinions.com/iphone-battery-slow-down-or-die/51915

Reply Score: 0

RE[6]: Known issue
by Alfman on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 21:51 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Known issue"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Tony Swash,

Well first of all this type of issue - i.e. operating system updates affecting handset speeds - is far less common in the Android world simply because operating system updates are so much rarer than in the iOS world.


Ah yes, the classic pivot maneuver: when attacked, switch topic and blame anything else. I'll admit to plenty of android faults, but this isn't one of them. A stronger bait would have been "apple might reduce my phone's performance, but at least it doesn't catch on fire!" Haha ;)

I do think Apple could have handled this better and more transparently, particularly as there was a pre-existing tech myth that Apple deliberately slowed down old iPhones in order to sell new ones. I think there should be a built in feature in iOS that replicates the function of apps like Battery Life and which would let owners know that the battery in their handset was degrading, by how much and the likely consequences and remedies available.


"Myth"->confirmed. Anyways I obviously agree that apple should have been transparent, not coming forward when all those users were reporting slowdowns year after year was such a dick move. Transparency is a good first step, however "transparency" by itself isn't an adequate settlement. Apple should give owners a way to revert the code in the IOS updates that introduced the hidden slowdowns without disclosure or consent.


Additionally insofar as apple phones are crashing at high load on old batteries, then apple should pledge to fix that defect in future phones. You've got to admit that apple planning to continue this in the future is a rather shit outcome for consumers. Demand better of them!

As a result of this story I downloaded the Battery Life app and checked my iPhone 6 and discovered my battery had degraded by about 9%, luckily not enough effect anything much. My iPhone, which is running the latest iOS version, doesn’t feel any slower than when I got it, although as always third party app quality varies and sometimes an update can be problematic.


If you don't mind, you could actually help with the tests I outlined in an earlier post. Can you provide the geekbench scores at low battery and again at full battery? It could help clarify whether the IOS degraded performance mode is based on battery voltage or battery cycles.

Reply Score: 4

It is true
by cranfordio on Wed 20th Dec 2017 23:12 UTC
cranfordio
Member since:
2005-11-10
RE: It is true
by Alfman on Thu 21st Dec 2017 00:10 UTC in reply to "It is true"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

cranfordio,



The artificially created slowdowns experienced by some users (but not all users) are considerable. Looking at the distribution as opposed to a simple average shows this clearly and I applaud geekbench for doing that. The lack of a distribution in futuremark's data turned out to be very misleading. All the while the media was denying any problems at all. Seriously though, listen to how condescending some articles were to users experiencing these issues.

https://www.cultofmac.com/507621/no-apple-not-slowing-iphone-force-u...

Google data shows that searches for “slow iPhone” skyrocket every single year right after Apple launches a new device. The cynics say this is proof that Apple purposely slows down older models with its latest software to encourage users to upgrade.

In reality, it’s a psychological phenomenon. We see a new iPhone, with significantly faster hardware and new features, and our existing device suddenly feels slow. But performance is just as good as it was before Apple pushed out any updates.



Don’t believe the myth

“Our benchmarking data shows that, rather than intentionally degrading the performance of older models, Apple actually does a good job of supporting its older devices with regular updates that maintain a consistent level of performance across iOS versions,” Futuremark concludes.

It’s true that performance could be impacted by new features that require more processing power. And new apps that are optimized for the latest hardware may not perform so well on older devices.

But the notion that Apple purposely slows down older devices with iOS updates is complete trash. Don’t believe the myth.


Gosh, it just goes to show that sometimes you can trust your own eyes; reports that apple did not purposefully slow down older devices with ios updates are complete trash.

Edited 2017-12-21 00:21 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: It is true
by galvanash on Fri 22nd Dec 2017 00:10 UTC in reply to "RE: It is true"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

If they can detect a failing battery well enough to adjust the clock speed to make it last longer (as they say), why can't they just tell the user "Your battery is failing. Time to get your phone serviced."?

I mean I understand that batteries generally degrade over time, and eventually they will start behaving badly. But they are replaceable, Apple themselves offer service to replace batteries. Why not just tell the user they need service instead of silently gimping their phone behind their back???

I mean I know why... It's a rhetorical question.

Shame on Apple.

Reply Score: 3

In light of the admission by Apple..
by mistersoft on Thu 21st Dec 2017 14:55 UTC
mistersoft
Member since:
2011-01-05

...that they "protect the battery life performance of older iPhones" by AHEM slowing down your phone in software -

They ought to have a couple of options:
Toggle the speed back to original if you replace the battery (and ideally if you don't care about the battery performance/occasional purported shutdowns)

Confirm the set-up date on the phone and NOT throttle the speed on "new" old phones. That is, newly set-up phones of older model types. I haven't seen confirmed whether or not these OS updates are applied in a blanket fashion to all iPhone 6 6s 7 models or simply those with have been operational for 1,2,3 years..

Reply Score: 3

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

mistersoft,

...that they "protect the battery life performance of older iPhones" by AHEM slowing down your phone in software -

They ought to have a couple of options:
Toggle the speed back to original if you replace the battery (and ideally if you don't care about the battery performance/occasional purported shutdowns)


I agree, that's what they should do. Not for nothing but these bad optics were all apple's own doing. Had they openly offered a low performance/longer battery mode, it could have even been introduced as a positive user switchable option to increase the battery life. If it actually worked as advertised, some users might even want to enable it on new phones, why not. Instead they did it in secret and snuck it into updates as new models came out. This kind of behind the scenes engineering to intentionally make old models perform worse really adds fuel to the fire.

This video is as relevant as ever:

IDIOTS - iPhone Parody
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbmgV7Oyp0w

Edited 2017-12-21 17:24 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Lack of transparency = Unacceptable
by benali72 on Sat 23rd Dec 2017 04:02 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Apple may -- or may not -- have legitimate reasons for throttling.

However, their lack of transparency speaks volumes about their regard for their users.

Either tell people about this upfront, or notify them when the throttling first occurs.

Otherwise this is just another corporate abuse of users.

Reply Score: 3