Does your iPhone feel like it is running slower than when it was new or is it just your imagination?
You might not be imagining things. iPhone users have long reported that their phones seem to run slower after a new iOS update. Now Apple has confirmed that they are throttling down the processor’s speeds when the battery capacity deteriorates over time.
Last year iPhone 6, 6S, and 6S Plus users were complaining that their phones were randomly shutting down even when there was about 30% of battery life left. Apple fixed the shutdown issue in the iOS 10.2.1 update.
The new update included a feature that let the user know when it was time to replace the battery when it was too old. Turns out if you don’t replace the battery, it will slow down your phone to keep it from suddenly shutting off.
In a statement Apple says:
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.
Are You Affected By Apple’s “Fix”?
If you are running iOS 10.2.1 or later with an iPhone 6, 6S, or iPhone SE, you can be affected.
This is also the case if you have an iPhone 7 and you are running iOS 11.2 or later.
Whether your phone will be slowed down will depend on the age of your phone, temperature of your environment, or your battery’s wear.
To find out for sure, you can install the CPUdasher X app that costs $0.99 from the App Store. After running it, look in the results for CPU Frequency. Normal clock speed is 1400 MHz for the iPhone 6, 1848 MHz for the iPhone 6S/SE, and 2340 MHz for the iPhone 7.
The below tweet from one iPhone 6 owner shows what the CPU speed was before and after a battery replacement. His phone was running over 50% slower.
So it's true Apple intentionally slow down old iPhones. Proof: My iPhone 6 was bought 3years ago and recently got really slow. APP 'CPU DasherX' shows iPhone CPU is under clocked running at 600MHz. After a iPhone battery replacement. CPU speed resumed to factory setting 1400MHz. pic.twitter.com/pML3y0Jkp2— Sam Si (@Sam_RMSI) December 20, 2017
What To Do If Your iPhone Is Running Sluggishly
Now that we know that a degraded battery can affect the speed of your phone, rather than spending almost a thousand dollars for a new iPhone, you have several less costly options to get your phone running back at full speed.
All you need to do is replace the battery.
This is easier said than done. Gone are the days of the Motorola RAZR when a battery can be swapped out by simply popping off the back cover of your phone. With Apple making new phones thinner, more stylish, and adding features such as water resistance, changing your battery is now a more involved process.
There are three options you can go with:
Take it to Apple
The first thing you should do is check your iPhone’s warranty status. Because replacing your battery requires opening up your phone, you will void your warranty and be on your own for any future problems if an Apple Authorized Service Provider does not perform the repair.
If your phone is less than a year old or you’ve purchased an extended AppleCare+ warranty, you might be eligible for a free battery replacement from Apple.
AppleCare+ will replace your phone’s battery free of charge if it has less than 80% of its original capacity left.
If you do not have the AppleCare+ warranty, and your phone is out of warranty you can either send it to Apple or take it to an Apple Store. Apple charges $79 for a battery replacement.
There is catch with this though. You will be without your phone for a few days if you ship it to Apple. If you take it in to the Genius Bar, it’ll take about 20 to 45 minutes for the replacement to be done.
Update: Apple has addressed customer concerns in a statement regarding the performance and power management of older iPhones. They plan to provide more visibility on the health status of the battery in an upcoming iOS update. They will also be reducing the price of an out-of-warranty battery replacement for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later by $50, to $29 starting in late January until December 2018.
Replace the battery yourself
This is the lowest cost option if you are handy with tools and can follow instructions.
Everything that you need can be found at iFixit, with step-by-step instructions along with photos and how-to videos. Their iPhone battery replacement kits prices range from $19.99 for the iPhone SE to $49.99 for the iPhone 7 Plus. Their batteries come tested along with a one-year warranty.
The drawback of doing it yourself is there are many tiny screws that need to be removed, along with ribbon cables that need to be detached. When you finally get to the battery, you will find that it is glued in place. Then you will have to do it all in reverse to put it back together. If you mess up, you could brick your phone.
You might be able to find a cheaper replacement battery on Amazon or eBay, but you will want to check their reviews first. Nothing is more frustrating than going through the steps to install a new battery only to find out after everything is put back together that the battery is already half dead from sitting in the warehouse.
Go to a pro
Some users might not be confident taking delicate electronics apart and putting them back together. This leaves going with a third-party repair service. These services are not an Apple-authorized service provider and will void your phone’s warranty.
You can go to your local Batteries Plus Bulbs store, where a trained technician will install a new battery for around $70. Another service, iCracked, will send a technician to any location of your choice, whether it is your home, office, or local coffee shop.
The benefit of going to a local phone repair service is many times they will repair your phone that same day or while you wait. When selecting a repair company, look to see if they provide a warranty on their services. Call around for quotes to get the best price.
If their prices are close to Apple’s $79 battery replacement fee and you have a spare phone to use while your phone is being fixed or if you live near an Apple Store, going with Apple would usually be a safer choice.
It is hard to think Apple isn’t benefiting from this new update to iOS. After all, they get to sell you an expensive new iPhone every couple years when the battery starts to lose its capacity. Failing that, maybe you’ll buy a $79 battery from them.
This whole battery fiasco does teach us something – newer isn’t always better. If your phone is working great and you don’t need the features of the latest iOS, you can just not upgrade.
If you are still running 10.2.0 on an iPhone 6 or 11.1.2 on an iPhone 7, decide for yourself whether a newer update is worth the reduced performance the longer you keep your phone.
Just this past week, I installed a 3GS with iOS 4.2.1 for my mother who uses her phone only to make phone calls. That phone supports up to 6.1.6, but chances are an older version will run faster with less battery usage.
Now that Apple has confirmed they slow down their phones due to the battery’s condition, we know a phone may not be slow because it’s unable to keep up with the demands of the latest operating system. With a replacement battery, the phone will be good as new.
At the end of the day, a new battery is still a vastly more cost-effective solution than buying a brand new phone.
If you have an iPhone, have you noticed it running slower when you’ve upgraded it’s OS? Do you have any stories on replacing your phone’s old battery?