Apple settled long-standing conspiracy theories surrounding claims that the company was purposefully slowing down older iPhones in order to force people into buying newer models - and there's a "perfectly good" explanation.
In early December, Reddit user TeckFire posted a report in the iPhone subreddit, noting that after experiencing a painful slowdown on his iPhone 6S, a brand new battery resulted in significant improvement in benchmark scores - as can be seen in photos posted to the thread:
After testing performed by Geekbench developer John Poole, it was indeed confirmed that iPhones were being throttled to preserve battery life or avoid unexpected shutdowns while the battery degrades.
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_siruomu) December 20, 2017
The Cupertino, CA company responded to the internet sleuths, admitting in a statement "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," said the company.
As TechCrunch explains:
Basically, iPhones were hitting peaks of processor power that the battery was unable to power and the phones were shutting off. Apple then added power management to all iPhones at the time that would “smooth out” those peaks by either capping the power available from the battery or by spreading power requests over several cycles. This is clearly shown in Poole’s charts in his post:
Many have pointed out how bad it looks for Apple - which has been accused of throttling older phones to make them buy new ones, was caught throttling phones. No matter how legitimate the reason, the fact that they were caught - and forced to admit - is going to fuel conspiracy theories for a while.
For years, we’ve reassured people that no, Apple doesn’t secretly slow down their older iPhones to make them buy new ones.— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) December 20, 2017
If this must be done, it should be a setting. If it’s on by default, the user should be alerted the first time it happens.https://t.co/kRRmd7mN72
The reputation damage from secretly slowing down old iPhones, regardless of the reason, will likely linger for a decade.— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) December 20, 2017
To recap: due to battery performance degradation issues, the power demands of the iPhone processor was causing shutoff issues. To solve this, Apple secretly throttled their phones in order to avoid the issue... and were caught by internet sleuths before issuing a statement with their tail between their legs. Was there any impact on the stock price? Of course not: after all 2018 is the year companies make buybacks great again.