Apple Is Bringing Performance Throttling To Last Year’s Phones, Perhaps Causing ‘Battery-Gate 2.0’

A low battery indicator displayed on an iPhone screen.
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Apple has just opened the door for more lawsuits and scandal-mongering. This time, it is not concerning any newly released products. Instead, an old “gate” is about to be reopened: “battery-gate.”

The Verge notes that, “Last year’s iPhones get controversial processor throttling feature after all.” This means that older handsets may become subject to performance throttling whether they like it or not. Apple defends the action.

“iPhone 8 and later use a more advanced hardware and software design that provides a more accurate estimation of both power needs and the battery’s power capability to maximize overall system performance. This allows a different performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown. As a result, the impacts of performance management may be less noticeable on iPhone 8 and later. Over time, the rechargeable batteries in all iPhone models will diminish in their capacity and peak performance and will eventually need to be replaced.”

This move leads some to think that there could be a serious problem with Apple’s smartphone batteries. The reason is that Apple has already faced ridicule and lawsuits over the matter of impositional throttling. They were just recently fined $5 million in Europe, having been found guilty of wrongdoing in the matter of aggressive performance throttling that led to unnecessary hardware upgrades.

Apple maintains that they were not trying to push people into buying new phones prematurely. That said, even Apple enthusiasts might recognize that the tech company may not have done enough to signal what exactly they were doing in terms of their forced firmware upgrades for older iPhones.

iPhone X
  By Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Apple dealt with the issue by placing a setting in iOS that allows a person to toggle performance management on and off. This is an opt-in feature. However, they excluded last year’s phones from performance throttling — and discounted battery replacements — on the grounds that the hardware was too new and would not suffer the same problem as older phones.

Now, they have reversed part of that decision. They have decided that the phones announced only a year ago now require the same kind of performance management that initially got them into trouble in the first place. It is not clear if anything has changed with regards to the actual hardware design of the newest iPhones, or if Apple might have discovered a problem that is causing new batteries to drain more quickly.

If you are worried about the health of your battery, Apple has included a setting that allows you to check your battery health. It is under Settings, Battery, Battery Health. You can see your maximum battery capacity, and see whether or not your phone has peak performance capability.

The section leads with the following reminder, “Phone batteries, like all rechargeable batteries, are consumable components that become less effective as they age.”