So it turns out that Apple is slowing down phones with older batteries. Let's talk about why they did that, what you can do about it, and how we're all getting tricked into buying gadgets more often than we need.

Apple actually has some sound technical reasons for slowing down phones with older batteries. But they pulled the wool over our eyes by hiding how quickly these batteries wear out, and let people talk themselves into upgrading instead of putting in a relatively cheap new battery.

A lot of people have bought phones that the didn't need to, and that's a shame. Ask someone for help before you give up on your current phone.

What should you do if you've got an older phone?

Don't replace it! Get a new battery. You can find a local repair shop (the one in your mall will probably do a great job), take it to Apple, or even install one yourself.

Full disclosure: we sell replacement battery kits if you want to do it yourself. It sounds scary, but it's not very hard. We've helped 500,000 people do it just in the last month.

How often do batteries wear out?

It depends, but the rule of thumb is every 4-500 complete charges (or charge cycles). For most people, that’s every 18-24 months. Some batteries last a lot longer, some less.

My background

I started iFixit, the free repair guide for everything. We've written open source repair guides to replace the batteries in most modern smartphones, including the iPhone. Here's some handy instructions for fixing any iPhone.

I've traveled all over the world promoting Right to Repair laws, which would require companies like Apple to sell you batteries (and other parts). Apple's been fighting me tooth and nail, but we’re picking up momentum.

Right to repair is supported by everyone from environmental groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council to traditionally conservative groups like the Farm Bureau. Of course, it's opposed by Apple and their trade associations.


Comments: 407 • Responses: 40  • Date: 

Wompingsnatterpuss395 karma

How many people do you think would have passed on upgrades if they had known that a new battery would solve some of their problems?

Also, much love to iFixIt, your guide helped me bring a dead MacBook back to life for an underprivileged college student.

kwiens392 karma

A lot. This is a catastrophe. There are so many people that have spent hard-earned money that they didn’t need to. A friend of mine bought a new iPhone 8 to replace her iPhone 7 because it was too slow. I thought she was crazy because the 7 should still be super fast, but our benchmarks show that Apple is slowing down phones with older batteries by 60%.

If your phone was only 40% as fast as it used to be, and a new model had just come out, wouldn’t you think pretty hard about getting a new one?

This is a shame, because all of the experts (myself included) have been defending Apple for years, saying that new operating systems aren’t specifically designed to slow down your phone. Now it turns out that this one was. And despite their best intentions, it’s caused a lot of people to upgrade prematurely.

I’m seeing analysts speculating that battery replacements could cut iPhone sales by millions of units this year. Apple's battery confession has finally clued everyone in that they don’t need to upgrade their phone until their device goes completely kaput.

Good on ya for resurrecting your dead MacBook. What did you have to fix?

Wompingsnatterpuss79 karma

Her story was pretty fascinating without knowing a lot about MacBooks.

Her trackpad was randomly moving the cursor when she wasn't touching it and right-clicks weren't registering properly, she was frustrated to the point of doing all her assignments at the local library. She didn't have the money to take it to an Apple store and the warranty was long expired.

Being as curious as I was, I asked if I could take a crack at fixing it, because even if something didn't go according to plan, I had the means of getting her a new laptop, which she was fine with, so long as she had her data backed up.

A little googling and two iFixIt tutorials later, shipping in-between, she had a new trackpad and a new battery. Her problems were a result of battery bloat. She was very grateful and I got to have my first experience repairing a MacBook Pro. Good times.

kwiens68 karma

It's always the battery! Great job.

I've seen that impact the click calibration on the MacBook, too. There's a screw that sets how far the trackpad clicks, and you can sometimes adjust it to repair a trackpad without having to replace anything.

turret_buddy2133 karma

Not about batteries but...

I got an Ifixit toolkit and it's awesome.

Some small weird shaped screw? Toolkit has a head.

Wanna crack open your pc and replace some ram. Grab the toolkit.

Broken screen? Toolkit.

Super handy and affordable. I recommend it to everyone.

kwiens81 karma

Thanks /u/turret_buddy2! Writing guides and selling parts is the bread and butter of our business, but at the end of the day we have a mission that extends beyond ourselves: Fix the world.

Without folks like you stepping up to do your part we'd just be spinning our wheels. Keep it up!

skyner13123 karma

Isn't there a law already in the US that prevents manufacterers like Apple to cancel your warranty if you try to fix your phone yourself?

kwiens266 karma

Yes, there is. It's not legal for a manufacturer to deny a warranty claim if it's been opened or serviced by anyone else. Those 'warranty void if removed' sticker? Yeah, those have no legal bearing either.

So why in the world does everyone think that opening your own device voids the warranty? That's a funny story — for years, Apple retail staff have been denying warranty claims on phones that had been repaired elsewhere. Then suddenly last year they changed their tune and put out a formal policy instructing their staff that third party repaired devices were still under warranty.

As far as I can tell, Apple Retail was blatantly violating the Magnuson-Moss Act, and when Apple Legal found out, they flipped out and made the retail folks start following the law.

By the way, Apple's actual warranty text has always complied with the law.

Bottom line: Fixing your own iPhone or painting it purple does not void the warranty, unless the manufacturer can prove that your modification caused the problem.

Chromobeat121 karma

Hello there,

I am a 14 yo kid that just has bought his "Fix the World" bundle. I am looking to buy an soldering iron, SMD rework station, and and consumables (Flux, Solder, wick, etc.) to start my own repair business. I go to a really expensive school where everyone has an iPhone and replaces it if the screen breaks, so I thought that that gives me a good standing point.

I was able to replace an iPhone 6 battery and screen for 60 bucks and still make a good 10$ out of it, and this was all done because of your guides and awesome toolkit.

I collected money from the whole year to buy my tools, and I am ordering all of the stuff I need in this week tops. Thanks for your tools, and comprehensive guides.

So, my 2 questions:

Is there any potential to lower the prices of your items and shipping? The shipping cost me close to 20 dollars since I live in Greece, and that would have really screwed me over if you didn't have that "No shipping over 80$" promo.

If you are still repairing, or frequently talk to people that do, how do you find schematics and board views for your repairs?

Thanks a lot for the giant help you have been giving us over the lifetime of iFixit!

Edit: Thanks a lot to u/kwiens for offering me a Repair Business Toolkit, and all the people offering me the massive heaps of help! Always loved the repair community, everybody supports everyone, no matter the problem!

This comment also marked my 1000th comment karma point! Never expected that, but thanks a lot!

kwiens96 karma

I like your spunk. You're right, high school is a great place to find customers. Let's help you get your business started! PM me and I'll send you a Repair Business Toolkit which has all the essentials for running an at-home repair business. We've also put together a whole bunch of helpful free business advice for repair shops. Eventually if you get to the point where you have a business license, you can sign up for our wholesale parts program for repair shops.

You don't have to get into microsoldering to do a lot of repairs. Start with things you'll make money at—battery swaps are a great place to start because you can do a lot of them quickly, and the parts inventory isn't too expensive. Then work your way up into more challenging repairs. With microsoldering, get yourself a practice board or two that you can make all your mistakes on.

Finding schematics is a question of Googling skill. They're out there, you just have to hunt them down. That's something that right to repair legislation would fix. There's a lot of discussion in the EU parliament about passing something in the vein of the existing auto Right to Repair laws. Maybe that's something you could help with down the road!

theheadlightguy7 karma

Far far to many people don’t fix things. I drives me nuts! We live in a throw away world. This kid is one in a million. What can I do to help you?

kwiens8 karma

You sound like a guy who knows how to fix a thing or two.

iFixit is a wiki, and we depend on expert contributions. Folks like Nick, who wrote these amazing Mercedes repair guides:

Post some tutorials on the site! If we all work together, we can train the next generation.

You can also try answering questions over here:

inyourfaceplate54 karma

Is there a good table showing what battery health percentages trigger which level of throttling? I've looked at my family's devices in coconut battery, but it's not clear which ones need replacing to avoid throttling.

Love your tools by the way - I'm a happy customer!

kwiens94 karma

We did some benchmarking.

It has to do with your phone's current charge, as well. They throttle you more as the battery depletes.

The best indicator of battery health that I've found is cycle count. Figure you're time for a new battery at 500 charge cycles.

Unfortunately, Apple bans apps from the app store that report on your battery health with this level of granularity. So you need to download CoconutBattery (free) on your Mac and plug in your phone to check the cycle count. (Can someone suggest a PC tool that does this?)

adam_036 karma

Hi Kyle!

Hardware designers seem hellbent on making everything thinner and lighter forever, but do you think designers will ever be fine with packing more power / battery into the same size? Did "bendgate" change how Apple designed the iPhone 8 / X?

On an unrelated note, just wanted to say thanks for the awesome guides! Over Christmas break I dug into 5 different electronics for various fixes with the assistance of iFixit guides (2 Apple laptops that needed dusting, Nexus 5X bootlooping that I hopefully reflowed some solder for, battery replacement for Nexus 6 and 2012 retina Macbook Pro). I need to go back on iFixit and mark those procedures as completed...

kwiens52 karma

Yes, 'bendgate' definitely made Apple prioritize additional strength. JerrryRigEverything has done a lot of great bend tests on Youtube, and some of the Android manufacturers have some learning to do in that regard.

I agree, Apple has been crazy focused on making their devices thinner at all costs, and that's really had a big impact on the rest of the industry. I think this is design anorexia.

We wouldn't be having this discussion if it was easy to swap out the battery like it used to be on the Motorola Razr. My estimate is that adding a removable battery adds less than half a millimeter of thickness to the device. I think that's a worthwhile tradeoff, but clearly Apple disagrees.

281fishing22 karma

I have a question about my iPhone battery. I diy replaced it a year ago and my phone (iPhone 6) still got slow with the new update. Does Apple software not recognize diy replacements?

kwiens25 karma

It's possible. It really depends on how much the battery has degraded, which varies from person to person. My iPhone 4S battery completely died after 11 months. Even when it was plugged in, the phone didn't have enough juice to power on. I put a new battery in it and was good as new.

As long as the batteries you use are made to OEM specifications, your iPhone software doesn't know the difference between a DIY replacement and a factory original battery. What's more likely happening is that the battery you installed last year has already racked up enough charge cycles for iOS to decide it needs CPU throttling. We rounded up some older iPhones around our office and did some in-house testing (DIY battery swapping) to see if new batteries make a substantial performance difference. They do!

Unfortunately, the definition of a "new" battery will vary based on charge cycles, temperature, and frequency of use. YMMV, and it sucks that Apple is not more transparent about the factors that play into it. In the meantime, you can confidently replace the battery in your phone and expect a moderate performance boost.

It's not crazy to swap your battery once a year.

hangab18 karma

Is this the case for ipads aswell?

kwiens11 karma

I have not seen any evidence of that. Apple says that the 10.2.1 update only impacted iPhones. iMore has a bit more info.

That said, new operating systems definitely aren't as well optimized for older hardware. So I'd think twice about updating to the latest iOS.

bloodbent17 karma

My phone has been losing charge when plugged into my computer or plugged into the same outlet as my computer. Would a new battery fix this?

kwiens17 karma

Maybe? I'd need a bit more info. Which phone is it?

Most phones these days prefer a 2 amp USB charger, but most laptops can't put that much juice out. I used to charge my phone from my laptop but now I've stopped and I only use 2 amp wall adapters.

bloodbent9 karma

It's an iPhone 7. The charging problems started a couple months after I got it.

kwiens19 karma

Does this only happen in certain outlets or is it consistent?

If you use the 5W adapter and Lightning cable included with your iPhone and it charges normally, your phone is fine.

If your phone charges fine with the included accessories in some outlets but not others you should call an electrician. Or, if you're like me, break out your mulitmeter and start testing voltages!

thederpyderpman85715 karma

I follow you and iFixit on Twitter so I sorta know the answer to this: do you think this was really justified?

kwiens69 karma

My twitter rant yesterday inspired this AMA. Here's what I said so everyone else is in the loop.

I don't think their software slowdown was a bad idea, although they clearly should have told people what was happening. But Apple's real crime has been pretending that you never need to replace your battery. Even if your phone wasn't slowed down, your battery life is certainly diminished. Now the cat is out of the bag, and everyone knows they need a new battery.

It's crazy: Apple’s iPhone battery waiting lists are already thousands of people long at some stores.

Let’s conservatively say 250m, or 25% of iPhones out there need a new battery, and that it only takes a genius 15 minutes to handle each customer. Working flat-out, one genius can do 160 / week, or 1920 / year. That is 130,208 genius-years to swap them all.

Apple reportedly has 47,000 retail employees. If they trained all of them to do iPhone battery swaps, and they did nothing but that, it would take 2.7 years to clear out the backlog. But by then, more iPhones would need new batteries.

Of course, a large portion of those iPhones are scattered around the world far away from Apple stores. So the US backlog isn’t anywhere near that bad. But the global need is there: these phones need new batteries. Who’s going to do it?

Auto manufacturers know there’s no way they can repair all their cars themselves. Industry stats are that auto OEMs have capacity to perform 28% of their own repairs. The aftermarket (pro and DIY) handles the rest.

What’s revolutionary about this moment is that for years, Apple has avoided telling people that batteries wear out. Nowhere on the box, nowhere on the manual, does it say the battery is designed to last 500 charges. It’s buried in one page on their site.

So now, all of a sudden, it’s the best advertised fact in the world that your phone needs a new battery. But there’s no infrastructure for that. The retail stores don’t have enough square footage dedicated to repairs.

And unlike many products, you can’t really mail your phone in for repair. No one can go without their phone for a week. It’s just like getting your car fixed: you need a service center near you that can do it same-day.

This is a classic free-market problem. There’s huge demand. We need an army of fixers that Apple can’t supply. Fortunately, there are ~20k local independent repair shops in the US, and thousands more around the world, ready to pick up the slack. Without them, Apple would be sunk.

What’s crazy is that Apple has spent years lobbying to put the independent shops out of business. And now those independents are going to save them.

synsa11 karma

What are your thoughts on super fast charging cables? I love going from 0 to 100% in less than 2 hours but do they degrade battery life faster over time?

kwiens15 karma

That's a good question. It's not the charging cables that are at issue, but the fast charging capability built into the phone. If the phone supports it, go for it.

There are certainly chemical implications from charging the battery that fast, but I haven't seen any research that it shortens the battery's lifespan. This is the phone equivalent of using a Tesla supercharger. As long as the phone is engineered well, I think you'll be fine.

HenkRog8 karma


I replaced the battery of my Iphone 5s. However, now I have a black screen and no button works anymore. When I connect my phone to my pc I hear the USB sound and File Explorer shows my Iphone but the screen on my phone stays black. Also when I change back to the original battery I have the same problem now. What can I do?

kwiens23 karma

I've run into similar issues before, and the problem probably isn't your battery.

To test this theory, plug your iPhone into your computer and see if iTunes recognizes it. If so, great! The issue is most related directly to the display!

Once you've confirmed that, the problem will most likely be one of three things:

  1. The backlight filter is blown. You can diagnose this by powering your phone on and holding a light to the display. If you see the apple logo appear faintly, the backlight filter is blown. That repair requires a board-level repair and may not be worth it given the value of the phone.

  2. Your display cables are damaged. Hopefully this is your issue, as it is easy to fix: just get a new display.

  3. The display connectors on the logic board are damaged. This is a little harder to diagnose, and the best advice I can give you is to look really closely at the connectors for signs of damage. If they are damaged, you'll need to send it to a repair professional for some surgery.

HenkRog7 karma

An error message pops up in ITunes: it can't connect to the Phone because a PIN has to be entered on the Phone.

kwiens14 karma

Okay, that's good. It means your phone is alive and (mostly) well. Try the flashlight test next to see if this is a backlight issue. You can ensure you're powering on the iPhone by performing a hard reset, then continuing to hold the power button.

eohorp8 karma

I'm still rocking a GS4 from November 2013 with the original battery. The battery drains pretty quickly if I'm browsing reddit for hours, but it still holds longer than a day if I'm not. I've read that replacement batteries often don't have the longevity the OEM batteries do. Would you recommend replacing the OEM battery, or is 1 day charge hold good enough to avoid a replacement?

kwiens12 karma

I can't speak for all the replacement batteries out there, but ours are made to the same specifications and ratings as an OEM part and we're pretty obsessive about maintaining quality and backing it up with a good warranty. Now, the question of whether or not it's worth it comes down to whether or not it's impacting your user experience. A full day of charge on a 4 year old phone sounds pretty darn good to me. I wouldn't replace it just yet.

But since it's so easy to swap the battery on a Galaxy S4 (it's just a removable backplate), it wouldn't be crazy to keep an extra battery on you for when you need more juice.

Evergreen167 karma

Should we be worried if we buy a (fairly) cheap battery online? Is there risk of explosion like Samsung's?

kwiens37 karma

Kinda. On the one hand, the manufacturers won’t sell you an OEM battery directly, so you have to get a third party battery. On the other hand, there are some pretty sketchy suppliers out there.

There's two things you need to keep in mind when it comes to lithium batteries:

  1. They store a lot of energy and have the potential to be dangerous.
  2. They're highly prolific in today's devices.

Most batteries in your consumer electronics are safe. However, poorly manufactured ones can be hazardous, and people looking to make a quick buck online might sell units that fail QA.

I'd recommend buying batteries from well-known, established retailers who offer warranties and rigid quality assurance. Like this one :)

One other thing: I'm a huge Amazon fan, and I have been for a long time. But unfortunately they do a really bad job with service parts because of how they let multiple sellers sell on the same listing. If 20 different people are selling a DVD of Shawshank Redemption (which is very likely the best movie of all time), you're probably fine getting it from any of them. But if 20 different vendors are selling iPhone batteries, they're probably not all the same. But Amazon lumps reviews from all sellers together on the same product, so the reviews don't tell you anything about the part you're going to be getting.

Mobely7 karma

What are the actual Right to Repair Laws you want?

kwiens19 karma

The bill would give people the ability to fix things themselves by requiring manufacturers sell parts and provide information and diagnostics to the rest of us. You can see the actual legislation here and the states that are considering it here.

For example, Samsung refuses to make repair information available, so we wrote an open source manual for the Galaxy Note 3.

Parts availability is a big problem. Apple won't sell batteries to anyone. And clearly they can't do all these battery swaps themselves—there are just too many phones. Samsung does make some parts available, but the cost is so high that repair shops have had a hard time doing repairs at a price that makes sense.

One thing this bill would help with is making OEM service parts available to local shops. There are many, many products that don't have OEM parts available. It would be nice to change that.

Here's a good video intro from Louis Rossman, who runs a really great shop doing advanced repairs in New York City.

I've been working on Right to Repair for years, and I've been astonished by how resistant certain companies are to sharing simple information.

Sharing repair information costs Apple nothing and helps their customers. A robust repair market props up value of products.

It's always easier to stop legislation than it is to make something happen. And they have way more money, way more lawyers, and way more influence than a bunch of repair guys who are fighting for their jobs.

This will only happen if legislators hear from their constituents. We need to be very vocal. The time to call is right now. Emails and letters are great, but a phone call is worth 10 emails. And an in-person visit is worth 10 phone calls.

What are the objections to the law?

Let me quote from an AMA I did last year:

If you ask me, there isn't an argument--aside from profit. But I'm obviously a little biased :)

That said, the justifications that we hear most often is that only the manufacturers are qualified to repair their products. If given these resources, electronics companies argue that consumers might take things apart and hurt themselves. And I've heard OEMs argue that independent repair shops don't have the skills to repair their products either. I think that's tremendously disrespectful to the skilled independent technicians who have been keeping this country running since God was a boy.

Here are some other arguments they’re making. I’m quoting from a letter that CTA sent to a state representative:

“There isn’t a problem so legislation isn’t needed”

This is demonstrably false, as you can see from some of the comments in this thread. Consumers are extremely limited in their choice of “Authorized” repair. Choosing between service at one Apple Store or another is not competitive choice. For Samsung devices, parts are so expensive that repair frequently isn’t worthwhile.

"The bill would have a significant impact on existing warranty systems."

Fair Repair does not and cannot weaken warranties.​ Warranty offerings are entirely under the control of the manufacturer. Most consumer electronics warranties are 12 months or less. Many products have only 90 day warranties. This bill does not require that independents get reimbursed for warranty repairs. It just enables them to perform out of warranty repairs.

"The breadth and depth of the technical information and tools required in these bills would greatly increase the likelihood for abuse or even criminal activity. For example, the proposal could enable anyone posing as a repair shop to reverse engineer such a device to create counterfeit devices."

That’s bullshit. Repair is not reverse engineering.​ Any IP or Patent Pirate worth their salt buys and hacks into products at the first opportunity, not years after the warranty has expired.

By the way, Nikon used the same reasoning to stop releasing repair parts to independent camera repair shops back in 2012. In doing so, they put thousands of seriously skilled camera repairmen out of business. Some of those shops had been open for decades. Now customers only have one choice on how to repair their camera: Nikon. That's a monopoly, pure and simple—and that's what this bill aims to stop.

Spoor7 karma

If you're using the phone for an extended period of time, should one leave the phone plugged into the charger or should one let the battery almost deplete before charging it back up again?

ButterTime14 karma

It is really not worth the worry to be concerned about how to use lithium batteries. There are a lot of myths going around, some more true than others, but none of them will make your battery last significantly longer . Batteries are consumables and they wear whenever you use your phone. You should avoid leaving your phone in very hot or cold places, but that's pretty much it.

kwiens12 karma

ButterTime is absolutely right. Don't spend the brainpower worrying about it. Just use it however is most convenient.

And then replace the battery every year or two.

c-student5 karma

Hi, and thanks for the AMA. How long is the shelf-life of replacement batteries? I have an iphone 4s that needs a new battery and I assume any I buy will have been sitting on a shelf for a few years. Do they degrade over time even if they haven't been used?

kwiens17 karma

That's a really good question! We're still manufacturing new iPhone 4S batteries, so you don't need to worry about buying a battery that's been collecting dust on a shelf for a few years if you're getting it from us.

But you're right, they do degrade over time even if they aren't being used. If replacement batteries are stored properly they typically have a shelf life of a couple years. That's one reason that OEM batteries aren't always desirable — manufacturers generally stop manufacturing parts at the same time they discontinue the product.

_Deep_Thought4 karma

Hi kwiens,

Thanks very much for taking the time to do this AMA, and for all your hard work at iFixit!

I own an aging iPhone 5 that I'm planning on giving to a friend soon; the phone was subject to the complementary battery replacement program several years back. I got the battery replaced through that program, but was seriously underwhelmed with the 'new' battery (which I later found out may have been refurbished or previously returned to Apple). Its charge never held particularly well, and battery life has always averaged just a few hours of usage (any type) since a couple of months after the replacement. (The replacement was only warrantied for like 60 or 90 days, if memory serves.)

And now, the phone will completely shut off without any warning when the remaining battery is as high as 30%. I don't use bluetooth, location services or other high-drain apps or functions, just wifi for basic services and occasionally the LTE network when I'm away from home. I understand the battery is probably on its last legs, but it seems to last fairly long in standby and I can make a call for about an hour before it craps out, so it's obviously still got some juice.

So first question, is there anything I can do to predict and/or prevent these random shutdowns, besides replacing the battery? Neither my friend nor I have a lot of money to spend on our phones at the moment.

And second, when one of us does replace the battery, is there any issue replacing it with a higher capacity (mAh) unit, assuming it fits in the same/similar form factor?

kwiens20 karma

You're welcome /u/_Deep_Thought! Thanks for listening to me rant.

I got the battery replaced through that program, but was seriously underwhelmed with the 'new' battery (which I later found out may have been refurbished or previously returned to Apple)

It sounds like this battery has run its course. If it was refurbished when you got it, and you've been using the phone for several years it's just not capable of the power delivery of a new battery.

is there anything I can do to predict and/or prevent these random shutdowns

The random shutdowns occur when the phone pulls more current that the battery can safely deliver. This happens when launching apps, taking photos using flash, and other power-intensive operations, so avoiding those as best you can is a safe bet.

Additionally, upgrading to the latest iOS version should prevent the shutdowns, but it could cripple your phone due to the performance throttling.

And second, when one of us does replace the battery, is there any issue replacing it with a higher capacity (mAh) unit, assuming it fits in the same/similar form factor?

I don't recommend this at all. You want to use replacement parts made to OEM specifications. Any battery that has greater capacity at the same form factor will have a higher charge density. This is a dangerous recipe for an explosion, and was one of the principle causes of the Note7 fiasco.

Musichead24684 karma

Even with the new batteries, do you think Apple will continue to slow down phones?

kwiens17 karma

Now that their cover's blown they probably will have a tough time limiting performance based on device age, but phycological obsolescence is at the very core of Apple's sales and marketing strategies. There are many ways to deliberately reduce the usability of a device over time and I expect Apple will continue to employ such tactics, albeit in a different form.

xoma2624 karma

Hi! So, batteries do wear out in approx 1.5 - 2 years, right? If so, why Apple releases CPU slowdown patches after year and a couple months after the phone's release? Let's say, iPhone 7 was released September 16, and soon in the next iOS version or so, this iPhone 7 will be slowed down officially. What is this? Greed?

Also, not really a question but I noticed a very weird thing. I used iPad Mini 2 for some time and sadly but power button stopped to work. Since I've had a 1-year warranty - I replaced the iPad with a new one and never used it since. (It happened in 2015). In early 2017 I decided to blow the dust off it and launched. Worked fine but I updated to the new iOS 10 and ... it started to work like a brick. Sad story, but I do not understand if Apple slows down devices with a weak battery, why that iPad was affected? It had a new battery and the device itself was in a mint condition... I think Apple lying even more here ... Thanks

kwiens5 karma

Right. Plan on replacing it every 500 cycles, which is every 1.5 - 2 years for most people.

There are two factors at play with the slowdown.

  1. New operating systems aren't as well optimized for the old hardware. This is something that Apple could do better at. Microsoft does pretty well keeping Windows 10 running fast on old machines.
  2. This new, deliberate throttling. Apple says they're doing it to prevent abrupt phone shutdowns. You may have experienced this with an older battery: you're down to 20% and you open the camera and the phone just shuts off. Apple's trying to prevent that by reducing the overall power consumption of the device.

Of course, you could just replace the dang battery and you wouldn't have those early-shutoff problems.

Let me try an analogy. Ford sells you a Mustang, but doesn't tell you that the tires wear out, and has no information in the manual on how to replace the tires—or even that they should ever be replaced. After 25,000 miles, the car detects that the tires are worn down and aren't going to corner very well. Instead of saying, "Hey driver I'd really like some new tires please!", the car just limits its horsepower to 40% of normal so that it's not possible for you to go around a corner very fast. And then one night you're streaming Grand Tour and you hear that Ford has introduced a new 2018 Ford Mustang GT that goes 0-6 in 11 seconds. Ooh, my car isn't that fast!

You don't need a new car! Or a new phone. Just put on some new tires.

meatcalculator3 karma

Is there a reputable source for guides to repairing and rebuilding tool battery packs? Do you see iFixit going down this avenue?

kwiens2 karma

Yehu Garcia is a good friend and an incredibly knowledgeable resource on building packs.

Synonyk is the best that I've found specifically on rebuilding tool battery packs.

kwiens1 karma

Some device parts can be refurbished with a relatively low barrier to entry. For example you can refurbish a broken iPhone 6 display with $10k in tools and 3-6 months of training.

Batteries, on the other hand, are nasty business. If punctured, they can release noxious fumes, and if they're overcharged or shorted they can combust. We encourage repair and refurbishment wherever possible, practical, and safe. Unfortunately in the realm of lithium cells that's just not the case.

On the other hand, many electronics use modular battery packs, comprising many 18650 cells in series (most notably Tesla battery packs). As demand increases we can definitely make guides on swapping cells in battery packs.

sglville2 karma

Do you think this recent controversy will promot Apple to start selling batteries and other parrs directly? It’s impossible to find an OEM macbook battery so I have been using different 3rd party with good reviews.

kwiens6 karma

Apple has been lobbying against Right to Repair legislation that would make spare parts available to consumers for a long time now. Rude!

Repair is big business for manufacturers. Selling consumers a new device instead of helping them repair their old devices is even bigger business—which is why companies like Apple don’t provide the repair documentation or service parts that you need to fix your stuff. I don’t think this incident will change Apple’s mind, but what it could do is generate enough outrage that we finally get legislation passed.

Right to Repair is bipartisan, and it was introduced in twelve states last year. More states are in the queue for this year.

I did an AMA in /r/nyc about the New York bill last year, and a lot of that discussion is still relevant.

slugworth12 karma

Any guides for iPads in the works? Or any resources for replacing the screen on my iPad?

kwiens2 karma

Absolutely, we've got repair manuals online for just about every iPad. (We're still writing some of the newest ones.)

It's a bit of work to open them up because it requires heat. We've put some kits together for common repairs:

AS3452 karma

Do you believe Apple was using the battery slowdowns in part because of planned obsolescence?

kwiens10 karma

Yes, but not for the reasons most people think.

From a technical perspective the CPU throttling is a mechanism to prevent random shutdowns, which was a serious issue affecting iPhone 6s users.

Here's why that happened in the first place: As batteries age, their internal resistance increases. This means that drawing a given amount of current from an old battery will generate more heat than drawing the same amount of current from a new battery. This heat can damage the internal structure of the battery further, or in a catastrophic failure, result in a thermal runaway.

Apple instituted CPU throttling to prevent the phone from drawing too much current during peak usage, which could cause the battery to get dangerously hot, or automatically cut out entirely due to the over-current protection circuit on the battery.

That being said Apple should have been transparent about this. I think it's shameful that it required third-party analysis and the threat of a lawsuit for them to publicly reveal the throttling mechanism. Millions of folks have purchased new phones due to performance issues when they could have replaced the battery instead. This was surely intentional and a clear example of planned obsolescence.

tl;dr: The engineering was valid. The secrecy, and their refusal to sell batteries directly to the public, is textbook planned obsolescence.

jimf01021 karma

When replacing the battery will Apple replace the waterproof seal on my 7?

kwiens3 karma

Yes, Apple replaces the exterior gasket. Our DIY kit also includes this gasket.

It's very likely that after a few months of using a waterproof phone, the waterproof membrane develops flaws. The waterproofing techniques that manufacturers use are not particularly robust, and if you drop your phone you're just as likely to break the waterproof seal as to crack the screen.

Opening it up and replacing the gaskets at the same time that you replace your battery may actually be a good maintenance technique. We haven't done exhaustive testing on this—it's just a gut feel. But it's something that I'd like to investigate further.

Sirerdrick641 karma

I have a 6S purchased in May of 2016.
My original geekbench scores were 2506 / 4283
As of a week ago, they dropped to 1467 / 2503
They are now back to 2535 / 4417 (actually netting an INCREASE?! Nice!)

I noticed that something was off when my phone would dramatically drop in battery life when going outside on cold Michigan days.
Then I started having to charge multiple times throughout the day.
I also began seeing stutters and slowdowns where I had never seen them before.

Honestly, as the process was seamless for me, I really am not too put off about the whole situation.
I was lucky enough to get an appointment, show up and be seen w/in 10 minutes of my appointment, found out that my phone’s battery replacement was in stock, and had a new battery a few hours later.
Be aware though that there is no guarantee (and no one will be able to tell you) that there is stock of your particular battery.
They are completely overwhelmed and I suppose will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, especially seeing the math by iFixit u/kwiens

Apple made a mistake, have owned up to it, and are working hard to remedy it.
I’d suggest anyone with an affected phone just get the new battery.
Good luck!

kwiens2 karma

Hey, awesome! Glad that they had your battery in stock.

My experience has been that doing it myself on my own schedule is actually faster than scheduling an appointment, driving to the store, and waiting for them to work on my phone. It takes about 20 minutes to swap the battery on a 6S.

BoomSie321 karma

Hi /u/kwiens ,

First of all, thank you for your great iFixit website, I already replaced an iPhone battery myself with the help of it.

My question: I'm on an iPhone 7 at the moment and never updated it. Does this mean it won't slow down or is the "slowdown" code already present and does it do this automatically over time? (I know it's a bad practice to not update, but I have my reasons)

kwiens3 karma

Apple introduced the slowdown in iOS 10.2.1.

loinfroth1 karma

Has anyobe ever told you the SEO practices you use for your website are highly unethical?

kwiens2 karma

I think you've got us confused with Fixya.

coryrenton1 karma

what kind of battery do you think would be good for a standard replaceable cel phone battery? laptop battery?

kwiens2 karma

My favorite battery is one that’s easily replaceable. Easy-to-replace batteries make for a really simple way to get another few years of use out of a device. We’re big advocates for minimal battery adhesive or removable adhesive tabs. When a battery can’t be replaced, in a couple of years you’re guaranteed to have to keep your device plugged in all the time. Replaceable batteries make repairs easier, cheaper, and more accessible for everyone. They also make the device easier to recycle when they reach end of life.

mybrowns1 karma

Is it hard to replace a screen on an iPhone six plus ?

kwiens1 karma

Nope! We've got a handy iPhone 6 Plus screen fix tutorial right here.

If you can follow instructions, you can do it.

typ9931 karma

$9.75 to ship a battery?

kwiens5 karma

Shipping batteries is expensive because of the safety requirements surrounding lithium ion cells. We're working with our carriers to find a solution, but safety and following regulations is a priority, and unfortunately that comes at a cost.

You can probably find other retailers who will ship a battery for less, but chances are they're cutting costs at the risk of someone's safety.

On the plus side, with us you get the guide for free.

TangoHotel041 karma

A few years ago, I woke up one morning to find the temperature warning displayed on my iPhone 5. I unplugged it and allowed it to cool to the point the warning went away. But I noticed the battery was draining incredibly fast. Literally like 1% per 30s-1m.

Throughout the day, I plugged it in periodically just to keep it from dying. I backed it up to my computer and tried restoring it with the back up, and eventually restoring it as a new phone, thinking it was a software problem, but to no avail. The charge kept dropping at the same rate and the phone would get abnormally warm when charging.

Eventually I decided to allow it to completely die so that I could recharge it in hopes of recalibrating it. But once it died, it died completely. It would no longer turn on, indicate it was charging, or go into DFU mode when connected to my computer.

So I ordered a new battery (kit) from iFixit with 2 day shipping, essentially doubling my cost. As soon as I received the packaged, I replaced the battery and plugged the phone into power. As I expected, the phone turned on. I allowed the phone to charge to full capacity and then, in an attempt to “calibrate it” (not sure if that even really needs to be done?), I allowed it to die completely. But to my surprise, the phone, again, would no longer turn on, indicate it was charging, or go into DFU mode.

I didn’t know what else to do, so I filed an insurance claim with my SP for a replacement. Due to Apple no longer making the iPhone 5 at the time, I managed to get a new iPhone 5s of the same capacity for the same deductible. So, it all “worked out” in the end. But still to this day, I wonder what caused that to happen. Any ideas as to what could’ve caused the same thing to happen with both batteries?


From my own practical experience this sounds like there was a short somewhere in the phone, bhe battery was probably fine. I've seen some shorts in displays even when they had no apparent damage.

kwiens2 karma

Yes, I agree. If you could have opened the phone up and taken a thermal image of it, the hot point probably would have been very obvious. It would be relatively straightforward for a shop with a microsoldering setup to repair the circuit board.

It was probably beyond the realm of something that a DIYer could have handled (short of replacing the main board). Sounds like you came out of it all right. Hopefully the insurance company refurbished the phone after they got it back.

meatcalculator1 karma

Are there battery charging habits that will keep our batteries healthy longer? Particularly phones and laptops.

kwiens1 karma

Nope! Lithium batteries are pretty forgiving.

If you're storing it long-term, don't leave it fully charged or discharged — 70% is a good rule of thumb.

Batteries don't do great in super cold or hot conditions.

Aside from that, battery life is pretty correlated to usage. Just like tires, they wear out over time. Enjoy your wireless freedom and plan to replace it every so often.

dabomb1091 karma

Is Apple the only phone manufacturer throttling phone speeds?

kwiens2 karma

That's a good question. I don't know. I think we need some solid benchmarking around this.