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The feature, often referred to as “throttling,” limits the power of the phone’s processor in an attempt to protect the battery’s longevity.
Although users suspected for some time that Apple was purposely slowing down older phones, the company didn’t admit until December of last year that it was in fact using software updates to prevent “unexpected shutdowns.”
The performance management configuration, which has since become an optional feature, is currently enabled for iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus.
While the throttling function is not yet in use on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, users will likely notice a change in performance at some point in the future as their batteries begin to wane. Users interested in processing power over battery health can still choose to disable the feature.
The announcement is stirring controversy after the company suggested to a U.S. senator earlier this year that it did not anticipate needing the feature for newer iPhones thanks to “hardware updates.”
“iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X models include hardware updates that allow a more advanced performance management system that more precisely allows iOS to anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown,” Apple said at the time.
Beware, when doing the latest update with Apple 12.1, trying 2 get group FaceTime.. they will throttle your phone down. iPhone X on down— Amazing (@noplaytrey) October 31, 2018
The tech giant, however, is also being praised for its openness on the throttling issue following years of suspicion from users.
Why is everyone upset over this?— iammobilechris (@iammobilechris1) October 31, 2018
A battery degrades. Any battery. All batteries. Apple literally gives people the option to let their phone with a degraded battery last longer.
Wtf is wrong with people?
It's not throttling. It's lengthening lifespan.
Ah ... all the morons are out crying about the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X now having “battery management” added in iOS 12.1.— Ray Wong📱💾📼 (@raywongy) October 31, 2018
Read what apple said last year: “As a result, the impacts of performance management *may be less* noticeable on iPhone 8 and later” (emphasis mine)
Just last month, Apple was fined for the practice as part of an antitrust case introduced by Italy’s competition and market authority. The iPhone maker was issued a $5.7 million penalty over its initial failure to disclose the throttling feature to users.
Those using older iPhone models wishing to disable Apple’s performance management feature can do so by going to Settings, Battery, and then Battery Health.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.