Why Swapping a Battery Won't Save Your iPhone

A Questionable History 

I have sat around and listened to information regarding Apple's iPhone slowdown issue long enough to call bullsh!t on Apple. It is not that their engineering reasoning does not make sense...because it does, it is the fact that they would have to be able to see the future through some crystal ball to anticipate a problem like this one to effectively engineer a software solution that bothers me. Yes, I said a software solution. While everyone is out getting their batteries replaced in good faith, he or she might have overlooked the fact that a "solution' to this problem has to be applied where the problem was created – in iOS. Thus, a battery replacement alone will not bring the speed back to your iPhone, and this is what makes me question the motives surrounding this entire situation.

Realistically, I would be more likely to believe Apple's statements about why they slowed older
Courtesy of www.apple.com
phones if this was their first offense. It's not, and their fanbase is so rabid about their favorite little device they tend to forget the other times Cupertino's darling as executed similar plans to boost profits. In 2012, Apple changed the iPhone charging port from its original 30 pin connector to the current lightning port with the promise of added features. What consumer received was frayed/defective cables and relinquished the ability to use most third-party charging equipment, while Apple received a boost in adapter sales and branded "Genuine Apple" accessories. The end result was class action lawsuit claiming Apple was aware of what they were doing at the time and chose not to inform customers of the outcomes.

In 2014, it was an upgrade to iOS 8 that caused an uproar from the fanbase. Massive amounts of people were unable to upgrade to the latest mobile operating system because of insufficient memory in their devices. Apple squashed the rebellion with an iTunes workaround that made sure those lower capacity phones would be able to get the latest version of iOS. The new iOS surprised fans with a phone that had so little internal memory left over after the installation, the new system might as well have bricked (technical term) their phone. Moreover, once installed, the operating system cannot be rolled back, leaving anyone who made an effort to upgrade on lower capacity phones SOL. Maybe this set of class action lawsuits filed as a result will give customers a bit more closure than the 2012 ensemble.

Batteries are Different

Even with Apple's suspicious history in mind, I was still willing to concede benefit of the doubt because their statements about the effects of long-term battery usage are spot on. Every time a phone opens, switches, powers-on applications, or performs a slew of other functions, it requires a power surge from the battery, and as batteries age, they lose the ability to deliver those surges. The easiest way to for most consumers to comprehend this is to think of their phones as cars, and the batteries that run them as gas tanks. Certain aspects of driving use significantly more gasoline than others, just like certain aspects of cell phone usage require more power than others.

For example, starting your car involves a simultaneous surge of gas to every component involved in the ignition process. The same is true for phones during startup; every electronic component needs to obtain a charge simultaneously to boot your operating system, requiring significantly more power than regular operations. Quick accelerations to switch lanes are like switching between applications, a sudden change in position also requires a significant, sudden increase in power. While there is a long list of car-related analogies that can explain sudden power surges, I think you get my point, not all battery usage is the same. So yes, it makes sense to slow the speed the processor to accommodate for aging batteries.

Okay, so if the reasoning for the slowdown is legitimate, why am I calling bullsh!t? It's because of the method of deployment. iOS can only be engineered to deploy something like this in a couple of ways, both of which make me think this slowdown had nothing to do with concern for consumers and more to do with profits. The hardware, in this case, the battery, doesn't have a sophisticated method for reporting its status to the operating system. There is not a self-testing mechanism, no internal clock, and no sensors on a battery, so unless Apple is hiding some new battery tech I've never heard of, iOS has to the culprit (Apple has admitted as much).

Where the Story Doesn't Add Up

If you are a computer geek, Android superuser, or the Last Digital Jedi, you probably understand how adjusting the processor speed of a device has a dramatic effect on its power consumption. Geeks refer to this as "overclocking," or "under-clocking," depending on the direction of the adjustment. If you've ever executed the process, you are probably aware that it's done through software adjustments and not through the power supplies themselves. So what? Why is this one little detail so nefarious when it comes to the Apple iPhone slowdown situation? It's because firmware would have to have this hidden function from the very beginning, or have been slipped into a recent update to execute the slowdown maneuver. Here are the likely scenarios in which this process was executed.

One, since every processor is adjusted in a different way, the most likely way iOS figures out if it needs to slow your device down is by looking at the internal chip model. It more than likely identifies the Apple A8 and A9 chipsets in the devices and reduces their processing power in an effort to conserve battery usage. The problem with this method is that devices that contain this chipset are still sold as new devices at retailers. This kind of execution would be horrible for Apple customers, it would mean that purchasing an iPhone 6s or SE last week would still have resulted in a slowdown regardless of the device's age. Nefarious indeed...

Two, Apple could be using the internal clock to determine the phones age. Based on when the phone was activated, the OS could use the phones internal clock to determine when to reduce the speed of the processor. If this is the case, the reduction in speed would be associated with a predetermined timetable that Apple put in place years ago. It also means the slowdown would occur regardless of the actual battery usage and without consideration for wear and tear. It would happen based on a simple timing mechanism. The result for Apple customers is still the same, implying that Apple has been planning this for years and never notified any of their customers of the impending doom.

There as still some other ways to execute something like this, but all of them still implies a certain amount of nefarious behavior on Apple's part, so I'll skip to the summary. This is simply a bad look for Apple. Even changing out the battery won't return your phone to its previous glory days, something has to be done in the OS to unleash the processing power once again. If a firmware patch is issued, for those with new batteries, they'll be back in action, and for those without a replacement, they'll experience some new issues with their devices. Ultimately, the end result is already the same as the other instances I mentioned, with class action lawsuits already in motion, but I can't positively say if this time is going to be any different. The Apple faithful remain the Apple faithful, so maybe all these keystrokes have been for not. Let me know what you think.