December 28th 2017
By Mike Flaminio
Apple is addressing a brewing controversy around software changes made to address degrading batteries in iPhones. As battery performance degrades, changes in iOS for specific devices will cause the iPhone to reduce its processing power. The result should be improved battery performance and less erratic behavior such as sudden shutdowns and general responsiveness issues.
Apple is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 -- from $79 to $29 -- for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January and available worldwide through December 2018. Details will be provided soon on apple.com.
Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone's battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.
I think the biggest issues are the lack of transparency and unintended consequences of software tweaks. I'm sure in some cases the overall user experience is improved by the tweak. Without any indication of what is happening, however, users may be left making assumptions about hidden changes with their devices.
It seems Apple is making efforts to improve transparency of battery life. You can find this out using various utilities, so Apple just needs to put a display on iPhone battery data. The second offer of discounted battery repairs is a great step.
Apple says batteries are designed to last for about 500 recharge cycles before noticeable battery performance degradation. That's about a couple years from my observations and it's generally optimistic for batteries to perform acceptably at that point. To me, this makes getting a new battery similar to new tires on a car. Which is to say that battery replacements aren't so much a repair as maintenance. As a result, Apple should make replacements easier for customers either for DIY or permanently cheaper.