December 21st 2017
By Mike Flaminio
In a statement to Tech Crunch:
Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.
Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.
I got a chuckle by describing the modification as a "feature." I think the issue is Apple wasn't transparent about the change. The modification is reasonable and should improve overall performance for customers. People theorize that Apple intentionally degrades phones for planned obsolescence, so this falls into that thinking that Apple is secretly doing things to our devices to just annoy us into spending more money. I don't buy that because that would be really stupid to do so and expect anyone would want to spend more money on your products.
I think the problem Apple is trying to avoid is this stirs up the issues around ease of repairing Apple devices. Battery replacement, however, is relatively approachable for those willing and skilled. iFixit sells a $25 kit with all the necessary tools and supplies for the iPhone 6, for example. Or Apple will service an out of warranty battery $80.
In the battery preferences, iOS will provide a notice that the battery may not be functioning well. You can also use various diagnostic tools to check out the battery performance.