Apple has officially added its controversial power management features to the 2017 iPhone lineup in a software update this week.
The introduction of the feature was detailed in the release notes for the latest update to the Apple mobile operating system, iOS 12.1. The mechanism, which throttles performance based on battery output, is being added to the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.
According to the release notes, iOS 12.1 “adds a performance management feature to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down, including the option to disable this feature if an unexpected shutdown occurs.”
This feature, of course, was behind the so-called Batterygate fiasco of last year.
Apple is at least attempting to be much more transparent about its inclusion in the 2017 iPhone lineup. It’s clearly stating that the feature is being introduced in iOS 12.1 — and it’s offering the ability to disable it.
Those are two important points. When it came to Batterygate, Apple’s worst mistake, arguably, was the lack of detail it provided to consumers about the power management feature added in iOS 10.1.1.
Throttling iPhones as they age in this way is inherently a good idea. As the batteries within older handsets degrade, they aren’t able to output the same amount of power under stress. When an iPhone with an aging battery hits a certain power threshold, it shuts down automatically to prevent damage.
It is worth noting, however, that Apple previously said that its 2017 iPhone lineup wouldn’t be “as affected” by performance throttling due to hardware upgrades.
As pointed out by Macworld, the Cupertino tech giant told Senator John Thune that the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X contained updated hardware that could help iOS “anticipate and avoid an unexpected shutdown.”
Of course, Apple never said that that would be the case forever. With current battery technology, battery degradation and reduced power outputs are inevitabilities. Perhaps those hardware updates let 2017 iPhones mitigate shutdowns to a point which has now been crossed.
The more cynical among us, along with people convinced of Apple’s malicious planned obsolescence intentions, would probably point out that the iOS 12.1 power management update coincides with the release of new iPhones.
What Can I Do?
Apple has included a switch that allows users to prioritize performance over protection against unexpected shutdowns. In the wake of Batterygate, it also introduced tools that help users understand their device’s overall battery health.
Not only that, but the company is still offering discounted $29 battery replacements through the end of the year. Even into next year, the company is dropping the price on swapping an iPhone battery out for a new one — which completely eliminates battery degradation issues.
It’s much more likely that the power management feature is simply a failsafe to keep 2017 iPhones running better for longer. And, again, if you don’t like iOS throttling your speeds, you can simply turn off the feature.