In context: Apple calls it “performance management,” but everyone else calls it “throttling.” It is a “feature” of older iPhones to keep them from unexpectedly powering off when the battery is no longer up to snuff. However, it’s not just for older models anymore. Now you too can have performance management on your less than a year old $1,000 iPhone X.
Apple has updated its support page without announcement to reflect that last year’s models of its flagship are subject to throttling, too:
“Additionally, users can see if the performance management feature that dynamically manages maximum performance to prevent unexpected shutdowns is on and can choose to turn it off ... This feature applies to iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus. Starting with iOS 12.1, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X include this feature, but performance management may be less noticeable due to their more advanced hardware and software design.”
Because of the upgraded hardware, the throttling will “be less noticeable,” and you can still turn it off in the settings. However, the optics of the change is less than ideal, to put it mildly, especially considering Apple went as far as telling Congress that throttling would not be an issue with the newer phones due to hardware changes.
The issue has already cost Cupertino a boatload of headaches and millions in settlements, fines, battery replacements, and PR wrangling.
It started when iPhone 6S users began reporting their phones were shutting down randomly. Apple determined it was caused by degraded batteries and quietly offered a free replacement to those having the problem. As a more permanent fix, engineers added the performance management feature to iOS, again without mentioning it to the consumer. It later had to add a toggle in the settings to turn off throttling due to the uproar.
When users began noticing performance loss, Apple admitted that iOS was throttling the processors based on the health of the batteries. This admission sparked lawsuits in the US, France, and South Korea. It also prompted the tech giant to reduce battery replacement services from $80 to $30. That discounted price is active until the end of 2018. Engadget notes that Apple was also fined 5 million euros ($5.7 million US) by Italy over the fiasco.
This time around, iPhone 8, 8+, and X users are not going to have any teeth to their complaints since they do have the ability to toggle off performance management, but you can bet the outcry will still be plentiful.