Apple to Let Users Control CPU Throttling on iPhones

Posted on January 18, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in iOS, Mobile with 24 Comments

Apple was recently found to be intentionally slowing down older iPhone devices. The company later apologized for poor communication with its users over the intentional slowdowns, claiming that it made changes to iOS to prevent unexpected shutdowns on phones with ageing batteries.

At the time, Apple said the company will be releasing a new iOS update early this year to provide users with more data over their iPhone’s battery health. It also cut down the price of iPhone battery replacements by $50 to let users avoid the slowdowns on their old iPhone by getting a new battery.

In a new interview with ABC News announcing the hardware maker’s massive $350 billion contribution to the US economy,  Apple CEO Tim Cook said a new iOS update will make the intentional slowdowns optional. The toggle will let users prevent iOS from automatically throttling their CPU because of poor battery health, but Cook isn’t recommending users to actually use the feature as it could result in unexpected shutdowns.

“We will tell somebody we are slightly reducing, or we are reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart. If you don’t want it? You can turn it off. Now, we don’t recommend it, because we think people’s iPhones are really important to them, and you never can tell when something is so urgent, and so our actions were all in service of the user. I can’t stress that enough. Maybe we should have been clear at a point in time, but our actions were always the purest,” Cook said in the interview.

Cook declined allegations against the company for intentionally slowing down iPhones in order to drive customer upgrades, for those wondering.

Apple expects to ship a beta of the new iOS update sometime in February, and a public rollout is expected to happen shortly after, possibly sometime in March. Of course, we can’t exactly say if the new toggle will actually make your old iPhone faster yet, so that remains a mystery.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Apple to Let Users Control CPU Throttling on iPhones”

  1. PincasX

    Seems like making it a preference was the solution they should have gone with from the start.

    • Daniel D

      Along with a user serviceable battery. You know a battery compartment, like phones once all had. In reply to PincasX:

    • nbplopes

      In reply to PincasX:

      No for me the solution it’s not making it a preference. As I’ve alured in my post in this thread, is to approach system diagnostics like on board car systems do.

      the solution is to keep throttling to void further damage yet providing the user with warnings that the phone needs the battery replaced for optimum performance. Eventually those warnings can be delayed and or disabled.

      A bit like cars do when they need water or oil. Or part of their engine needs to be serviced. Like auto diagnostics.

      This is an non geek approach, an approach unlike it is being done on Android where the user is provided with so much cryptic information that is actually ignored by most. Leading to the same result as we witness here.

      Options per option do not provide freedom. A good set of options do.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to PincasX:

      Apple don't do preferences. It's their way or no way. iPhone users don't really have choices, but they seem to like it that way.

  2. stevenlack

    Honest question: Has anyone ever had a shutdown on anything other than an iOS device?

    I've been using Windows Phones and Androids for years with no issues at all and surprised that a phone would suddenly restart due to the battery being weaker over time. I'm not a battery tech at all mind you.

    • mattbg

      In reply to stevenlack:

      Yes - people on here have reported them in previous threads on Android devices and I know people who have it happen on older iOS devices that do not benefit from this throttling.

      It does make sense as raising voltage is a fundamental of overclocking and voltage drops on a battery as it ages.

      Apple also underclocks the CPU on the newer iPod Touch from day 1 to accommodate the smaller battery.

  3. nbplopes

    My views over this have been changing over time. For me it is a simple technical solution to a technical problem. Throttling its quite a common solution to preserve battery life. In that respect this is just an instance of that.

    I was inclined to leave it to that. I argued this point on this site on some post of mine.

    Yet with as time passes, with more information and actually witnessing the impact of this measure I can no longer leave it just to that, neither believe entirely Tim Cooks “sincerity” as far as the word sincerity goes in my book.

    This solution clearly has a side effect. And I cannot believe that amongst the smart people of Apple, far smarter than me, such side effect was not accounted for. I mean, it not just the phone performs a tad slower, it performs actually so slower that it hurts its actual effectiveness on a daily basis to the point were the user stops using as much.

    I have a friend that has an iPhone 6. This fix made the phone really slow and in time he started to feel that he needed to upgrade his phone. The fact is, being a regular user using his phone as a utility, this silent fix gave him absolutely no other option to him but to think that way ... a silent death! This when a simple battery replacement would totally fix his problem and the device would come to life just fine and dandy. Something that he did after hearing what was actually going on and ... voila.

    I personally find this all too convenient for not to be planned by very smart people. Especially when a simple warning pop up suggesting a battery replacement would also do. Eventually allowing the user to disable such warnings. You know, like cars do when they need water, gasoline or oil ...

    Now, the fix has a a side effect of suggesting to the user that his phone was getting irreversibly extremely slow due to aging and it was time to upgrade!!!!!!! I don’t understand which part of this known side affect is actually Apple thinking about the user.

    So bad, Apple, really bad Apple as far as I now believe.

    PS: I find that in this episode we can see the best of the company and the worst. Worst its explained above. The best is their quick response once the solution was found inadmissible. Unlike others that keep on dodging the issues with no end. Beacause for all its worth it not the only company finding this convinient solution$

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to nbplopes:

      All iphone users saw as a result on Apple's silent throttling was a slow down on their device. Nothing else. As this was almost always tied to an OS upgrade, and there's no way to roll back, it would be normal to assume the phone has reached the end of it's useful life. What other reason would the average person think of? So, off they trot to the Apple store, give Apple some more cash, and walk out with a nice new iPhone that's fast again. Sorry Apple, it's not rocket science. You were abusing the trust of your customers for money under the guise of saying it was for your customers benefit. I don't believe a word of it.

  4. Tony Barrett

    While I don't think Apple have come out of this very well at all, and are now in full damage limitation mode, I'm not convinced part of the reason they did this wasn't for financial gain. It's almost certain Apple made millions of extra sales over the last few years because users thought their 'old' iPhone was no longer fit for purpose, when in reality, it was. Planned obselesence is a real thing, and I believe Apple were using this to their advantage, no matter how they spin it now. They totally screwed the pooch on this one, but sadly, they probably won't loose many customers over it.

  5. wocowboy

    Evidently, from the gigantic hue and cry from the tech press over this subject, people should want their phones to just die or stop working in their tracks when their batteries get old and weak instead of letting the OS have the capability of mitigating the effects of that aging and weaker battery on their daily use until they either choose to have the battery replaced or buy a new phone with a fresh battery. So be it. For my purposes, I will gladly let iOS manage the situation for me, as long as it notifies me when it begins to make the changes it is designed to do, so I will know that it is time to either replace my battery or look at getting a new device. If the OS is smart enough to keep itself going as my battery ages instead of just shutting itself down every time it wants to do something more processor-intensive, I believe that is a good thing, but the OS should let me know that this is happening so I can make my own decision on what to do about it. I would not allow my car to just die and never run again when the gas tank gets below 1/4 full, I would expect the car to run until the tank was empty, even if it would throttle itself to 50 mph below 1/4 tank if that meant I could make it the 50 miles to the next gas station because of higher mileage at 50 mph rather than 80.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to wocowboy:

      Your caveat is what got people rightly riled up. "so long as it notifies me..."

      It didn't notify. You just had this gnawing feeling that it was slower than it uses to be.

      I do wonder though why they didn't design things to work in a way that even a lowly PC laptop can do - run at full speed until maybe 20% battery is left, then throttle things. If needed you can still adjust that.

      This story reinforced people's attitudes about Apple, so it hit a nerve.

  6. Awhispersecho

    This company screws people over, makes up a BS excuse for it and then manages to make people think they're doing them another favor by "giving them control" over the device they own that Apple shouldn't have been messing with for no reason in the 1st place. Paul and other tech people know this is BS and really need to call them out lore and hold their feet to the fire for this. Something else they will come out of looking like the hero. They make me so effing sick.

  7. Harrymyhre

    I get no shutdowns

  8. dontbe evil

    Wow apple is so nice...ah of course after few class actions

  9. HellcatM

    What if you turn off what they say is throttling and it's actually overclocking the CPU and GPU? This would waste even more battery and they can get people to buy new phones this way. Also it could heat up the phone even more breaking down components faster which they can also blame on "turning off throttling". In the end apple gets what they want, people buying new phones sooner just for a different reason, but its a reason from their making.

    All the talk about "we throttle to save battery" is hearsay in the first place. They say it and their users believe it just like if they actually do overclock the phone now users will believe their spin of events.

    • Stooks

      In reply to HellcatM:

      Tin foil hat much?

      So we believe Apple or HellcatM of the Internet.

      If you turn off the feature the phone will go back to its normal clocks but possibly crash when the battery uses something that is CPU or GPU demanding, IF the battery is old and can't provide the power it needs during those spikes.

  10. Detective Polarphant

    I got fascinated watching this video. It's incredible how Tim Cook has been trained to use his hands. I realise lots of public figures are trained this way, but it's so noticeable here. It's most noticeable when he uses the praying hands, because it's not a standard gesture. If you focus on his hand gestures rather than what he's saying , it starts to look completely disingehuous. I realise this is a bit off-topic - but thought it was pretty interesting anyway.

  11. RonH

    Total BS... about a year ago....

    Transparency? New capability? Android has let you manage your battery for years

    • Stooks

      In reply to RonH:

      The power management change came out with version 10.2.1 on January 23, 2017.....about a year ago. As in 5 days from now it will be exactly 1 year.

      I would link the actual Apple web page but that link won't work here or my post won't post with a link in it. This is the release text below. It was a minor release hence the three line list. At the end to the 3rd line there is another link to the security fixes in this release.

      Anyhow line 2 states the power management change.

      iOS 10.2.1

      iOS 10.2.1 includes bug fixes and improves the security of your iPhone or iPad.

      It also improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone.

      For information on the security content of Apple software updates, please visit this website

    • lvthunder

      In reply to RonH:

      So your point is there should be no difference between iOS and Android. Just because one has a feature the other doesn't have don't mean users shouldn't be happy when it gets added.

  12. lightbody

    Does something actually pop up to tell the user YOU NEED A NEW BATTERY!

    Thats it this needs. Tell them they need one, and until they get one, their phone will be running slowly.