iPhone 8 rendering

Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed an upcoming software update that will allow users to decide whether to prioritize system performance or stability. The move follows a revelation that Apple was choosing to slow down older devices to avoid unexpected shutdowns.

“We’re going to give people the visibility of the health of their battery, so it’s very, very transparent,” Cook said in a Wednesday interview with ABC News. “This hasn’t been done before, but we’ve thought through this whole thing and learned everything we can learn from it.”

In December, a Reddit user called TeckFire noticed that GeekBench performance scores increased when the battery in older phones was replaced. Apple later confirmed to TechCrunch that the company released update version 10.2.1 in 2016 that slowed down phones with older batteries, because the company found that placing too high a power demand on old batteries caused the phone to switch off. Initially rolled out to the on iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, and SE, the company brought it to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus in version 11.2 in 2017.

The company said in an open letter that it would change things in two ways. The first was to lower the price of out-of-warranty battery replacements from $79 to $29 for the iPhone 6 or later, an offer available globally until December 2018. The second was a software update that showed how performance was affected.

On Wednesday, though, Cook appeared to go one step further by revealing that the update would let people choose whether to use the feature or not.

Tim Cook Apple CEO ABC interview.
Cook in the ABC interview.

“We will tell someone we’re reducing your performance by some amount in order to not have an unexpected restart,” Cook said. “And 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.”

The saga has taken a toll on Apple’s public image, as consumers fear the company has purposefully slowed down old phones to encourage upgrades.

“Our actions were all in service of the user,” Cook said. “I can’t stress that enough.”


Photos via ABC