Dec 21, 2017

Apple admits to slowing down some older devices

A customer tries out a new Apple iPhone 6S at an Apple store in Chicago. Photo: Kiichiro Sato / AP

Apple's move to deal with old batteries has thrown gasoline onto a long-simmering debate over why iPhones seem to slow down significantly as they get older.

What's happening: The company said Wednesday that, under specific circumstances, it does reduce performance on devices, but said the move is necessary to avoid total device shutdowns. The acknowledgment came after a Reddit discussion was followed up with a benchmarking firm confirming something amiss in its testing.

Why it's such a big deal: People have long suspected that Apple does something to slow their older devices. Now, critics feel they have proof.

Yes, but: This probably isn't the widespread issue many have been claiming to experience over the years. While Apple does scale back performance, it only does so under specific circumstances, when a degraded battery encounters more demand than it can reliably satisfy.

  • This can happen because a battery is near the end of its useful life, is cold, or is nearly depleted.
  • The alternatives would be to either shut down the phone or risk damaging its components, Apple says.

My thought bubble: Apple could have avoided some of the grief it got by being more upfront sooner about what it was doing. The company generally does what it thinks is the right thing, rather than leaving it up to customers. There are a lot of benefits to that approach, but sometimes Apple wrongly assumes people don't want to know what their device is up to.

Other takes:

  • WSJ's Joanna Stern: Apple's software does the right thing but the company should be more transparent — and make it easier to replace the battery.
  • CNBC's Todd Haselton: Apple should replace old batteries instead of slowing down aging phones.

Go deeper: Searches for "iPhone problems" spike near new releases

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,347,803 — Total deaths: 74,807 — Total recoveries: 277,402Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 368,196 — Total deaths: 10,986 — Total recoveries: 19,828Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January the coronavirus could take over half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, memos obtained by Axios show.
  4. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  5. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  6. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  7. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
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Docs: Navarro memos warning mass death circulated West Wing in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

  • By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Driving the news: Navarro's grim estimates are set out in two memos — one dated Jan. 29 and addressed to the National Security Council, the other dated Feb. 23 and addressed to the president. The NSC circulated both memos around the White House and multiple agencies.

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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