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Apple has replied to US government request for more details on the iPhone battery problem and its solution. The answers provided offer more information into the timeline of the temporary ‘throttle the CPU’ solution, but critically they also show that Apple’s disclosures fell short and a permanent solution is not yet in place.
There are likely to be a number of knock-on effects from the latest revelations. Apple’s $79 battery replacement fee is beginning to look more untenable. If $29 is good enough for the handsets that are affected by the throttled procedure, why do other handsets get charged an additional $50?
In its submission to the US Senate Commerce Committee
, Apple has acknowledged the price discrepancy in the batteries and has suggested the possibility of offering rebates to customers who have paid full price for replacement batteries – presumably on the aforementioned units but to may consumers ‘an iPhone is an iPhone’ so why are there two prices?
Apple has also acknowledged that it was aware of the battery problems as early as the fall of 2016, attributing this to a “manufacturing defect” and furthermore agreed that “its initial disclosures came up short.” It also noted that although implemented in the iOS update in January 2017, it did not disclose the throttling’ concept until a month later.
Perhaps most importantly, Apple’s reply to another committee (The Energy and Commerce Committee) highlights that Apple does not know of a solution to this problem beyond slowing down the handsets. Reuters reports that:
Apple told the committee that it would consider extending its reduced-cost battery replacement program beyond 2018 if it can’t find a way to prevent sudden shutdowns in older iPhones without throttling processor speeds.
Apple continues to re-iterate that the decisions to throttle the CPU of the iPhone is about delivering the best user experience and not some conspiracy-fuelled method of selling more handsets. Apple would “never, and would never, do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” it has stated in the last few weeks.
The details that are coming to now back up this view, but it also illustrates a bigger picture of Apple’s reaction to the battery issue, both before and after it was publicly confirmed. And it is a picture not of a simple problem but one that is rooted deep inside the iPhone hardware.
Now read more about the problems lying in wait for the iPhone X family during 2018…