Apple Slowing Down Older iPhones

If you’ve ever thought your old iPhone was feeling sluggish, you’re not alone. And you’re not imagining it: Apple has confirmed to multiple media outlets that it slows the performance of older iPhones in order to prevent their aging batteries from causing unexpected shutdowns.

Apple says it began slowing down the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and iPhone SE last year, and just began doing so with the iPhone 7, which is little more than a year old. The company’s statement came after a recent Reddit post and blog post on benchmarking tool Geekbench’s website sparked a conversation around the relationship between flagging iPhone performance and battery condition.

Apple may have the best of intentions. Having your phone occasionally slow down is probably preferable to coping with total shutdowns, as is prolonging the overall life of your battery. But some are reading the company’s statement as confirmation of a longstanding myth: Apple slows down old iPhones to get users to upgrade to newer, pricer models as a form of planned obsolescence. (The company also charges about $80 to replace an old iPhone battery with a fresh one.)
Either way, Apple is in some hot water over the issue. A pair of California residents have already filed a class action lawsuit against the company. They claim Apple interfered with the possession of their phones, as they did not consent to Apple’s meddling with their devices’ performance.

The California suit underscores the true issue here. It’s not Apple’s fault that the lithium ion batteries that power iPhones (and lots of other gadgets in our lives) become less potent as they age. But the company wasn’t transparent about its solution to this dilemma, nor did it give users a choice over the matter. When it comes to people who spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone 6 without being warned the device’s performance may lag after only a couple of years, frustration is understandable. (Apple told TechCrunch that in early 2017 that it “made improvements” to reduce the frequency of shutdowns in older iPhones, but did not clarify what those improvements were. Apple did not respond to TIME’s request for comment on the matter.)
Either way, Apple is in some hot water over the issue. A pair of California residents have already filed a class action lawsuit against the company. They claim Apple interfered with the possession of their phones, as they did not consent to Apple’s meddling with their devices’ performance.

The California suit underscores the true issue here. It’s not Apple’s fault that the lithium ion batteries that power iPhones (and lots of other gadgets in our lives) become less potent as they age. But the company wasn’t transparent about its solution to this dilemma, nor did it give users a choice over the matter. When it comes to people who spent hundreds of dollars on an iPhone 6 without being warned the device’s performance may lag after only a couple of years, frustration is understandable. (Apple told TechCrunch that in early 2017 that it “made improvements” to reduce the frequency of shutdowns in older iPhones, but did not clarify what those improvements were. Apple did not respond to TIME’s request for comment on the matter.)