A few weeks ago Apple admitted that it has been actively tinkering with our old iPhones. But is this OK?
‘Stuff’ just doesn’t seem to last that long anymore, and the stuff we own is generally far more expensive. Thanks to a proliferation of contracts and credit schemes, it’s possible for more people to enjoy the latest and greatest technology without breaking the bank.
Chief among these luxury purchases is the smartphone, and never far behind the most expensive of them is Apple’s iPhone. And Apple, in case you’ve missed the news, has upset quite a few people recently.
It started when Primate Labs, owners of software that tests how quickly a phone operates, discovered that iPhones slow down as batteries age. Apple, rather surprisingly, admitted that yep, they’re doing that on purpose.
Why? Because in a nutshell, Apple says it helps prevent deteriorating batteries on iPhones from causing problems like unexpected shutdowns.
Is Apple looking after us?
This might sound like a good thing, and indeed some people think it is.
We recently gathered views on this issue in an online poll. Those who voted in the poll added that it’s ‘better slow than to have a flat battery’, ‘[helps phones to] have a longer life and maintain resale value’, and ‘it apparently prolongs the life of the battery and the most modern iPhones have more power than we need today to day things at the beginning’.
In a separate survey of more than 1,000 Which? members, 54% said they like Apple products because they ‘just work’.
In fact, Apple’s argument in its subsequent apology is that its goal ‘has always been to create products that our customers love’, and that keeping things in good working order is part of that goal.
But while many have accepted Apple’s stance, others haven’t been so understanding. Or are we right to be aggrieved?
In our online poll on the modifying of performance on older iPhones, we asked ‘Do you think this is good or bad for consumers?’, and 75% of respondents answered ‘bad’.
Comments included ‘it’s not good business practice to make a previous product worse in any way’ and ‘until now it is likely to have made people part with more money to buy a newer model’.
In fact, the thing that seems to have annoyed people the most isn’t that Apple started slowing down iPhones, but that it has been doing so for a year without making it clear to customers. And to rub salt into the wound, the ‘performance management’ has affected phones that were barely a year old.
We’re not happy with Apple’s approach to this issue, and feel there’s been a clear lack of transparency that can’t be excused with broad statements in terms and conditions.
People have a right to know if their products are being modified in some way, and we’d call on Apple and other companies to be far more open with their customers going forward.
Update: 25 January 2018
Following the recent news that Apple has slowed down older iPhones with ageing batteries via a software update, the upcoming update, iOS 11.3, will allow users to disable the power management feature. But the tech giant doesn’t recommend doing so.
According to Apple, this tool prevents older models from shutting down unexpectedly. Owners of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, SE, 6s, 6s Plus, 7 and 7 Plus will be able to manage the tool via the iOS 11.3 update, which is expected to be available to download in the spring.
Whether you’re an iPhone owner or not, how do you feel about Apple’s behaviour, subsequent apology and resolution?