Apple’s response to battery controversy: have a new one for $29
The past few weeks have been tumultuous for Apple ever since the company confirmed it slows down iPhones as their batteries age. In a message posted to Apple's website today, the company formally apologized to customers while explaining how iPhone batteries age, what Apple has already done to prevent unexpected device shutdowns, and what the company will do to address customer concerns.
"We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize," the letter reads. "There’s been a lot of misunderstanding about this issue, so we would like to clarify and let you know about some changes we’re making. First and foremost, we have never—and would never—do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades."
The final part of the message is the most important for customers, as it lays out Apple's plans to help them replace old iPhone batteries and better understand their device's battery performance. The biggest change is that Apple will lower the cost of out-of-warranty battery replacements for iPhone 6 models and later from $79 to $29—a discount of over 60 percent. The program will start in late January and will be available worldwide through December 2018.
The company will also add new OS features that give customers "more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery." While the message is vague about what this means in practice (UI additions? Battery management software? We're not sure yet), these features will come to iPhones through an iOS software update sometime in early 2018.
Apple may be able to boost the trust of some iPhone users with this battery replacement price reduction. However, it may frustrate those who have an iPhone model not covered by the program.
Some customers, though, have already been frustrated enough by Apple's practices to take the company to court. The idea that Apple slowed down the performance of older iPhone models has been swirling for at least a year, and some customers have proposed class-action lawsuits against the company for allegedly hiding this practice. Those lawsuits also claim that customers looking to get their smartphone batteries replaced were encouraged to buy a new iPhone.
It's important to note that Apple's newest message doesn't say it will stop slowing down the performance of old iPhones. Contrarily, Apple goes into detail about how this is a side effect of preventing unexpected shutdowns, and how battery age can affect a enhance the issue. Hopefully, Apple's forthcoming software additions will make it easier for users to understand how their use habits affect their iPhone's performance over time. That way users can possibly adjust their how they use their iPhone, the device's settings, and other features to preserve the integrity of the battery for a bit longer.
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