Apple admitted to slowing down iPhones with old, failing batteries. This article covers how to check if a failing battery is slowing down your iPhone.
A conspiracy theory has been brewing for some time. Some iPhone users have noticed that their devices are slowing down over time. Many tech pundits claim that this is done intentionally, to force users to upgrade their iPhones. Apple confirmed that they smooth out processor peaks on iPhones with old, failing batteries. This is done to prevent the device from shutting down unexpectedly.
Any reasonable person would see that this helps people keep their device longer. Unfortunately, the Internet is full of unreasonable pundits with patron-funded agendas. Their livelihoods depend on defaming Apple, no matter what they do. If they’re not directly backed by Apple’s competitors, they are writing click bait. Articles that bash Apple tend to do very well for major corporate Internet publishers. There is an annual surge of Apple-defaming media during the Christmas shopping season.
Whether you think Apple’s actions are nefarious or benevolent, if you own an older iPhone, you need to consider replacing the battery. Apple is offering $29 battery replacements for most iPhone models. This service usually costs $79. The discount applies to any iPhone 6 or later. Yes, you can even have the battery in your brand-new iPhone X replaced for $29. Apple’s battery replacement program runs through December 2018.
Use Geekbench to Check If iPhone Battery Is Slowing down Your Device
Geekbench is a cross-platform benchmarking utility. It enables users to test device performance and compare results against other devices. Geekbench was used to determine that Apple was throttling phones with failing batteries. Although Apple is developing a utility to provide information about the iPhone battery, for now, Geekbench is your best option.
You can install Geekbench 4 from the App Store. The app only costs 99 cents, which is a bargain, considering it provides a wealth of information. Once installed, launch the app and select which benchmark you would like to test. Since this issue was detected using the CPU benchmark, that’s what should be tested first. Although there is a battery benchmark, this test takes a long time and only measures how long the battery lasts under simulated usage. While this can indicate battery problems, we still won’t be able to ascertain whether your iPhone is being throttled.
Before you start this test, make sure that your iPhone isn’t in Low Power Mode. I actually thought my iPhone was being throttled. I eventually remembered that I put it in Low Power Mode a few hours prior to running the test. Go to Settings > Battery to check if Low Power Mode is turned on. Turn it off if it is already on. Unlike other companies, Apple doesn’t cheat and override Low Power Mode if a popular benchmarking tool is running a test. They don’t invest engineering resources in cheating benchmarking tests.
You will also want to make sure that your iPhone has some battery power left before running the test. Geekbench tests are intensive and drain battery power quickly. My iPhone was at 10% and shut down while running the test.
Tap on CPU under “Select Benchmark” to view the test’s details. Tap Run Benchmark to run the test. The test takes 2 to 20 minutes to run on an iPhone 6. You will see the test progress as different algorithms are executed. Results are displayed upon completion of the test. Tap on the Single Core or Multi Core tabs to see how your iPhone compares to other devices, including the same model. If the score is lower than the baseline for your iPhone model, your device may be slowed down due to a failing battery.
freshly charged, the Geekbench scores may be normal. As the battery depletes, it may deliver less current, which may cause it to slow down. If your iPhone feels sluggish, try running Geekbench again.
Observing a Throttled iPhone
Geekbench isn’t infallible. As mentioned, users can get a false negative result, depending on the condition and charge level of their battery. Temperature can also affect results. I ran the test on my iPhone 6 when it was at 10% battery level, and it shut down. It was tested again at 95% and it was much faster than the baseline for an iPhone 6. I do think it is possible that my iPhone is being throttled under certain conditions. Fortunately we do know the characteristics of iPhone throttling:
- longer app launch times
- lower frame rates while scrolling
- backlight dimming
- lower speaker volume
- gradual frame rate reduction in some apps
- during the most extreme cases, the camera flash will be disabled as visible in the camera UI
- apps refreshing in the background may require reloading upon launch
If you experience any of these issues, your iPhone is being slowed due to battery problems. You may want to confirm this with a Geekbench test.
Apple’s Battery Monitoring Tool
Apple pledged to add a battery monitoring utility to iOS 11 in early 2018. This tool will display the condition of your iPhone’s battery. It will clearly indicate whether your iPhone will be slowed due to a chemically aged battery. If your iPhone doesn’t exhibit overt signs of throttling, I recommend waiting until Apple’s utility is available. Also, if you don’t want to spend 99 cents on Geekbench 4, Apple’s utility will be free.
Replace Your Battery Regardless of Condition
Given that the price of battery replacement has been slashed dramatically, I recommend replacing your battery, regardless of its condition. Even if you just bought a new iPhone X and it is only a few months old, a fresh, new battery will extend its lifespan. I have decided to replace the battery in my iPhone 6, regardless of test results. Even though I plan on upgrading my iPhone this year, I always keep my old iPhones. An old iPhone is far more useful than selling it for $135. (Yes, my old iPhone 6 is really worth $135. No other smartphone retains its value like an iPhone.)
Check If You Are Eligible for Free Battery Replacement
A batch of iPhone 6S devices ended up having faulty batteries. Apple will replace the battery in these devices for free. These iPhones were manufactured between September and October of 2015. Apple offers a web-based tool for verifying affected devices. Simply enter your device’s serial number to determine eligibility for a free battery replacement.