Smartphones: ‘Batterygate’ depletes Apple’s goodwill
“Apple just said something it rarely says: ‘We apologize,’” said Will Oremus in Slate.com. The world’s most valuable company acknowledged last week that it has used software updates to slow down older iPhones to help preserve the devices’ batteries. That “long-unacknowledged” feature, which the company says was designed to extend the devices’ life but often caused slower scrolling or app delays, has “fueled conspiracy theories” that the company was deliberately slowing older phones to prod customers “to buy new ones.” Apple conceded it should have been more transparent, and announced it was slashing the price of battery replacements from $79 to $29 and providing an iOS update in early 2018 to give users “more visibility” into the health of their battery. Any apology from Apple is “unusual,” said Matt Weinberger in BusinessInsider.com. But this one was all the more “extraordinary” because it wasn’t about malfunctioning hardware or a software glitch; it was about “a choice Apple consciously made.” And it could “fundamentally change a key piece” of the company’s business. Vast numbers of iPhone owners have upgraded to new devices at great expense because their phones became “slow and buggy.” Apple just conceded that “merely swapping the battery” might have resolved the issue.
Apple’s apology “is not enough. Not even close,” said Gordon Kelly in Forbes.com. The company has revealed that its batteries are essentially “substandard,” and rather than adopting wholesale changes, it’s opted for a Band- Aid–type solution. When Samsung had problems with the exploding Galaxy Note 7, it pledged “to overhaul its battery technology.” Apple’s customers likewise deserve “major battery refinements and ongoing battery replacement policies.” Yes, Apple should have been more upfront about this problem from the beginning, said Dan Frommer in Recode.net. But the company’s response to this crisis, contrasted with its clumsy, arrogant handling of ‘Antennagate’ back in 2010, has been “clear and good.” Apple’s big lesson here? “A little proactive communication could have gone a long way.”
So what does all this mean if you own an iPhone? asked Mike Snider in USAToday.com. If you feel your device is running slowly, check the battery. Apple’s soon-to-come iOS update will provide detailed insights, but you can make an initial check by clicking on your phone’s Settings and then Battery. You can also download an app like Battery Life, which will provide a detailed rundown. The phone’s battery is designed to hold at least 80 percent of its original capacity for 500 charge cycles. If you have AppleCare, Apple will replace your battery for free if it retains less than 80 percent of its capacity. For everyone else, Apple’s reduced $29 replacement fee kicks in later this month. One thing is now clear: “If your iPhone seems slow, buying a new one isn’t your only option.”