Here’s the thing. Everyone and everything dies. Including batteries. Damn I didn’t mean to sound so morbid in the beginning of the post. But that’s truth isn’t it. So very recently we received an apple apology wherein they admitted to slowing down phones via updates.

The reason that they gave was, you know what let me quote them for you and then we will look into this together. And I will explain you the whole scenario as if you were a 5 year old kid.

skeptical baby

Apple apology in their own words,

We’ve been hearing feedback from our customers about the way we handle performance for iPhones with older batteries and how we have communicated that process. We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologise.

So everything started when quite a few amounts of iPhone users started complaining about sudden system shut downs in certain situations.

Especially so when the battery levels were below a certain low point.

In order to address this situation, apple rolled out an update and acknowledges that in their post like so,

About a year ago in iOS 10.2.1, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, and iPhone SE. With the update, iOS dynamically manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown. While these changes may go unnoticed, in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.

Customer response to iOS 10.2.1 was positive, as it successfully reduced the occurrence of unexpected shutdowns. We recently extended the same support for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in iOS 11.2.

TL;DR if are too lazy to go through the posts. A few people when finding out that their iPhone isn’t as fast as it used to be, replaced their battery and still slow performance continued.

Let’s talk batteries

If you don’t know it already. Smartphones derive their juice from a Lithium-Ion battery.

Now as I want this article fairly comprehensive, lets talk about  a few characteristics of this juice box.

And don’t worry I will keep everything all inclusive and not geek exclusive.

So allow me to tell you why Li-Ion battery is so widely used for electronic devices.

I will use some data published in an article by Texas Instruments.

Cell TypeNi-MHNi-CdLi-Ion
Gravimetric Density
(W-HR/KG)
555090
Volumetric Density
(W-HR/L)
180140210

Science nerds and engineers would have grasped this but for everyone else allow me to elaborate.

W-HR/KG stands for watt hour per kilogram, which basically means if all of these batteries had 1 kg weight how much comparative power will they give.

W-HR/L stands for watt hour per volume, this implies if all of these batteries had 1 Liter volume how much comparative power will they give.

You will see Li-Ion battery knocks the socks out of Ni-Cd (Nickel-Cadmium) and Ni-MH (Nickel-Metal Hydrite)batteries.

Why because you will have more power in small sizes.

There are many more reasons to choosing Li-Ion but this is the biggest.

I don’t want to go into too much details.

Now have a look at this graph,

Now human beings always and will always conduct experiments. So they conducted experiments on Li-Ion battery too, because why not ?.

So they plotted a capacity to recharge cycles curve under controlled situations and come up with something that looks like this.

Li-ion battery graph

I know, I am very artistic. No need to pat my back for such nice and detailed graph.

Anyhoo, my arts are not the point. The point is,

Everything dies.

It’s about time I explain the morbidity. And how does it all connect to the apple apology.

With the table we found out why Li-Ion is widely used not just by apple but any and all hand held devices active in times we live in.

And by the second graph I wish to point out that doesn’t matter how perfect we think something is it has its decline period and batteries are no exception to that.

cat gifs

Now here’s the thing.

As a consumer if you slap my face with this reality, that with time certain consumable parts of my system will wear off.

I am okay with that slap because,

Everything dies, of-course.

A touch of Truth ?

So now let’s take the whole apple apology in perspective.

Apple rolled out respective updates to fix the sudden shut down issue that iPhone users were facing as pointed out in the quote.

The update fixed the issue but as it turns out apple wasn’t clear as to how it actually fixed IT.

The problem was due to chemical ageing of battery, it couldn’t fulfill certain points of peak performance and shut itself off.

A chemically aged battery also becomes less capable of delivering peak energy loads, especially in a low state of charge, which may result in a device unexpectedly shutting itself down in some situations.

Here’s where things got really crazy. In order to fix this issue the update actually reduced the performance of the iPhone in certain situations so that it doesn’t just suddenly shut off.

Consequence to the updates were that people started complaining about higher app load time, start-up time and in general lower performance.

I want you to understand we live in a time where people have better relationships with their iPhone than their family.

So you bet your pennies that they are gonna notice.

And notice they did.

i see what you did there

And then when they receive the apple apology, all hell broke loose.

If you look at a poll that Lewis from Unbox Therapy posted on his tweet.

82 % percent of people think that if they saw that their phone is slowing down getting a new phone is the first thing that comes into their minds.

The Consumer Anguish,

People’s anger is not because apple’s update slowed down their device, well it’s partly because of that.

But the primary reason for the anger was, with all this non-telling from apple side led them to believe that apple was consciously slowing their device down so that it can drive the iPhone users to get a newer iPhone.

And since most iPhone users are so used to the “apple ecosystem” there is a big chance that the next device they choose is also going to be the one that,

  1. provides an ease of transition from their older device
  2. is compatible with other devices they already have in their ecosystem (homepod, iPad, Apple watch)
  3. provides them the same level of performance they are used to because no one likes change obviously.

Meaning another iPhone.

So naturally as soon as the iPhones started going all turtle, many people just straight upbought the newest rabbit, i.e., a newer, better and more importantly faster iPhone.

impossibru guy

Many of these people would have been happy, just to swap their dying battery with a newer one.

Rather than just throwing their hard earned cash on a newer phone.

Yet another group of people I found in a forum angry because they reported the issue to apple store but were reassured that there is nothing wrong with their phone.

And whatever performance they were getting should be expected.

And you can’t blame them can you ?

Many were angry not over the fact that apple’s update slowed their phone but because apple was not transparent about it.

And of-course some people were angry because they found another reason to be angry and yell at random stuff.

Freedom of speech ya’ll.

Good times.

The amendments following the apple apology,

So for all this situation that built up, apple responded in a way any responsible company would respond.

An apple apology letter that we all saw.

And this guide that tells you how to best take care of your battery for longer and better performance.

Not only that, they promised to replace the battery of an out of warranty iPhone 6 and later) with a new battery for 29 $ (50$ less than what it would cost) through December 2018.

And with a later update they will incorporate a feature that will acquaint the users with the status of their battery.

Early in 2018, we will issue an iOS software update with new features that give users more visibility into the health of their iPhone’s battery, so they can see for themselves if its condition is affecting performance.

An engineer’s perspective,

Allow me to gather everything we have discussed till now.

And also look at everything from an inclusive eye rather than opinion.

One very important factor that an engineer has to take into account if he is creating something are the limitations of what he is creating.

Every product that we encounter today especially electronic products comes with this word attached to it called “warranty“.

third world skeptical kidNow for most people as soon as they see the word warranty, the image that forms in their mind is that nothing will happen to their device in the mentioned time period.

But almost everyone of them know that isn’t true.

In very rare cases does the company replace your device if it gets some kind of problem in the warranty period.

And mostly they just fix it and give it back to you.

And what kind of warranty they give if the consumer is not aware of is realized only when they see this small warranty card they find in the package of the device.

Now if you as an engineer is aware of the limitations of what is being created.

The first and the only thing you can really do is create support systems or backup systems for it.

And more importantly be honest about it. And not be honest about it in some small font text in a small booklet that nobody reads.

The small booklet that the company throws at your face telling you that what you want is not something we can do;

Because it is not in our stupid book.

People are angry not because iPhones were being slowed.

And you know what when the battery isn’t fulfilling the power requirements of the device, it is only logical to manage the power management of the system.

Hell, my Dell laptop dims itself when I remove its charger.

People are angry because the transparency about the issue wasn’t propagated. The option to know there was a simple, easier and cheaper way of resolving the issue.

And the new feature that will tell you the chemical status of the battery.

Why isn’t that feature already in place if the limitation in Li-Ion battery was already identified.

That’s the limitation to be taken into account in the first place.

I want you to understand in engineering classes we only study theories.

Theories that in real world cannot be applied as it is.

Because of the shear number or random variables from outside affecting the theory.

And there should be no qualm in accepting that should there ?.

Apple is a great company. And it has done wonderful things in technology space. No question about that.

It has given certain things in the market which if it didn’t give.

There is a great chance it would have taken a long time for us to receive options that we now have as far as devices go.

Taking up a conclusion like “Apple is intentionally slowing down devices” isn’t the best answer in this situation.

Because we truly don’t know what was the real intention behind all of this or if there was any.

Its a maybe, maybe not situation. So let’s not waste our energy there.

Let’s waste our energy in actual facts. And the fact is,

The Consumer Won,

God damn, if we really see this, you will realize the power that we hold. A few guys raising and interpreting what was happening truly created an echo.

An echo that apparently fixed the issue and the approach one of the biggest companies had towards the issue for good.

Everyone looks up at apple. Consumers and competitors alike. And they should.

And realizing what power you hold now is truly freeing.

rejoice

Point is rejoice whatever works for you. Apple or android. And if something doesn’t feel right discuss it.

Who knows maybe its you who creates that echo next time.

 

See you in the next one.

Namaskaram 🙂 _/\_