Quelle Surprise! Apple Rips Off Owners of Older iPhones

One of the reasons I have owned Apple desktop and laptop computers (once I finally had to abandon my NeXT) was that you could use them for longer than comparable Microsoft boxes (unless you were a hard core techie and very good at cannibalizing and reassembling parts). I used my TiBook for 8 1/2 years, and then a MacBook Air for 5 1/2 years, and probably could have eked another year out of it. That plus it requiring pretty much no tech support justified the high price.

Now Apple has knocked the foundations out from under the “longer potential product life” argument. While the Cupertino company admitted to misconduct only as far as older iPhones are concerned, it’s not hard to imagine that this extends to other products as well. Here is the overview from the Wall Street Journal, which gives only the official corporate-speak version:

Apple Inc., facing questions from users and tech analysts about reduced performance in older iPhones, acknowledged Wednesday that its latest software curtails the computing power of some models to prevent unexpected shutdowns..

The statement came two days after John Poole, founder of the computer-performance testing group Geekbench, wrote a blog post illustrating how iPhone computing performance slows as battery health declines on iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices.

Apple said that as iPhone batteries age, or in certain conditions such as cold weather or at low charge, they can struggle to respond to a phone’s power demands. This can cause the device to unexpectedly shut down to protect “its electronic components,” the company said.

Apple Inc., facing questions from users and tech analysts about reduced performance in older iPhones, acknowledged Wednesday that its latest software curtails the computing power of some models to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

It was a rare statement from the company that shed light on how Apple internally dealt with a growing user complaint.

The statement came two days after John Poole, founder of the computer-performance testing group Geekbench, wrote a blog post illustrating how iPhone computing performance slows as battery health declines on iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices.

Apple said that as iPhone batteries age, or in certain conditions such as cold weather or at low charge, they can struggle to respond to a phone’s power demands. This can cause the device to unexpectedly shut down to protect “its electronic components,” the company said.

If you believe Apple’s excuses, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. First, Apple didn’t fess up to its practice until it was caught out. Second, if this “throttling” were a benefit to customers, as opposed to Apple, they’d tell you about it proudly. I don’t know about how rapidly newer phone batteries decay, but as a laptop owner, it’s something I anticipate and expect to have to manage around as my machine gets older. Or at least they could have allowed customers to opt out of this throttling feature.

Let’s be clear as to what Apple is doing: it deliberately downgrades older phones when you update your software. And since Apple (and Google) heretofore have never demonstrated undue concern about the impact of drained batteries on devices, it’s pretty obvious that the reason for selectively downgrading the performance of older devices is to speed replacements.

And further consider: if Apple had choked performance across the board, that might have been too obvious, as well as too difficult to rationalize if outsiders could prove it or an insider leaked.

Business Insider published a more consumer-oriented story, save consistently presenting users who were early to flag the performance problem as “conspiracy theorists”. Ahem, if anyone engaged in a conspiracy, it was Apple that was conspiring against its customers. But in this Best of All Possible Worlds that we inhabit, anyone who questions the established order must be a rabble rouser or crank, right?

From Business Insider:

Apple has long inspired an almost religious devotion among customers and tech-aficionados — but it just seriously undermined its fans’ faith and loyalty.

The company on Wednesday admitted what some people have long suspected: that it has been secretly stifling the performance of older iPhones.

Critics have accused the company in the past, based on anecdotal evidence, of purposely slowing phones to compel users to upgrade to the latest model. While Apple admitted to the practice on Wednesday, it stressed that it did so for a purely altruistic reason — to prevent older phones from shutting down unexpectedly….

If Apple didn’t acknowledge that it was throttling older phones until one year after it started doing so, what else is the company not telling customers? Why should iPhone users believe the company’s explanation for why it’s throttling phones? And why should they believe that it only started doing that a year ago?

I wonder whether users have noticed performance on other types of Apple products after “upgrading” the OS. Note this latest revelation, as well as the

When I got my latest Mac laptop, I got the older version because the later one got poor reviews. Since I despise making any changes to my infrastructure, I waited a full six months after buying it to finally start using it. I also had a tech guy help me set it up, mainly because I have no tolerance for frustration.

The installed OS was at that point old, so he updated it. I was shocked that my new laptop, with 4 times as much RAM as the one I’d been using, was barely faster.

Michael Olenick wrote in a recent post describing why Apple’s recent security debacle, in which users of its latest OS, High Sierra, could have someone who had access to a machine gain root access in seconds, and then issued a patch that didn’t work, was a world-class security disaster. He concluded:

Apple – seriously?! Since the untimely death of Steve Jobs the company has been off their game. It’s not only this boneheaded move: despite a quarter-trillion dollars in the bank Apple has repeatedly failed to do anything interesting in about five years….

The root security bug is an obvious severe process failure but I think the flaw runs a lot deeper: Apple management just doesn’t seem to care anymore. The company lacks a passion that once fueled users even in the darkest days. Every senior person is insanely rich and just doesn’t seem to give a shit. The money might explain things but every senior person at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix is also ridiculously wealthy and they still seem to care. Even Microsoft management seems to be waking up: their Surface Studio computer is genuinely cool.

Lower level employees are friendly and competent. When the High Sierra upgrade destroyed a colleague’s computer Apple employees spent hours patiently talking to and texting her; they eventually restored it. Contrast that to Dell: family members bought my daughter a new Dell as a present from the US. It intermittently will not turn on and has been a brick for weeks. Nobody has been able to resolve the problem and Dell customer service is abysmal. But just because competitor computer makers are godawful doesn’t mean you have to be too. Besides, it makes better business sense to not nuke a computer with an update in the first place rather than providing friendly and helpful employees to spend hours restoring it.

There are countless articles comparing Apple CEO Tim Cook to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who succeeded Bill Gates. Ballmer, like Cook, raised revenue but sat idly by while Microsoft was clobbered in search, mobile, social, cloud, and virtually every other new tech development during his tenure. Now we’re watching Cook languish. I can’t tell Siri “next song” (well, I can but it doesn’t understand). iCloud is awful. The iPhone X looks suspiciously like a Samsung Galaxy from a few years ago. And, oh yeah, my eleven-year-old rooted the family Mac in seconds.

I’m never getting an iPhone and this incident confirms my decision that my next machine will be a Linux box. You’ve been warned.

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  1. Wade Riddick

    There are plenty of reasons to criticize some of Apple’s recent software changes – and I’ve done so in these forums in the past. But this is a real issue with lithium ion batteries and Apple’s changes under the hood resemble its invisible management of bad blocks in EEPROMs/Flash memory.

    As your phone ages, memory blocks go bad and get seamlessly flagged as unusable, slowly shrinking your available memory. Google refused to do this with Android and it resulted in enormous performance degradation as their early phone and tablet products aged.

    These “new” changes in power consumption/performance tradeoffs were already engineered into the devices. There are two different CPU blocks in the processor, one optimized for FLOPS and another for power consumption. This trade off occured all the time even before the update.

    Apple has its problems – and its interface work and software discoverability/useability/continuity is getting worse because it ignores its own user interface guidelines (making upgrades sometimes terrifyingly wrenching) – but in this instance I think it’s another case of Apple critic derangement syndrome. People have been saying Apple is stupid and doomed for thirty years.

    This new power management feature probably isn’t anything a Tessa wouldn’t do as its batteries age. Guess what? Your solar panels (aka solar batteries) will experience the same sort of senescence.

    1. Lambert Strether

      The issue isn’t “real issues” with the batteries; the real issues are with Apple’s business practices.

      If Apple was acting in good faith, it could have:

      1) Given users the option in Settings of choosing the behavior that Apple decided instead to implement for everyone and keep secret;

      2) Notified users that their battery was degrading — this could even be calendar-driven, if measuring battery life is a problem — and that they should take their phone to Apple and get their battery replaced.

      Apple did neither of these things. Note that the second option would have generated profit for Apple. By not adopting it, Apple makes a prima facie case that they acted to maximize profit, by “nudging” users into purchasing premium-priced phones they didn’t really need.

      AFAIK, battery degradation is not a new thing. And yet the idea of degraded batteries triggering degraded performance was only implemented in the recent past. Caveating that I don’t know the history of Apple’s battery technology, this also argues that the driver behind Apple’s decision was not technical but business (i.e., profit). This is Tim Cook’s Apple (and not Steve Jobs’).

      1. Steven

        What happens if you DO replace the battery? Does the ‘upgrade’ just look at the hardware version and slow things down if the phone isn’t Apple’s latest, most expensive model – even if there is a new battery?

        1. Self Affine


          That’s the question that needs to be answered. How does Apple know that the battery has degraded sufficiently to implement their slowdown software?

          And of course, Lambert is correct; if Apple is actually measuring battery integrity in some fashion, why not just flash a message indicating that the battery needs to be replaced?

          The Apple explanation isn’t logical and therefore probably not true.

          1. Travis Bickle

            OEM Apple iPhones & their batteries are carefully engineered NOT to be serviceable, and certainly not by users. This is, of course, a tactic to motivate upgrades, and those batteries under normal use start going south after something like a year and half.

            Not to fear, you can defeat this plot with a DIY battery replacement through ifixit.com, who sells a kit for the job with special tools, etc. Although it will will also cost you, it is better than a new phone, and there’s satisfaction to stiffing anyone trying to screw you over, even if you have to pay for it.

        2. Basil Pesto

          My understanding from what I’ve read in recent days is that if the battery is replaced, the built-in throttling in iOS is undone and it performs as new. This is what’s irritating about it to me. I understand that batteries have a limited lifespan, but my assumption had been that if I replaced, the performance of the phone itself would still be subpar. I had thought that Apple’s strategy had been to develop their OSs in a way that the old phones weren’t technically equipped to cope with (I didn’t think they did this in good faith – the idea that a computer as powerful as an iPhone would struggle to cope after just 2 years in a fairly rigorously controlled software ecosystem never made any sense to me). The idea that a battery replacement would have fixed my problems in the past is very annoying (it absolutely works as a nudge strategy). On the other hand, my phone has started slowing down (bought almost exactly two years ago, when it was release. cue chin-stroke emoji) and it’s somewhat reassuring to know that I can just replace the battery.

          1. Steven

            Apple is not alone

            I had thought that Apple’s strategy had been to develop their OSs in a way that the old phones weren’t technically equipped to cope with

            Interesting angle – forcing hardware upgrades with ‘feature-bloat’! The Evil Empire (Microsoft) does this pretty much out in the open. After a few years they just stop supporting old OS versions. But with Windows 10 they may have introduced a new twist. The Microsoft Update Assistant pretty much automatically gives you the latest version. However, with their Creator Update I’ve started receiving this error message:

            0xc1900107 Error while updating Windows Creator Updates

            There is a Microsoft help page that instructs you to check with your vendor to see if the update is supported by your hardware and its vendor. Mine is NOT. I have no desire to upgrade right now – and I also have no idea how to turn Update Assistant off to keep it from periodically downloading huge new versions of Windows 10.

            1. Steven

              I’m also wondering about firmware updates from the vendors of ‘smart TVs’ and content updates from providers like Netflix and Amazon (the latter of which sells its own competing hardware). We have more than adequate bandwidth for streaming video but seem to be getting messages to the effect of

              We are having trouble with your selection right now. Please try again later.” more and more frequently.
              It is possible to test for the existence of a particular hardware capability and bypass (or not install) the code if that capability is missing. From the perspective of an electronics hardware vendor one of the ‘problems’ with their products is that any item made well enough to last the length of a decent warranty will essentially last forever.
              So are there standards governing the support of ‘legacy’ software and hardware systems?

    2. cocomaan

      My work phone is an iphone 6s that’s less than two years old and the battery has gone to **** in the past few months. So has performance. Maybe that’s senescence, maybe it’s Maybelline, or more probably, it’s their crappy updates.

      Apple has basically crapped the bed and doesn’t care anymore. They’re starting to look like Microsoft.

    3. Oregoncharles

      “As your phone ages, memory blocks go bad and get seamlessly flagged as unusable, slowly shrinking your available memory.”
      Just substitute “brain” for “phone” (granted some have trouble telling the difference) and you have a great diagnosis.

    4. Anon

      Your solar panels (aka solar batteries) will experience the same sort of senescence

      Umm, I’ve been designing solar homes w/ solar panels since the Seventies, few consider them solar batteries. They do degrade over time (20 years or so), but that is due mostly to degradation of the glass encasement not the electronics. I have one system design that is now 27 years old (Siemens M-75 panels) and the degradation is less than 10%.

  2. Alex V

    The MacBook Air does actually have a replaceable battery, although not by the user (according to Apple, but it can be done). Costs 129 USD:


    Regarding the phone battery controversy, my personal opinion is only that they failed in not being transparent on what they are doing. From a perspective of keeping the phone usable vs inevitable battery aging, I think it’s actually quite a reasonable technical approach.

    1. Skip Intro

      I tend to agree. It is the kind of compromise that all software has to make, trading speed for resource conservation. To make it nefarious comes off as uninformed or worse. It would be much more reasonable to ask why the batteries can’t be replaced, or why the phones (used to) shut down so gracelessly. It would also be interesting to compare the age of these iphones to comparable competitors, before making statements about product life. I have suffered from the ongoing crapification of Apple products/services, and most other things, but this article misses the mark, and blames a reasonable solution that lets people keep their old devices in service longer.

      Also, I feel it would be more useful to look at the CPU speed to compare laptop performance rather than RAM amount, unless the RAM was so limited that the machine was always using ‘virtual memory’ in the form of a big file, so all access was slowed to file reading speed. Apple OS versions seem to swing between adding frills, and then pruning them back to claim performance improvements, so having an OS update reduce performance is not uncommon, though it is disappointing, and a symptom of misallocated resources, IMHO.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Regarding your second para, you don’t appear to understand how memory constrained I am on a regular basis. I frequently get messages saying I am out of application memory, have programs “paused” as a result, and/or have the entire machine freeze. This is way less graceful than on the older OS in my MacBook Air, with 1/4 the RAM, where the programs would get sluggish and I could take steps to improve responsiveness, like close windows (particularly any that were running autoplay ads, ugh) or application or clear cache or reboot certain applications (Safari’s older versions had a bad memory leak; I believe it’s still an issue but nowhere near as pronounced)

        1. Skip Intro

          I must indeed have underestimated your RAM usage. I hope your new laptop is maxed out on RAM and has either an SSD or one of those Apple hybrid HD/SSD drives. I am now envisioning you with 270 open tabs in safari… ouch.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I have as much RAM as my machine will take (16 GB) and maxed out on all the other features save the hard disk (I didn’t need a particularly big hard disk).

            I don’t use tabs but instead keep a lot of window open and usually run both FF and Safari at the same time. Plus mail with over 100,000 messages in my Inbox (although that should not load memory save when I open it and it synchs with the server to update the various mailboxes) and usually Word and Adobe open too (I am often looking at documents readers have sent when composing).

            I just about never use Calendar because having that open on top of the other programs I routinely have open would be overloading the machine.

            1. Other JL

              Not related to the article, but it sounds like SSD would improve your workflow considerably. Your machine is very likely doing a lot of swapping (flushing memory that hasn’t been accessed recently to disk, and loading older data from disk into ram), and swapping with an SSD is orders of magnitude faster than from a spinning disk.

            2. Self Affine

              I’m not a MAC expert but I think their OS is a Linux variant which is a pretty advanced multi-tasking OS using modern memory management techniques as well as exploiting hardware features.

              Regular Linux distribution allow one to adjust all OS primitives like partition size, priorities, etc, and its usually possible to configure a computer to not freeze up. In fact, I’m tying this on old laptop running Debian, which I have configured to boot off a 64gb Flash Stick, and it rarely gives up the ghost.

              It may be that your SWAP space (the area that the OS uses to page memory in and out) is too small (in your case it should be at least 32gb).

              Since the Apple OS is essentially a Linux/Unix flavor (I believe), maybe your MAC tech can look at just how your computer is configured and run some diagnostics for memory leakage and so on. This will require “root” access, which you should have.

              By the way, a lot of programs aren’t written very tightly any more, particularly those that execute Java, JavaScript and other scripting languages. For example: Mozilla does a terrible job of releasing memory when watching videos and causes a lot of memory bloat that can only be fixed by restarting the browser. Your Mac tech should be able to look at all of this using simple commands like ps, vmstat and others.

              Good luck

              1. david lamy

                MacOs is not a Linux variant. They use entirely different kernel architectures.
                Where they are similar is in their shell that one uses to interact with the OS.

                1. stan

                  Last I checked, MacOs runs on top of a FreeBSD kernel, which is a Unix variant. Shells come in many flavors, and much of what is available for linux is available for FreeBSD.

            3. Harry Cording

              Historically my record in FF is 1,742 tabs open. :-) But FF can no longer handle those kinds of numbers, in fact it can’t really handle 10 or 15 tabs anymore. It will leak memory until your 16GB is consumed and will then crash. Part of the problem is the huge volume of advertising flooding your web page (IMO an illegal corporate tax on your/our time). I now have FF set to recall/reopen previous tabs and make sure I turn off the browser often in order to flush out the memory. Restarting it takes me back to where I started with the same tab count. On average I try to hold it down to about 75 concurrent tabs. :-) While the recent “brand new” revision of FF does perform better, it still leaks like a sieve.
              Currently I’m working on building a hosts file that blocks all advertising servers, but even that is just one step in the arms race of trying to regain control over your own computer.
              One more thing: In my case Comcast is already metering my bandwidth and no doubt is working towards charging me by the byte.
              Does that mean they intend for me to pay THEM for the crapload of advertising they jam down my pipe?
              Reminds of the Chinese billing the executed prisoners family for the bullet, no?

              This is…

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, in fact now that I recall I did get a replacement battery at one point, but the whole experience was so painful that I blotted it out. For starters, the famed Genius Bar types found it difficult to diagnose whether my problem was a battery problem or a charger input problem (my battery suddenly stopped taking a charge altogether).

      For the “vintage” ones they only give you batteries that at best hold the same charge as the original. And I found when I replaced it that the “new” battery had maximum charge time that was only about 80% of the original, AND the “new” battery started deteriorating way faster than the original.

      By contrast, I use a truly ancient phone, and for that, you can get batteries that provide for way more talk/standby time than the original and charge faster too.

      And it was a super hassle dealing with Apple to schedule the battery swap. They wouldn’t allow me to pay and then drop the machine off in a time window, like having it in their hands for 24 hours when I had already paid for the part. They held on to it for days.

      I’ll revise the post. The reason I had to abandon my MacBook Air earlier than I liked was that solid state memory fails catastrophically and I couldn’t get any good stats on the typical life of the solid state storage v. conventional hard disks. Even though I back up regularly, with a hard disk fail, you have some odds of getting most/all of your data back while you apparently get 0 back from a solid state storage failure. Plus I was becoming memory constrained.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Samsung EVO solid state drives are excellent, fast, reliable but more expensive than equivalent conventional hard drives.

        Don’t buy a cheaper SSD unless you know what you’re getting into, backup regularly and/or don’t need the SSD for critical uses—as mentioned above if a SSD fails, it is impossible/very difficult in getting the data back.

        1. visitor

          I would actually suggest the EVO PRO line.

          In any case, for reliability and durability, avoid TLC and QLC flash, stick to MLC.

        2. flora

          an aside about SSDs vs HDs:

          “Flash storage handles data in a specific way. When data is written to a block, the entire block must be erased before it can be written to again. The lifespan of an SSD is measured in these program-erase (P/E) cycles. Modern, consumer-grade, Multi-Level Cell (MLC) NAND memory can generally endure about 3,000 to 5,000 P/E cycles before the storage’s integrity starts to deteriorate. The higher-end, Single-Level Cell (SLC) flash memory chip can withstand up to 100,000 P/E cycles. ”

          3-5000 p/e (write/rewrite) cycles sounds like a lot. In daily use by a power user it is not a lot. 100,000 is better, but still a limitation HDs magnetic on-off, 0-1, system doesn’t have. HD’s have different life-cycle limiting factors, mostly to do with the hardware mechanism itself or the ieee interface. ( trivia for tech buffs in the readership.)

          1. Self Affine

            Just to add a little bit to flora’s commentary. Check out the Synology NAS (network attached storage) and networking products.

            I find their stuff more computationally advanced than most things we find in corporate data centers and if you are concerned about data backups, security, and access – I recommend you check them out.

            As a caveat: this type of home/small business infrastructure requires quite a bit of technical know-how with respect to multiple technologies (protocols, virtual computing, security, networking). I.e., it will require an IT design, an implementation plan and operational considerations.

            But it’s entirely possible to build one’s own well managed mini-cloud.

        3. time2wakeupnow

          “The reason I had to abandon my MacBook Air”

          Depending on which model MacBook Air Yves had, most Air’s have very specific and/or proprietary types of blade SSD’s that are now mostly soldiered to the logicboard (as well as the memory), so your suggestion of perhaps replacing Apple’s laptop drives with a Samsung Evo (which is a very good drive) is most likely in Yves case, non-applicable.

          And as far as the newest 13 & 15″ “Touchbar” 2017 Macbook Pro’s ( to which Yves I believe was referring to as getting “bad reviews”), they are not at all user serviceable at all – with both their memory and blade SSD soldiered to the logicboard . In fact, even trying to remove the bottom cover of the laptop by also removing it’s proprietary screws (pentalobe) immediately voids any warranty you may still have left with Apple.

      2. Steven

        Anyone had any experience with a replacement battery from Batteries Plus or some other vendor besides Apple?

      3. visitor

        Even though I back up regularly, with a hard disk fail, you have some odds of getting most/all of your data back while you apparently get 0 back from a solid state storage failure.

        Were you the one who, a couple of years ago, told about problems with an atrociously irregular electricity supply because of the antiquated cabling in an old building?

        Studies carried out a few years ago showed that SSD are exceedingly sensitive to irregularities of the electric current. Of course, a spike can also fry an HDD; but while with a HDD a power failure will typically just lead to the loss of the last X minutes of work, it may well entirely corrupt an SSD beyond repair. Reference: Mai Zheng, Joseph Tucek, Feng Qin, Mark Lillibridge: Understanding the Robustness of SSDs under Power Fault, 2013.

        As for the long-term reliability of SSD, studies have been published by Google (reference: Bianca Schroeder, Raghav Lagisetty, Arif Merchant: Flash Reliability in Production: The Expected and the Unexpected, 2016). Their conclusion when comparing SSD and HDD:

        we find that the flash drives in our study experience significantly lower replacement rates (within their rated lifetime) than hard disk drives. On the down-side, they experience significantly higher rates of uncorrectable errors than hard disk drives.

        This seems to confirm somewhat your own experience.

        All in all, two more reasons never to use SSD for backups.

      4. Anon

        Yves, I had to get a swollen MBP battery replaced last year. I opted to do a mail-in repair rather than taking it to the store, as apparently the stores send out some (or maybe all?) of their laptop repairs anyway. My experience via the mail-in route was much different than yours — they overnighted me a box with a return shipping label, and I sent it out Tuesday and had it back Thursday morning. Priority overnight FedEx (the level that guarantees it by 10:30 AM or whatever) all ways. I’d recommend looking into that next time, if there is a next time.

        The reason I had to abandon my MacBook Air earlier than I liked was that solid state memory fails catastrophically and I couldn’t get any good stats on the typical life of the solid state storage v. conventional hard disks. Even though I back up regularly, with a hard disk fail, you have some odds of getting most/all of your data back while you apparently get 0 back from a solid state storage failure.

        My experience with SSDs in general is that they last longer than HDDs, assuming normal workstation use (the level of use is important due to the wear characteristics of NAND, as others have said), but you are correct that the failure mode seems more likely to be catastrophic whereas an HDD is more likely to exhibit signs of impending death.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Yes, on my TiBook, I replaced the HD at least once when it started hiccuping. No big deal. I did however had a really bad disk failure even with a HD once…got close to nothing back. My recollection is that that can happen with mechanical failures, that the thingie that moves around the disk to read the data does something functionally equivalent to skidding across the disk and scraping it. I know these aren’t the terms of art….so forgive me for not being buzzword compatible.

  3. none

    I saw it as a way to prevent shitty runtime rather than unexpected shutdowns or upgrade pressure, as the battery wears. The real problem is that the battery isn’t easily user-replaceable. You or your techie friends can do it but it involves disassembling the phone with special tools. The tools aren’t super exotic, just uncommon (Torx screwdrivers) and are typically included with battery replacement kits. Same for the Macbook Air. But yeah, I’m staying away from Apple stuff in general.


      It is american business’s way, planned obselences. Buy the same stuff over and over again. Why turn something new, we making money the old fashion way, riding on the back of the poor. The republic is the innovator not business.

  4. Temporarily Sane

    Apple no longer cares much about customer satisfaction. If they can get away with selling cheap, glued together crap for a premium or underclock older devices rather than fixing what needs to be fixed..:they will. There are apparently enough Apple devotees who will buy their stuff regardless of quality and customer service issues for the company to make a healthy profit.

    Among customers who complain about Apple’s crapification how many still buy their stuff and “hope they will improve”? I was one of those people..but since 2015 have only been buying Apple stuff from Craigslist. Why don’t I switch to Windows ot Linux and Android? OS X still runs circles around Windows (more or less) and Linux is just too barebones and buggy. And despite its limitations iOS is still a more cohesive – and more secure- system than Google’s Android. (I trust Google less than Apple – especially when it comes to their harvesting user info).

    Will I ever give up on Apple? Yes, if they keep dumbing down OS X and consumerizing their “Pro” line.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Interesting how tech brand loyalties sort of parallel political loyalties. People will “buy their stuff out of loyalties” and hope that new iterations will be improved, or at least less bad. All while complexity and vulnerability and looting behaviors just keep on massing up.

  5. John Wright

    Yves, I’m not so sure the slowdown in performance on battery powered iPhones is a crapification decision by Apple.

    One way to decrease power consumption in electronic devices is to slow down the clock rate, which will hurt computing performance.

    For a phone, there will be subsystems that cannot have their power consumption lowered, without affecting call reception, such as RF output power to talk to the cell tower or audio power to the headset.

    Power to the display backlight is another power consumption system that cannot be decreased without customer satisfaction problems.

    If Apple throttles down the CPU clock rate because the battery is getting near its end of life, this could be a good engineering decision as phone calls can be made/received with reliability and the customer could have a longer service life on the existing, worn, battery.

    If Apple monitors its battery well, the slowdown in clock rate should only kick in with well worn batteries and a newly installed battery will bring the performance back.

    There is a lot of effort in the electronics industry to extract long service life from Li-Ion batteries, and I’d assume Apple knows the relative state of its installed batteries quite well.

    Apparently a newly installed fresh battery does restore performance.

    Apple sure could inform the user that performance was being decreased because the battery needs replacement.

    But the decrease in performance with an aged battery could well be a reasonable decision for extending the service life of the older phones.

      1. Marco

        The price issue is THE important point in this discussion. If anyone has had the misfortune of reading John Gruber at daringfireball (a blogger who sees the face of Jesus in every new Apple product launch) these are “luxury” devices folks! They are worth the price point. Yeah right. My nephew’s iPhone 7 Plus can barely maintain a charge after major OS upgrade without being plugged in. All this hassle for a $799 luxury? Granted if he were my child he would have a cheap android but there are serious social consequences for teens with cheap phones. Apple can bugger off.

    1. Lambert Strether

      This is not an engineering issue. It’s a business issue (and hence an ethics issue). The user should be making this “trade off,” not Apple. And that one aspect of the trade-off is getting a very expensive new phone. I find it very hard to believe that Apple didn’t take that into account when this change was implemented.

    2. Carolinian

      This sounds to me like the most likely technical explanation of what is going on. While I don’t have an iPhone, and likely never will, a friend of mine had problems similar to what are listed above. I offered to replace the battery (tricky as the thing is glued to the motherboard with double stick tape) but she ended up getting a new iPhone.

      Perhaps the real problem is that these phones–unlike some of the older and more “primitive” Android phones–don’t have easily replaceable batteries. The Android phones I’m familiar with have a battery that pops out once you remove the back using a fingernail or credit card. Apple’s choice to make the battery a semi-permanent installation is the real planned obsolescence although they would, no doubt, claim they are doing it for your own good.

    3. ChrisPacific

      Sure, they could be doing that. Or they could be deliberately slowing it down to get people to upgrade (or a little of both).

      How would you tell the two scenarios apart? In the former case, you’d expect them to be transparent about it, let users know that it’s going on, and give them options to tune or adjust the changes to their liking (Android does this under power saving, giving you numerous choices for reducing power consumption along with a preset ‘low power’ mode). In the latter case, you’d expect it to be done as secretly and quietly as possible.

      Which scenario applies in this case I leave as an exercise for the reader.

  6. Olga

    It’s not just iPhones; am pretty sure that is what happened to my 2014 iPad mini. It slowed down, so silly me bought a new one…. never again!

    1. vlade

      Yep, this may well explain why I’ve been seeing massive slowdown of my old iPad (5 years or so) recently. The battery is being used up much faster than I remember, and it could be with that.

      I can understand the engineering decision around that – but it should be transparent to the user, who should be able to switch it off. I believed that iPhone already has some “energy saving mode” that the phone can go into when the bater is IIRC <10%, so it's not like it would be a super new feature either.

    2. Michael O

      iPad’s and iPhone’s use the same operating system, iOS, so anything that affects iPhones with also affect iPad’s. With a few exceptions in the newer pro iPad’s — like the stylus and multiple windows (sorta’) — they’re really just giant iPhone’s.

  7. Abi

    Lol this is very very true. I have an iphone 4s and an iphone 5 and a macbook from 2012, I learnt this the hard way, never upgrade your software, it’s not worth it. I always felt they made it so make you upgrade faster. I recently was forced to upgrade both my phone and laptop because they just got too slow even though both phones and laptop were perfectly fine.

    1. Skorn

      I tried to avoid a recent update to an iPhone 6 and experienced degraded service to the point of screen freezes, forcing my hand to update. The poor performance intensified after the upgrade install, then VERIZON began texting upgrade deal offers. Related?

  8. Xenophon61

    Despite what you — perhaps rightfully — call “crapification”, Apple’s desktop, laptop and mobile offerings are a world apart as professional tools.

    Myself, I’ve adjusted by computing (and buying) behavior to value functionality rather then raw speed.

    This has served me quite well for many decades, starting with the Apple ][.

    My desktops store > 6 Tb of medical image data and a personal photography collection. There have been no instance of data loss (on OpenZFS volumes).

    I just cannot envision a similar sense of stability on, say, Windows, and my Solaris and Ubuntu backup machines are not easy to manage.

    An iPhone 6 was kept in service for 3 years and switched to an 8 just a week ago – probably affected by some slowing down, I now realize!

    A laptop from 2007 runs Sierra, and is quite acceptable even to a “power user” like me :-) albeit with less snapiness (this, I can definitely live with).

    I also tinker with Linux and Windows 10 boxes, just for the heck of it.

    To my mind, the Apple universe is a uniquely friendly (and affordable, as there are far fewer mishaps) computing environment. In a class of its own.

    Excel can run on many platforms, but for medical imaging and photography, you are “locked” (albeit in a humane way) to the Apple devices ecosystem. So much cheaper, I believe!

    An automotive analogy would be Subarus for their versatility and sheer longterm value, despite some quirks.

    I wish them (both) well, and don’t mind some engineering tweaks that creep into their products.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      My experience is very different than yours and I am a desktop user only. Apple has gotten way worse over the years.

      First, I had a hard disk failure on my old TiBook with catastrophic data loss. Nothing was recoverable. And due to a problem with my backup disk, that was no good either. The most recent backup I had was on a secondary backup disk and that was three months old. Even with the fact that the overwhelming majority of what I do is on the blog of via e-mail (hence not exclusively on my machine) I still lost important records.

      Second, Apple has been throwing its “creative” users under the bus. Harry Shearer has gone on long form on Twitter how Apple equipment changes in recent years have made them cumbersome for musicians and recording studios to use. Apple has deliberately ignored the fact that studios use CDs because an overwhelming priority in recording studios is to make absolutely sure the “talent” can’t mess with the settings. Apple’s elimination of any laptops with CD/DVD slots was a big stick in the eye to the entire profession.

      By contrast Lambert, who is a programmer and hosts his own site, has also found that Apple’s continuing and misguided integration of the OS for the desktop and the IoS has made him want to abandon the Mac too, despite 20 years of experience and great knowledge of the system and shortcuts. The only reason he doesn’t is there are 2 programs that are important to him that don’t have satisfactory versions on Linux. And both he and I regard disk partitions and having to work with two operating systems as too kludgey and time inefficient.

      Third, I am hardly a demanding user in terms of the range of what I do, yet I find the Mac to be getting worse all the time. I bought a new machine that was as souped up as I could get, yet found hardly any performance improvement, when my main motivation for getting a new machine was that I was memory constrained on a daily basis. I have two laptops and both hard freeze anywhere from once a week to daily, so I know it’s not a problem with the particular machine but with the product. I regularly have problems with copying and pasting in both Firefox and Safari (at the same time) and have to reboot to fix that. I can’t recall ever having anything like that happen in the last 25 years of using computers, and more than 25 years ago, I had a secretary. I could go on.

      You may still like your Mac, but there is no way to deny that it is becoming increasingly crapified. The massive security failure alone is as big red flag you are ignoring.

      1. skippy


        The demands of code proceed the hardware development for point of sale of integrated OEM units, not that anyone would game that…

        Aside. I have just about finished my build w/ data migration to M.2 SSD and all I can say is after benching it is, wow, not to mention running demanding programs or browser activity. I guess the best analogy I can offer is like race car drivers of old not being grounded in the engineering aspect wrt to car performance vs. today.

        The need of the user vs. the generic OEM build and attendant crossover conflicts can not match a bespoke build, not to mention price, long term.

        1. Clive

          Office documents. Yes, I know you can get open source software that will read MS Office documents. But interoperability is patchy. To ensure that you can read what the author of the document has saved and sent you in a file, the MS Office user needs to save in Open Document Format. Which isn’t the default, and yes, guilty as charged, I am too lazy and just save in *.doc, *.xlsx etc.

          If you don’t then several Office document features simply don’t work in open source equivalents. Formatting, track changes, some highlighting, tabs, bulleted lists — I’ve had issues with all of these when using non-MS office apps. Oh, and that’s just in Latin-based languages. Try using Chinese character sets, like Japanese (kanji). I can guarantee you that often used non-Latin language features such as furigana (contextual reading of kanji as an overlay atop the kanji) is never properly or reliably supported — or even supported at all — when exchanging documents between MS Office applications and open source alternatives.

          If you rely for your living on seemless transfer of documents you have to accommodate what the sender sends you. You simply don’t have time (and your contacts only have so much patience to put up with) endless delays and explanations that, oops, sorry. I can’t open what you sent / it doesn’t render quite right and apologies, can you send it again in x- or y- format.

          I have tried every open source Office application alternative going, each has had issues of some sort or another.

          And while Windows is horrible and flawed and Microsoft, I’ve invested 30+ years in getting to know and work around its many foibles. Asking me to throw any more of my time and energy at learning something different is not, an-hem, a task I will accept with alacrity.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, Office is why I may wind up stuck with Apple despite really wanting to escape the next time I have to buy a machine. I get sent tons of stuff in Word, plus on those times I write for other pubs (not often as I should), they often want the submission in Word so they can use “track changes” to show me their edits.

      2. The Rev Kev

        My commiserations on having to deal with such computer ******dry . I think that at this stage you may have to ask yourself if you will be still using Apple in five years from now. If so, fair enough. If not, then perhaps perhaps it may be prudent to put together a plan of action on how to migrate to a new operating system.
        Any new selected operating system would only be on a nominal basis (a lot can change on the computer scene in five years) but having a hard copy plan may help in case you are again the victim of a total loss. You probably already do this but perhaps it may be prudent have a copy of your files on a separate physical hard drive on your computer. That way, if your computer system goes down in flames, then you have a copy on a separate physical disc that can be pulled from your machine.

  9. John

    Apple recognized that as lithium batteries aged they no longer could supply as much peak power. iOS now recognizes this and takes action to spread out power demands so that the system works properly. The alternative would be that the the phone would unexpectedly crash. Replace the battery and performance is restored. Apple will replace it for $79 or free under AppleCare.



    If you don’t like what Apple has done then you are welcome to try something else. Good luck with that.

    1. mcarson

      How about i-pads that can’t load anything but the weather.
      It can’t load email any more.
      They deliberately make their updates unworkable for older devices.
      There is no reason an older iPad can’t load Netflix, but the last update has made it impossible.

    2. thoughtful person

      If battery life is an issue, the solution is to make the battery replaceable, not crap the performance of the device. Unless you want to sell more new models…

      I’ve been using samsung phones and was quite disappointed the latest models are following apples lead in making the battery not user replaceable. The older replaceable battery models were great. Of course, then you can actually turn the phone off manually, by removing the battery… Would not want to be able to do that right?

      1. Jack

        I agree. I am not an Apple user. Never have been (except for trying out a $600 Ipad for my boat navigation, that after 6 months I have come to HATE). I made that choice back in 1990 when I realized that Apple did not allow you to tinker or change their OS at all. Windows left you some control. After reading this article and all the previous comments one thought kept coming to mind. Who in the world would by a product where you could not change the battery? That is just a completely alien concept to me. Since I am not an Apple user I had no idea that you could not change the batteries in their phones. Now that I know this (and after my one Apple toe dip with an Ipad), I am even more sure that I will never, ever buy an Apple product.

        1. Octopii

          I hated using the iPad for navigation until I got vector-based charts. Now it seems pretty good to me. Unloading and loading raster charts is definitely hateful, if that was your experience.

    3. JBird

      It does seem like the company management just doesn’t care to be competent. No, that’s not quite it. They do not take that last few extra steps needed to ensure everything works well together, unlike the Blessed Steve Jobs, and they don’t want to accept that their products are more like utilitarian tools now than the sexy cool stuff that they were.

      I bought my iPhone 6 used just like most of my too large book collection, and my furniture because I’m a college student who needs his tools not his sexy cool toys.

      Perhaps they are thinking of the limited choices. Apple, Microsoft, and Linux. Rather like the cable company or broadband. No real choices.

    4. JBird

      I think it’s more than customer service as they could have just told everyone what they were doing, strip down the updates for older models, make the batteries either self replaceable or one day service, and make sure that the latest upgrades did not have a tendency to randomly brick phones, laptops, and desktops for whatever reason. It’s crapification.

    5. Lambert Strether

      Right, which is why Apple notifies you about the problem and encourages you to get your battery fixed, instead of just slowing down your phone so you blow a thousand or so bucks buying a new phone you don’t need.

      Oh, wait. They didn’t do that, did they?

      There are many comments on this thread that fail to make a distinction between Apple’s past history of technical and design excellence and Apple’s business practices. To those commenters: Do better.

      1. Skip Intro

        Part of Apple’s ‘design excellence’ lies in hiding technical details and options and hard-wiring a solution for 90% of consumers. This has been a frustrating part of being an Apple developer for many years, but one of the benefits of being an Apple customer, who doesn’t need to track down graphics driver versions or play Windows ‘Registry Roulette’ when installing anything.

        I haven’t seen any evidence other than supposition that this is a business practice rather than a low level solution to a fundamental hardware limitation. People with older phones are probably already not overly motivated by performance, so believing that reduced performance is needed to drive sales of an item that is already fetishized to the point that each release is a media event on the evening news seems a bit too paranoid.

        What would your ideal notification say? “Your phone battery is losing capacity, would you like to reduce performance in order to avoid random shutdowns and damage to your device?” What percent of rational users would say ‘no’ to that? For a phone, reliability is far more important than performance. My MacBook has 2 GPUs, a fast powerful one, and a meek, battery conserving one. The OS can switch between these. In the iphone, this tradeoff is done in software.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Come on. It’s not hard to tell when your battery is degrading and you might consider replacing it. Your time between charges shortens and becomes enough of a nuisance that you go and buy a new battery.

        2. Lambert Strether

          > Part of Apple’s ‘design excellence’ lies in hiding technical details and options

          Oh, please. iOS nags me to put my trust in their (stupid, evil) Cloud daily. And they nag me to upgrade, and have designed the dialogs so that if I “tap, tap” in the same spot instead of reading the messages carefully and tapping in two different spots, I give them permission to upgrade when it’s plugged in during downtime. And I can’t even turn the stupid things off!

          So please don’t tell me they can’t notify me to upgrade my battery, instead of nudging me to spend a thousand bucks on a new phone. It’s absurd.

          > What percent of rational users would say ‘no’ to that?

          The kind of user who doesn’t have a thousand bucks lying around to buy a new phone, but wants the speed side of the tradeoff?

      2. JBird

        Isn’t crapification part of business practices? Better profits by making, or doing, worse? That is what I always assume.

    6. Clive

      Apple nagged me for months about using a 32bit app for which support would be withdrawn post iOS 11 which is 64bit only. In essence, Apple was using nudge theory techniques to get users to get developers to recompile their apps for the sole purpose of enabling Apple to simplify its codebase. For the vast as majority of users, 64bit was not a necessary mandatory requirement and Windows supports dual running of both 64bit and 32bit apps side by side.

      So don’t give me this rubbish about Apple coding up iOS to “save” users from the “burden” of having to make performance vs. reliability trade-offs in an inevitable situation where battery capacity and peak power output falls. Whenever it suits Apple, they shove these right in their users’ faces and quite happily presents them with a pick “bad option A” or “equally bad but different option B” dilemma.

      To not do it for the battery performance degradation scenario is for sales and marketing reasons pure and simple.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        I run two different platforms, an iMac desktop 64 bit that I grudgingly update after some decent debuggification interval and a Dell desktop 32 bit that was an XP machine. Since Microsoft dropped XP support, the second machine was on the way to being more of a time capsule. My temporary solution was to add a Linux partition, although the 32 bit architecture means that I have a sunset on that side, too.

        Good thing I have had time to waste on all the software hassles as I could’ve spent that on hold sorting out medical coverage and other issues. Oh, Wait.

        I miss the old days, when Jobs was still around. One of his quotes stuck with me (paraphrasing): If there is a problem with the [family blog] interface, it is not the user’s fault. Too bad that passion seems to have left the building.

  10. Foppe

    The big question: where does planned obsolescence — which has been a thing for decades in most (other) industries, and is becoming more important to the software industries as feature sets mature and low-hanging fruit when it comes to UX improvements is plucked — meet crapification?

    1. Lambert Strether

      This seems different to me from “planned obsolesence,” though it might take a professional ethicist to draw the right distinction.

      I see “planned obsolesence” as a hardware thing: Ensuring, for example, that screens are specified to fail only after the warranty runs out.

      That’s different from writing the screen driver so that, when the screen is X years old, it starts flickering and showing waves, when if the screen driver software hadn’t been written as it was, the screen would have been fine and lasted another several years.

    2. DJG

      Foppe and Lambert Strether: “Planned obsolescence.” Hmmmm. Another question here is designing products that just aren’t as durable. I’m not sure if that is the same as planned obsolescence. I’m reminded of a discussion I had with a repairman from the appliance store about why my mother’s Maytag lasted for 30 years and through loads of diapers for four kids and my Frigidaire crapped out after five or so years.

      I am not sure if that is planned obsolescence so much as bad design. And Lambert’s comment then makes me wonder if bad design is now built in or if bad design is a sign of bad management and bad manufacturing practices.

      Also, the question on this thread, particularly as Yves Smith puts it, is repairing a device (or appliance) that one has spent a fair chunk of change on. Like Yves Smith, I tend to buy fairly dumb phones. I have two Nokia phones, in particular, because my personal Nokia is more compatible in Europe, where Nokia is still more of a presence. I don’t acccept updates.

      With regard to bad management and bad design, I will note that my newest Nokia cost me 89 dollars. It was a model that had been superseded. The difference with the newest model? The newer model had a more powerful camera. That’s it. It was priced at something like 489 dollars.

      And: With regard to MacBook Pro and keeping it alive–the issue of repairability–all I can say is that mine is about eight years old, that I have a great roving Mac tech guy who lives in my neighborhood, that I have had to replace the battery, and (two weeks ago) the hard drive. Yet my tech guy also wouldn’t upgrade me to High Sierra. I remain at something like Snow Leopard Plus (OS X). He doesn’t recommend High Sierra.

      He also isn’t a fan of the newest Macs, which lack a CD port / drive, among other things.

      Inability to repair is part of crapification. Bad design of the new Macs reminds me of Cadillac’s obsession with fins on its cars. And who in their right mind buys a Cadillac?

  11. funemployed

    The shopping aspect can be kind of a pain for an individual, but I’m no techie, and I always buy business class pc’s – the kind heads of IT order by the hundreds and thousands. My current Toshiba laptop is 4+ years old. It weighs under 3 pounds, I still get 6-8 hours of battery life, lightening quick load times, I’ve never needed an extra dongle to connect it to any a/v or storage device, and have never had anything resembling an annoying problem. I’ve also dropped it, knocked it around, crushed it, spilled stuff on it, etc. Oh yeah, it only cost a bit more than a grand – about 500 less than toshiba’s consumer version with the same specs.

    The drawbacks? Well, the speakers are crappy, it’s not a touchscreen, and it doesn’t run lots of annoying background crap to “improve my user experience.”

    It’s no accident that these are intentionally difficult to shop for if you aren’t a company with a sales rep, as they are better, longer lasting, cleaner, cheaper, and much more durable in my experience.

    1. funemployed

      I also find it interesting that Apple, even during the heyday of the great Jobs, barely managed to scratch the surface of the commercial market. It’s a rather large one, after all, and aren’t they supposed to be the best engineers evah? Low per-unit profit margins and total lack of sexiness, I suppose.

      1. JBird

        It’s from when Microsoft unlike Apple licensed other companies to make their own versions of PCs whereas Apple insisted that they make their desktops in-house. One company got tons of product out and one…didn’t. They also got rid of Jobs. It was only when the company was just about to effectively go bankrupt that the board unfired Jobs. Problem is that Microsoft had about a decade of almost complete freedom to expand and Apple spent that time on its deathbed.

        And believe me when I say that PCs were garbage compared to Macintosh before 2000.

  12. southern appalachian

    I was thinking the smartphone market is saturated so upgrades are more or less all they’ve got for sales growth/subsequent valuation. Apparently there’s isn’t much internal confidence in their ability to compete with innovative features or disruptive product, however it’s phrased. Into the generic drug phase, as an imprecise analogy.

  13. Skip Intro

    The nagging about icloud is part of the crapification process, IMHO. If you were nagged to buy a new battery, that would be another annoyance and the complaints would be just as loud about Apple threatening you with decreased performance if you didn’t buy a new battery exclusively through them, installed only by their franchisees.

    The real problem is that battery life is the limiting factor on mobile phones, and Apple has chosen to make the replacement of iPhone batteries very difficult, probably to shave off a couple millimeters of thickness and a percent or so decreased reliability.

    Note that I didn’t say they can’t notify, just that they chose not to, which I find consistent with their long-term design philosophy. Bringing up their abuse of their users’ attention to flog their icloud service/trap does not undermine my argument, it just shows that they are subordinating their design to their business interests in this area. It is not obvious to me whether the performance nudge or the notification nag would be more predatory, or better business for Apple. The notification to replace the battery could also alert people to the need to get a new phone, when they would otherwise have been blissfully unaware of any slowdown, unless they ran benchmarks regularly.

    Finally, the speed side of the trade off includes reliability hits and possible damage to the device, so I maintain my assertion that it would be irrational for a phone owner to chose the fast but flaky and possibly fatal option.

  14. Applicrappification

    The iphone i use for work has performed worse lately since the lat time i upgraded (a couple of months ago). There are constant delays for every action. Things that went fast and smooth previously now takes more time and most often i have the problem of redialling the wrong number after a phone call because of the delay in reordering the phone call list

    Suspect it is by design to change to the crappy new one. The company offered the latest but it was so useless i kept the old one on top of it it broke at the first drop

  15. david lamy

    I fall into the Apple is pulling a fast one camp.
    My experience with Apple is constrained to laptops, not iPhones, but to me each MacOS upgrade is so badly conceived that it is best to let others take the plunge before I risk doing the same.
    I am probably not a typical Apple user in that most of my computers use Linux or BSD and therefore my most used application is Terminal.
    My last Apple purchase (and it will be my last!) was a Fall 2016 MacBook which I bought for its light weight and beautiful display. Since I do not follow Apple Fan Boy sites regularly I was not prepared for the first OS update to destroy the battery life remaining feature. Thanks Apple! The benefit of that update was to make the MacBook Pro owners with the battery exhausting Touch Bar blissfully unaware of their rapidly diminishing battery charge. Note, I have a MacBook not a MacBook Pro. Why did my functionality get sacrificed as well?
    As soon as I find a GNU system that will run on my MacBook hardware, hasta la vista MacOs even if battery life take a bit of a hit.

      1. david lamy

        Thanks, I’ll take a look — but I’m not exactly a rookie at this. I have a 7 year old macbook pro (mbp) that runs on Debian exclusively and a 4 year old mbp that dual boots between OSX (which in my opinion is better than MacOS) and Fedora.

        The problem is getting all the features such as keyboard backlighting, video acceleration, networking and such working without borrowing proprietary binary blobs.

        I really despise MacOS so my confidence level has to be high that the hardware will perform suitably under a fairly free GNU/Linux distribution because dual booting is no longer desirable. That’s free as in freedom, not free as in a comped drink. I avoided Ubuntu in the past because of its desire to log your online searches and file activity unless you went though a not intuitive process to turn those features off.

  16. Whoa Molly!

    Yeah, I noticed my iphone 5 and 6 both slowing down starting about 12 months ago. Now I know why.

  17. pictboy3

    Mac desktops have been overpriced junk for almost 2 decades. I don’t know how much your computer budget is, but you could likely go on newegg and order all the parts for a PC that would cost half the price of a mac desktop and be better in pretty much every way. I assemble all my desktops myself these days, and I’m not a techie. It’s like assembling IKEA furniture. And even if you’re not confident in your ability to do it, I’m sure you can find a computer repair shop that would be willing to do it for you. There’s a guy in my home town that does just this.

    Get a PC and put Linux on it, you won’t look back.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, see Clive’s comment above on Office. If you need to use Word or Excel, you are stuck with Apple or Microsoft. I had the same problem when I was on a NeXT (which used WordPerfect, which was terrific back in the day, and Improv, a spreadsheet vastly superior to Excel). There was a bit more tolerance then for not being Word/Office compatible because even on PCs, there would sometimes be interoperability issues.

  18. Arizona Slim

    As mentioned previously, I am a member of a coworking space in Tucson.

    After I joined, and that was back in July 2015, I noticed that I was one of the few laptoppers who wasn’t using one of those oh-so-cool silver Macs. I was a PC user. (Gasp!)

    Then, over time, I noticed something interesting. My fellow coworkers started using a more diverse array of machines. I can now say that those silver Macs are no longer in the majority.

    I recently replaced the PC laptop with a System 76 that runs Ubuntu like a charm. I’m quite happy with it.

    I’m also delighted with the help that one of my coworkers keeps offering EVERY time he walks by my desk. He helped me spec the machine, and, quite frankly, I don’t need his help. But I appreciate the offer.

  19. Antoine LeBear

    This is a very very big deal. First, let me say I’m a software developer by trade and old enough to have had a rotary phone, and finally that I own an iPhone since the 3, ugrading every other version (and I maintain a fleet of iPhones for the family).
    Upgrading to the next major iOS (iPhone OS back then) was always a risky proposition, because you could incur performance degradation. There have always been endless threads on forums about the slugginess or not of a software version applied to a particular hardware version. I usually waited 1-2 months before the dust settled to wait for the consensus on the tradeoff of upgrading : features vs performance. We always thought it was because Apple added some CPU-demanding eye-candy to the latest version, and Apple seemed to imply this by removing some features for older phones (as in some features of the new OS would not be available to older phones).
    But we were always confident that we could upgrade if we kept the same major version. Version numbers are usually of the form X.Y.Z (for example iOS latest is 11.2.1), X being the major version number, Y the minor and Z the patch level. Developers are supposed (and Apple usually follows that practice) to introduce major features only in major version numbers. The minor version are for refinements of features, and the latest number is upgraded every time you issue a new version to patch some bugs. So you always want to be a the top of your major version to have all the bugs patched and the features ironed out. But maybe you do not want to jump to the next major version because it sucks on your hardware.
    But the throttling feature was introduced in iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0, so a minor version for the people having the latest and greatest of iOS, and in a bug-patching level of the old OS that is the OS of people that did not think the features of new phones were worth the performance hit.
    Apple have never introduced a feature (if you believe their PR saying it’s a feature) to old iOSes. And it did so stealthily via an update promising the user to patch some bugs. But even with iOS 11, it did so in a minor version, without advertising it in the release notes. That’s a big no-no in software development.
    Finally, let me say that I own an iPhone 6, but one that was replaced because my stepdad broke the screen by accident. So it’s almost new, it’s 9 months old. I upgraded to iOS 11 after waiting to check the performance would not suffer too much and indeed it was fine. Until iOS 11.2. No issue with phones shutting down, and my battery would last 3/4th of a day as is customary with iPhones older than 6 months. So I was fine until the version that brought the throttling.
    My money is on this scenario: there was a bug affecting a tiny slice of old iPhones shutting down, some dev fixed it by throttling the CPU, and a clever higher-up decided to apply the fix to every iPhone, thinking the cool side-effect of gearing people up to upgrade would make a fat nice bonus for him.
    Apple broke the dev conventions by bringing an important feature via a minor (or patch-level! It’s really evil in the software world!) version, and failed to communicate on it or even put an option (on by default, even) in the settings. Or having a pop-up asking if I wanted to reduce performance after an unexpected reboot.
    Apple just lost a lot of trust: we now can have a patch-level version that will affect the performance of our hardware (even on old OSes!), and we now know they will try everything to force us to upgrade. And that maybe they did it in the past too.

  20. Charlie Evett

    This is not planned obsolescence or “crapification”. That the battery wears out over time is just a fact of life, and limiting the peak performance to prevent shutdowns is a perfectly fine engineering decision. Using a software benchmarking program to analyze the performance is interesting, but doesn’t do much to quantify the actual performance a user would experience using the phone. To get a real sense of the effect of the slow downs here we need more than benchmarks, we need real-world application tests.
    Applications on the phone appear to run more slowly over time for a variety of reasons, as the engineers implementing them tend to expect the devices to have more memory, faster processors, etc. so they tend to add more features, many of them not easily observable, that suck up resources.
    Sure you could make the battery and everything else easy to service. That would make the phone larger, heavier, and more expensive. No one is going to buy those big clunky $$$ phones.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      See the comment right above you. Were you paid to defend what Antoine LeBear described in clear prose as a major ethical violation by Apple in terms of coding conventions?

  21. JCC

    I have a like/dislike relationship with Apple Computer products. I own a laptop which I bought used and I’m happy with it, but that is because I knew exactly what I wanted at the price I was willing to pay, and I live close enough to a large Metro area (2 hours from L.A.) so it only took a month or so to find exactly what I was looking for: 15″, replaceable battery, 16Gb RAM, normal Apple keyboard and built-in CD/DVD drive at $600 or less. Even if I was willing to spend well over $2000.00 for an equivalent “latest and greatest”, which I am not, Apple doesn’t make any equivalent anymore. That’s the part of Apple I don’t like but I’m sure they wouldn’t care anyway since I am not the type to spend that ridiculous amount of money for a personal computer/laptop. I did once, but that was many many years ago for a loaded IBM system, printer and monitor when first entering the Professional IT world (late eighties).

    Also, Apple computers at home are not my primary systems. I’m a die-hard Linux user and that is my primary OS on both laptops, desktops, and servers at both work and home. The Apple is for vacation camping/travels as an all-in-one entertainment/communications system and used for little else (and maintainable without shipping it off to Apple :-). I also own a mac mini that I haven’t turned on in months since my Linux server does a far faster, better, and more secure job at home.

    As far as commercial use of Apples at work, I’m involved with some Sys Admin in that arena and I think they have degraded a lot over the last 5 years. Mac Minis have not advanced one iota, no more Xservers or XSANs, and their desktops, although still as powerful as ever, are also as expensive as ever. A typical purchase for a single Desktop system in our environment is well over $8K to $10K before internal setup/maintenance costs. Their laptops aren’t cheap either since we need to buy them fully loaded since they are no longer upgradeable, and are more difficult to maintain while meeting security requirements than Microsoft products (believe it or not!) and they don’t last very long… 2 years is typical. They have also abandoned some of their media software which is the reason we use them in the first place.

    I won’t go into the problems with IOS integration or their XCode base, the reviews on Apple’s site are plentiful enough and not flattering.

    My Toshiba laptop used at work, seven years old with one of the first ssd drives available, runs a Redhat based system, upgrades when necessary with zero issues, a dream to maintain regarding security requirements, and is just as fast as the day it was purchased, i.e., fast fast fast.

    I would never consider buying an iPhone, ever. In fact I finally broke down and bought my first “smart” phone about 6 months ago and, other than the camera and easier texting, is no better or used more often than my old dumb phone. I find the spending of $700 to $1000 for an iPhone to be borderline foolish (if not outright sinful and I’m not a religious person :-)

    All in all I’ve seen a degradation of the Apple product from both a professional and personal point of view that no longer justifies their premium pricing. Unlike 5 to 15 years ago, I no longer recommend the purchase of Apple products to anyone, unless they are comfortable with older used equipment.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Mine too. But I will confess that I bought a gamer’s laptop, not because I play games but due to that lovely visual display.

      1. david lamy

        Install powertop, it’s like top only it shows the power consumption of each running process in the Overview screen. You can hit Tab to cycle through Overview, Idle Stats, Device Stats, Frequency Stats and lastly Tunable.

        Tunable will list a series of kernel parameters that you can adjust to improve battery life. It’s easy as it lists ones that are bad first. Scroll to the first bad one and hit return and powertop substitutes a more power efficient parameter. Scroll to the next, hit return and rinse, wash and repeat …

        Your battery life should show improvement if you are not running this program in Super User mode.

        So, $ sudo powertop, ($ is your shell prompt) in a terminal. Intel contributed this program under a BSD license. I recommend it highly. $ sudo apt-get install powertop , will install this program for you.

  22. Mike

    For many reasons – price, security, languor – I have refused to purchase “smart phones” of any type or brand. Have a multi-purpose cell phone of early vintage and only use the phone features, and rarely at that. Do own an Apple iMac and Air laptop, and wife has an iPad. All upgrades of recent Sierra/iOS mold have introduced bugginess, slow starts, enforced Cloud use, and a host of changes that lead anyone to know with certainty that sales of new units are the push behind the crippling of the old.

    Hardware has always been the bulk of Apple sales, and their software has always left room for third-party substitutes or enhancements. Obviously, this has been planned as Apple’s deal with their development community since Steve Jobs was in his garage. It churns the market and makes money for all concerned, except the customer. Given all that, recent events show that passion and quality have given way to Apple’s consideration of the 3 things I mentioned above – price, security, languor. That is, higher price, lower security, and plenty of languor. PR has gone into overdrive to cover posteriors of officers (p.o.o) when confronted.

    I have loaded two versions of Linux onto flash drives to test features – Elementary OS and Ubuntu 17.1 – and hope to use them on an old iMac to see how applications behave and substitute for some Mac items, mostly in music and wife’s photos. It will take a learning curve I anticipate with horror (was a beta-tester for Macs decades ago, but old, and wife is reticent to learn any of this BS), but the computer age has passed me by with 3-D and other “features” that can’t do, and often interfere with, the basic tasks I need.

  23. JP

    I am a working composer and musician, have been since the Johnson administration. I was an early adapter to music software in the mid 80’s working a Commodore 64 (I wish computers still had names like “Commodore 64″) from 5 1/4” floppies. I never went the Apple route because working musician pay. But when I made a little dough in the early aughts, I caved and bought a Ti book, just like the big boys and girls. 2 hard drives and something else I can’t remember failed in the 1st year. I then wisely NOT doubled down on a G4 tower. More failure. Live and learn, and have been back on Windows since. And I use an Android phone and tablet.

    However, in the last 5 years some incredible music apps have been coded for IOS. I waited for them to be ported to Android, but it never happened, and I wanted to use these apps (Animoog and Model 15 from Moog, Borderlands Granular and Samplr), so with a heavy heart I returned to the dark side. Fortunately, Apple decided to make a $250 (on sale) ipad, and I went there. I have tried to dump the software that came with it. But when OS 11 came in, I woke up to find I had been “upgraded”. Then I began reading all sorts of good stories, especially here, my go-to, 1st thing in the munin’ feed. Sigh. Why do I feel like I am one step away from a shiny plastic brick?

  24. Steve Ruis

    As both a long-time Apple and PC user, I think Apple has ridden its “user friendly” scam a bit too far. Their view of “user friendly” is user inaccessible. All of the iPods and other devices that had irreplaceable batteries or required expensive service were spun as “never requiring user service,” while the “open architecture” PCs required one to open the hood and yank a component and replace it, which created quite a secondary market in components that could be used to repair or upgrade one’s box.

    I stopped being an Apple fan when my Apple Power Mac G5 (the most powerful Motorola chipped, water cooled computer in history), blew its power supply. Apple wouldn’t accept it for repair (too old), parts were not available (I could have done it myself), and Apple had just transferred from Motorola chips to Intel chips and the new models would not run the older software (even in emulation–they could emulate PC software to run on the new Macs, but not the old Mac software)). Since I had over $15,000 invested in software and another $2500 was needed for a new Mac, I ordered a refurbished old Mac and was up and running three days later. But, I was planning to switch to a PC platform from that moment on, which I have since effected.

    If they really cared about their customers, at least as much as their sales, their behavior would be vastly different.

    1. Altandmain

      Steve, I don’t think that Apple cares about your business that much.

      I have known people who are in the professional market who wanted a real successor to the Mac Pro for quite some time.

      – Apple did not update the Mac Pro for a while
      – When they did, they updated it with a “trashcan’ design that was very difficult to upgrade (and in most areas impossible)
      – Due to negative feedback, they’ve recently revamped it with what looks like a beefed up iMac

      The problem is that professional users need an upgradeable workstation – with opportunities to swap in new GPUs, NVMe SSDs, upgrade the CPU, etc.

      The RAM is upgradeable, but only by Apple:

      For a professional system, this is ridiculous. They don’t care about their customers and their pro-customers even less. There are some people who have told me that they, despite stability issues, had better experiences with Hackintoshes because they had the hardware that they needed.

  25. Altandmain

    There is an easy solution – require that all phones and laptops be sold with user replaceable batteries.

    This would allow third parties and Apple itself to provide inexpensive batteries. It also allows for the use of extended batteries, which I use extensively on my Android phones.

    Over time, lithium ion batteries tend to lose their charge and the higher the temperature, the faster this process occurs. It’s basically a built in planned obsolescence system. It forces an upgrade because usually it is expensive and difficult to upgrade.

    Often if you are interested, iFixIt does tear-downs of phones and assigns repairability scores. They do it for the most popular devices. I also go onto XDA Developers for Android phones to see what phones are compatible with custom ROMs because Android phone manufacturers are so awful at upgrading their phones to the latest version of Android.

    Come to think of it, at least 3 years of updates should be a law as well.

  26. Jeffrey Kegler

    Yves — I will look forward to your insights on Linux. Allow me to recommend Debian stable.

    I made the Apple-to-Linux switchover in 2015, because by then it was clear that forced obsolescence would be Apple’s policy.

    My own switchover was easy because I’ve been a UNIX user since 1977 (yes before the 1st commercial release) so using Linux was like coming back home. Linux/Debian is wonderful but I’ve hesitated to recommend it to non-professionals because, while in theory the desktop is as user-friendly as Windows/MacOS, the practice has been slow to catch up. But, hopefully, it has made it by now.

  27. Jim Haygood

    Apple management just doesn’t seem to care anymore.

    Palatial new headquarters are an unfailing tell that management has become more interested in feathering their own nest than in serving their customers or shareholders.

    Apple reportedly spent as much as $5 billion on their silver spaceship in Cupertino. It incorporates costly fetishes such as Steve Jobs’ insistence on “no visible seams,” and enormous, multi-story curved-glass doors.

    Most tellingly, Apple even diverted their ace designer Jony Ive to work on the new building for a couple of years, instead of designing products. This is managerial malpractice of the highest order on the part of Tim Crook.

    No company which became No. 1 in market cap has ever stayed on top. Apple has reached its sell-by date.

    Go ahead, bite the big Apple
    Don’t mind the maggots!

    — Rolling Stones, Shattered

  28. oh

    I notice that there are quite a few Apple Fanbois here, much like Obamabots who think that they should defend a product’s flaws just because they bought it. I think Linux users are more sophisticated and know more than how to click a mouse!

  29. Whoa Molly!

    I started buying used “returned from lease” Dell laptops a few years ago. That way I get a pro corporate system about two years after it was new. I chose a vendor that sells machines with clean Win 10 pro OS installs, then added big SSD second drive. The whole system with second home-installed SSD runs me about $700. This is cheap enough for my business that I can easily replace them when they fail in 3-4 years. Usually the keyboard dies. And the corporate systems have all sorts of IO ports. Lately I am buying systems without CD drive. I use an external CD writer when I need one.

    I love the look and feel of Macbook Pro but Apples history of dumping its customers by suddenly abandoning sofyware and hardware scares me. I remember a film maker friend losing months of work when Apple abruptly dumbed down the pro level film editing program he was using. From my limited experience I agree that it looks like Apple has no interest in pro users.

    On top of all that nonsense, my guess is that it would cost me a minimum of $3500 to duplicate the $700 funcions of my used laptop.

    Maybe when I win the lottery I will plunk down $11,000 or so for hardware and software to replace the clunky Dell logo on my laptop with a glowing sylish Apple logo and thus become a Cool Apple Guy. Until then its dispsable $700 commodity laptops.

    /rant end

    1. Octopii

      Funny, the first Dell I bought myself, an XPS-13, died after a little over a year. Motherboard, just out of warranty. I got 4-6 years out of my last three MacBook Pros. To each his own anecdote.

    2. thoughtful person

      I’ve been doing that with hp elitebooks. Going to go to ifixit and check out the ratings. Replaceable parts are a great thing!

      Thanks for the thoughts everyone! (except for the kneejerk applebots)

  30. Oregoncharles

    ” despite a quarter-trillion dollars in the bank Apple has repeatedly failed to do anything interesting in about five years….” “Despite”??!!!!

    That’s “because of.”

    Seriously: this is the law of diminishing returns at work.

  31. Lord Koos

    The OS 11 upgrade certainly is no picnic on my old iphone 5s. Can’t someone mass-produce phones that run Linux?

    1. JCC

      Here’s a start:


      I have an older nexus tablet that is now as slow as molasses in January even though it is still fully functional with a brand new battery. I may give one of these a try.

      As others have noted above, completely switching over to Linux based systems takes some sys administration knowledge and many do not have the time to learn some of these skills. I switched from MS to Linux almost completely back in 1998 when Windows 98 crashed my brand new desktop 2 or 3 times a week and recovery often took hours. But I had computer systems experience and a desire to learn UNIX and basic networking on my own time due to upcoming, inevitable, layoffs I saw coming relative to the manufacturing/Machine Tool businesses I worked in at that time. I have never once had a good reason to look back, not to mention that I have probably saved a few thousand dollars, at least, in software and hardware purchases (and tripled my personal income due to the fact that I never believed that open-source software was the failed paradigm touted by MS and Apple and others at that time – it was an obvious no-brain winner).

      Today I primarily run Fedora at home, Redhat’s beta platform, and Redhat/CentOS at work (DoD Military – which is embracing Linux based OS systems, particularly Redhat, at a surprising rate nowadays, especially security monitoring systems, cyber-defense systems, and software development platforms). It does everything I need to do and much more, but it’s a learning curve that many do not have the time to invest in, although the improvements within that aspect have been tremendous over the last few years.

      One reason, a primary reason, that I switched is that it is very, very secure. When I need windows-only tools I have a virtual Windows 7 system running on my Fedora Server. It’s fast and secure sitting “behind” a rock solid Linux iptables firewall.

      But there are easier distros to run for the average user, Ubuntu and Mint (both debian based) being two of the better known examples, as well as CentOS (Redhat based). All three of these run well on Apple hardware, so don’t get rid of that older Apple laptop :-)

      If I could teach my 68 year old mother to run one 10 years ago for basics like email and browser use, someone who never operated a computer in her life prior to this, then anyone can do it.

      For those willing to take the plunge, documentation and training nowadays is top-notch, commonly available, and usually free on the ‘net as well as supplied with the Operating Systems Distributions themselves, something that can no longer be said of either Apple OS X or MS Windows.

  32. Carey

    The Macs I’ve owned have steadily gotten worse since the Powerbook 1400 with OS 8.1. I now have a several
    year old Macbook 2.13 with OS 10.9 with maxed memory, and quite roundly hate the thing. For a turn-key thing to replace it… maybe this Linux Mint OS?

  33. Tim

    I still have an Ipad 1 that works. It crashes a lot on web pages and is kinda slow, and obsolete for any apps made in the last few years due to being left behind at OS6.

    Still, I’m surprised some Apple employees haven’t showed up at my door grabbed it and smashed it on the concrete to make sure I move on.

  34. adrena

    After 6 years I finally left Apple. Got myself a OnePlus T 5. Love it. The switch is easy. Saved myself $1000 (Canadian).

  35. Octopii

    Much ado about nothing. Batteries age. Lithium Ion batteries are killed by a complete discharge. It’s a good feature to slow down the device to save power when the battery is low, and to shut off the device before the battery is completely flat. Again, batteries age. Don’t like it? Take your phone to an ifixit place and have them replace the battery. It’s not user-replaceable but it is replaceable.

    1. Octopii

      Oh, and if someone wants to call me a troll or shill or whatever, I’m an EE and a former hardware engineer.

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