iPhone Users Can Disable Slowdowns

Apple says users will soon be able to block slowdowns on older iPhones. However, it’s still warning against the move.

The announcement came from Tim Cook in an interview with ABC. Among other issues he discussed Apple’s acknowledgement late last year that it was indeed slowing down some older models but not – as was widely speculated – as part of a scheme to make upgrades seem more appealing.

Instead Apple said it was to avoid a problem in older phones where aging batteries had insufficient voltage to cope with sudden spikes in demand by the processor and would simply shut down without warning.

The company had already dropped the cost of replacement batteries and begun work on a software update that will improve the settings menus to show more detail about the health of their battery. The information will also say whether or not the phone has been slowed down (suggesting the ‘throttling’ is applied based on the actual battery status rather than simply by the model number or operating system version.)

Cook specifically confirmed for the first time that there’ll also be a user option to disable the slowdown. He added that “we don’t recommend it because we think people’s iPhones are really important to them and you can never tell when something is so urgent.”

That suggests Apple may need to be very clear in the wording of any warning messages before users disable the slowdown. That will be necessary to counter any speculative lawsuits if phones shut down and customers either lose data or are temporarily unable to make calls in an emergency situation. The logic there will be that if only Apple is proven to know about the risk of a shutdown, it could be on the hook; if Apple can prove the customer knew as well, that makes it the customer’s responsibility.

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