In early January, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, called upon Apple to answer for the lack of transparency it showed surrounding its slow-down practices for aging iPhones. Today, Thune’s office released Apple’s response: a five-page letter in which Apple reiterates the slow-down saga. While the letter contains little new information, Apple does touch upon how it may handle customers who already paid full price for battery replacements. The company also hinted at how newer iPhone models will deal with aging battery issues, but Apple did so in a way that doesn’t instill confidence that it will, in fact, be more transparent with its practices in the future.
In the letter dated February 2, 2018, Apple explains how the lithium-ion batteries found in its iPhones age over time and become less able to handle high workloads. To avoid unexpected shutdowns caused by these aging batteries, Apple issued a software update that we now know included a feature that deliberately slowed down the performance of older iPhones to prevent such shutdowns.
Apple addressed transparency only by noting that its updated iOS 10.2.1 ReadMe notes included mention of the power management feature and that it issued a statement to press outlets about seeing “positive results” from the software update.