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Apple, the iPhone and the BatteryGate

Apple

Apple is the most valuable company in the world. Phones are supposed to last three to four years, so how does Apple become a Trillion Dollar company from selling phones? Well, by tricking you into buying a new one.

Do I need a new iPhone XYZ MAX 2TB when my old Apple device still works?

Let’s side-track for a second. In the tech world, getting users to upgrade is a nightmare. As long as a product or service works, people will rarely ever be inclined to buy a new one. Why try to replace something that’s working fine?

This problem is faced by everyone from hardware manufacturers to software developers. Even when updates are free (Google’s Android Operating system), people simply will not upgrade.

Samsung and other Android makers have simply taken to just stopping providing updates to phones older than two years. As some applications stop working (WhatsApp with the Nokia Asha phones for example), you simply are forced to buy a new phone. If you previously owned a Samsung, chances are you will buy another Samsung. And the Samsung execs can buy new Mercedes Benz G-Wagons and have enough to spare for a new yacht.

Apple laughs and says hold my beer

Apple upped the ante by releasing software updates that throttled CPU (Central Processing Unit) performance on older phones. The CPU is the brain of the phone, and if it is slow, everything else becomes sluggish. Imagine clicking the WhatsApp icon, going off to make a cup of tea while it loads, then coming back to check out people’s statuses. Well, that may be an exaggeration but you get the idea.

The CPU uses battery power, and the harder it works, the faster your phone battery runs dry. So between 2014 and 2016 Apple would simply do the following:

  1. Release a new iPhone which looks exactly like the previous one.
  2. Make changes to the iOS software that runs on the phone such that your favourite apps stop working.
  3. This forces you to update your old iPhone to the latest iOS version.
  4. Once you update, your battery’s life-span is halved and the logical step is to take it to the Apple Store for the techs to check it out.
  5. At the Apple Store, the Apple employees will push you to just trade it in and get the latest iPhone.

A Trillion Dollar Company fined US$113 Million

Imagine you defraud people all over the world and make over $300 Billion. When you get caught, you are asked to give back a measly $100 million. People wised up to Apple’s chicanery and several lawsuits were filed successfully in America. The company sold over 600 million units in the period between 2014 and 2016. If we place the value of each iPhone at $500, we get over $300 Billion made from over-priced plastic bricks.

Well, the company was asked to pay a fine of $113 million which would be shared among users in America only. Serves you right for buying that iPhone from Africa! Each iPhone owner is getting just $25 from this, after spending hundreds of dollars on the gadget in the first place. Apple wins.

The fix that works somehow, sometimes

iOS 11.3 was released in 2018 and with it a feature to disable battery throttling. From what we understood, when your phone shuts down due to this battery throttling issue, Low Power Mode is enabled. You can turn it off if you so wish. Once turned off however, it cannot be turned back on until you experience another power related phone shutdown. In other words, you are not in control, Apple is.

It seems big tech will continue getting away with manipulating human beings into spending more money on questionable products. The law simply gives them a slap on the wrist and they get back to adding more zeros to their bank accounts.


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