Is it time to replace your iPhone’s battery?

Has your old phone become frustratingly laggy? It might be time for an expensive upgrade… but is there another option?

My iPhone’s been really struggling lately: apps take a noticeable time to open and often crash, it’s laggy when I’m typing and taking spur of the moment photos just isn’t possible anymore (having to hang around for 5 or 6 seconds for the camera to start working).

I’d been aware for some time that I really needed to upgrade my phone, which I bought in 2015, but had been putting it off: nearly £1,000 for a new iPhone seemed a horrendous price to pay (I always buy my phone outright and get a pay-as-you-go contract).

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So I struggled on with my four-year-old phone, convincing myself that slightly longer load times and an inability to take photos were a small trade off for what was basically a functional phone.

Power problem

Then one day looking through settings, I came across information on my phone’s battery, and this message:

‘This iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery was unable to delvier the necessary peak power. Performance management has been applied to prevent this from happening again.’

With a bit more research I worked out what ‘performance management’ meant: my phone’s processing power was being limited by the operating system because my battery was degraded.

Although I’d had the phone since 2015, it hadn’t occurred to me that the battery might be affecting performance – I didn’t know it could.

But in fact it turns out that Apple deliberately slows processing speeds in older phones to prevent iPhones from randomly shutting down due to lack of juice.

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This makes sense, but it wasn’t ever exactly made clear to me that the phone had been locked at a lower processing speed: I’d thought my phone was obsolete rather than just limited.

Apple juice

With this knowledge in mind, I realised I had a new option open to me (beyond splashing out a grand on a new phone): I could simply get my current phone’s battery replaced. So that’s what I did.

I booked my phone into a third party repair centre near where I work the next day for a battery replacement. It was cheap and hassle free – costing £35 for parts and labour and taking a couple of hours.

The only slightly laborious thing was I had to backup my phone before and restore it afterwards – they wipe the memory when repairing it (but you have to go through this process with a new phone as well) .

And is the phone running at a higher performance now? Yes, significantly. Opening and switching between apps is almost instantaneous again and there have been no crashes: not bad for a four-year-old phone.

Repair, recycle, reuse

My regret is that Apple never made it clear to me that my phone had been limited and that getting a battery replacement was necessary to ‘unlock’ the processing power I’d lost.

Apple confirmed in 2017 that for a year they’d been slowing iPhones in order to ‘smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.’

As far as I remember, this news was never passed on to me – and in my opinion it probably should have been.

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But it makes sense from their perspective I suppose – Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said that the company’s sales of new phones had been affected by ‘some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.’

So it looks like other people are getting their iPhones repaired rather than buying new ones, which can only be a good thing in terms of sustainability – and avoiding unnecessary new purchases.

But what do you think? How old is your mobile phone – does it still work well for you? Will you be getting your iPhone repaired after reading this?

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