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What Apple's Battery Health 'Fix' Looks Like ( 69

Apple has released new battery health features in iOS 11.3 beta 2, which was seeded to developers today. BGR reports what those battery health functions look like, and how to disable power management if you're using an older iPhone: The feature is contained within a new "Battery Health" menu, which is under the "Battery" tab on iOS 11.3. The page only really has two fields: Maximum Capacity, which shows what percentage of the original charge your battery can still hold; and Peak Performance Capacity, which tells you if your phone's performance is being throttled due to the battery. Right now, there are no options to change anything within the menu. Maximum Capacity should be at 100% for newer phones, and it should fall down to around 80% over the course of about two years of normal use. A Redditor on the iOSBeta forum uploaded a photo of his iPhone 7, which is sitting at 87% capacity. That device still shows peak performance.

On older devices with a worse battery, the phone will show that reduced Maximum Capacity, as well as detail any performance slowdowns due to the decreased battery capacity. On devices that have weaker batteries, the Peak Performance Capability will change to read "This iPhone has experienced an unexpected shutdown because the battery was unable to deliver the necessary peak power. Performance management has been applied to help prevent this from happening again." A small blue hyperlink then says "Disable," which lets you manually turn off your iPhone's performance management.

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What Apple's Battery Health 'Fix' Looks Like

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  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @09:46PM (#56080415) Homepage Journal

    While I don't think it's necessarily right to "hide" it from people, good Li-Ion battery management does unfortunately require monitoring and limiting consumption rate in a lot of circumstances. Lithium batteries work best and can deliver the most current around 35-45C which is great since we tend to keep our phones close to our bodes and thus they stay at a good temperature. But a cold battery, a nearly empty battery, and an old battery all have severely diminished current capacity. Except for overcharging or overdraining a lithium cell, nothing will destroy it faster than pulling too much current than the current environment permits.

    The problem with our phones is that we want them to be as small as reasonable, we want them to work full throttle for the longest amount of time possible, and we want them to be highly reliable. This is sort of a "pick two" scenario because you can't really have all three.

    Tesla cars do a great job of giving the driver feedback about battery current limits BTW; there is a gague that shows you when you are being limited due to temperature or state of charge and as the battery ages the "full" capacity given in "rated miles" does diminish. As an example, an S100D will pull 500+ kW on a 100% full, new, warm battery, but on a very cold day with a low SOC it can be limited to as little as 150kW. Although this is sometimes not what people really want, they also in this case want a battery that will last for as many as 40 or 50 thousand charge cycles. Perhaps phones should figure out a way to give user feedback in the battery icon in a similar way. or allow the suers to set their own limits to optimize battery health.

    Or perhaps phones should just put way bigger batteries in them and only let people cycle them between 20% and 80% true capacity. This would be fantasticlly good for battery health but can you imagine the uproar?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's been many years since I REALLY wanted my phone to be thinner. In fact, the last couple of iterations I think my phone is too thin to comfortably hold. Even after putting a typical case on my phone I think it's too thin. Sure, I can buy a thicker case, but why not just give me a better battery? I struggle to get through a full day without plugging in at some point, and I'm not typically a heavy phone user. I've had several iphones and currently have a Samsung S8. I'd gladly buy a thicker phone with a be

    • >we want them to be as small as reasonable
      I quite agree. But am I alone in thinking that the vast majority have gone well beyond that point? It's a rare phone that wouldn't benefit from being twice the thickness with 3x the battery life. Maybe they could even use that added thickness to include some structural components so the things could take more of a beating.

      I still have my original-model TI-85 from 1992 - it doesn't get as much use anymore, but it took a heck of a beating through 10 years of sch

      • by GoRK ( 10018 )

        I still have my TI-85 purchased in 1992 same as you. While I agree it's very durable and nice and still works it is a bit clunky and it's bigger than it needs to be. Heck there is a lot of empty space inside there- I have had mine apart and modified a number of times (including massively overclocking the z80)

        I do agree with you on the absurd race to produce overly stupidly thin phones. The iPad has a "camera bump" for fucks sake. good design does not automatically guarantee good ergonomics. A slightly beefi

    • by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2018 @02:40AM (#56081705)

      For some perspective:

        - My laptop is a chromebook switched to linux. From 2013.
        - I've used it almost every day.
        - My battery capacity reports: 45.3 Wh (design)
        - It currently reports: 41.3 Wh (when full)
        - Percent difference of ~9.24% over 5 years of constant use

      So why the hell are cellphone batteries dying so much faster? Are they higher density for more initial capacity, at the cost of quicker wear and reduction of capacity? Because if you can lose over 20% of an iPhone battery in two years, that's a pretty stark difference to my laptop.

      I had to replace my Wife's iPhone S5 battery (before this whole craziness) a 1 year ago or so.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Wednesday February 07, 2018 @04:51AM (#56082079)

        So why the hell are cellphone batteries dying so much faster? Are they higher density for more initial capacity, at the cost of quicker wear and reduction of capacity? Because if you can lose over 20% of an iPhone battery in two years, that's a pretty stark difference to my laptop.

        Because simply, your laptop has more batteries.

        Cellphones have one cell, and are often used from full to dead on a daily basis, which is a very hard operating regimen, and basically all the wear happens on that one cell.

        Laptops rarely are operated like that - most sit on the charger all day, and maybe autonomous for a couple of hours, where it may undergo a slight discharge from 100% to say, 60%, then put back on charge. This imposes very little wear on the battery, and even then, laptops use multiple cells, so the wear generally gets distributed over more cells.

        Think of it this way - a Tesla uses the same kind of cells, and basically you expect to get about 10 years of life out of it before it hits around 80% capacity or so. That's because there are thousands of cells and each is carefully managed by the onboard computer. Then after that, you can take those cells and put them in a battery pack and run a house off of them, even at their reduced capacity, they can run a house pretty well. That's because the load a house brings on a battery will be much less than a car, so you may get another 10 years out of those cells before they drop to 40% or so (and you probably won't notice the capacity drop if the battery gets you through the night before the solar array on your roof recharges them)..

        Battery ageing is determined by how hard you run the loads - how fast and nasty you are at charging them - something cellphones do quite aggressively because you can have peak loads of amps coming out and fast chargers don't help that get you to 80% in half an hour. A laptop is used far more gently comparatively speaking, at least since the load is spread out, and the charge current is spread out as well, so the batteries are treated much more gently.

        Electric cars even more so, despite ludicrous mode, the actual load imposed on one individual battery is probably more like it loafing around, and then retirement as a house battery is like pampering it in old age.

        • by antdude ( 79039 )

          What about UPSes like from APC? They don't seem to last long enough and have to be replaced even though rarely used. :(

          • by jiriw ( 444695 )

            Most UPSes use lead gel battery technology (which has sulphuric acid as an electrolyte). An entirely different beast than Lithium ion cells. Lead cells that are used (too) sparingly have sulphate crystal buildup. Those crystals, when they get too big, act as insulators, diminishing the peak power performance of the cells.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          The type of device isn't really relevant, it's how the battery is managed.

          If you only charge to 90% and never below 10%, a lithium ion battery will last much longer. If you keep it close to the ideal temperature, it will last a lot longer.

          For example, some laptop batteries last a very long time because they are kept away from sources of heat and the manufacturer limits them to between 10 and 90% charge. Others might die fairly quickly because they are right next to the laptop's major sources of heat and the

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        My battery capacity reports: 45.3 Wh (design)

        Was that a measurement made when you got it, or what they put in the spec sheet?

        They usually under-rate the battery to preserve it. For example, a 30kWh car will probably only have 28kWh usable. A 3500mAh phone will probably only have 3300mAh usable.

    • My only real complaint about Apple's new model is that they didn't do it from the start. I don't have any issues with them throttling performance to prevent instability, I do have a problem with them throttling performance to hide the fact that batteries are dying early and avoid replacing them under warranty. Now that a user can notice slower performance and see that they're experiencing it because their battery is dying, they can have a conversation with Apple about whether their battery replacement sho
  • ... than a lithium ion battery/cell can deliver? Even if aged?

    the hell?

  • by dohzer ( 867770 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2018 @10:08PM (#56080513) Homepage

    perf_degrade = 0;

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then we'd just see lawsuits saying Apple's phones continuously rebooting made them buy a new phone when all they needed was a new battery.

      Having experienced this in the past (old 3GS turning itself off randomly, often in the middle of calls... it was 3 years old at the time), the new battery health tools look like a vast improvement... now I'll know exactly what the problem is instead of having to guess.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somewhat irrelevant to the story, but I just wanted to point out how shitty flat UI design has gotten if we're actually at the point where we're confusing clickable "buttons" (which is what borderless coloured text often denotes in iOS) with hyperlinks.

    It's clear the author doesn't know what to call said text- it's a button without a border after all, so they're reaching for terms that apply, even though hyperlink is a web term. This should not be happening with offline software. If it's something you can p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Their $29 scam is a scam since they don't do it, but only announced it to get out from under several class action lawsuits. They refused to replace my battery since I have a small chip in the glass. A coworker took the six 6S and 6S Plus iPhones we have for testing into a store, and Apple found excuses to deny a battery replacement, even at the full price, for all of them. It sucks that all of our newer iPhones suddenly drop from around 50% battery to 1% in just a matter of a few minutes.

  • I was recently in at -20 degrees Celsius in the Swiss Alps, and my old iPhone would die unexpectedly during use (or, the battery would drop 50% for five minutes of use). However, having since come back to Australia, I don't want my phone to throttle based on the one week a year I spend skiing - the system should permit more customisation than either just "on or off".
  • Don't the batteries naturally lose maximum output as they discharge? If a phone can't handle maximum performance anymore when it can't hold as much charge, how did it do it before as the charge went down ?
    • how did it do it before

      Like any phone, if the voltage dropped the phone shut down. So what they did instead is reduce the maximum draw in order to maintain the necessary voltage. It made the phones more useful, not less, despite what you'll read in these comments.

  • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Wednesday February 07, 2018 @06:11AM (#56082321) Homepage Journal

    "Maximum capacity of battery if we'd made the phone 1mm thicker and weren't trying to make it the size of a credit card".

  • ... to sell a device into which a battery has been glued.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.