Ignorance is Bliss: Apple, stop telling us facts

by Uluroo — 1 April 2018

All things die. Including smartphones. Uluroo is sorry to start the article on such a depressing note, but it's true. Your smartphone, your beloved smartphone, will die one day. How does this information affect you? Are you annoyed you didn't find out before, or do you wish to live in ignorance, blindly continuing to enjoy your emotional bond with your smartphone? Or both? Are you mad that you even have to make a decision between knowing and not knowing?

Uluroo assures you that you are not alone. If you have both of the above reactions — wanting and not wanting to know about your phone's state of health — you're a lot like Mashable's Damon Beres:

"Apple's new 'Battery Health' feature actually sucks"

For the uninitiated, Battery Health is an iOS feature that allows users to see the current charge capacity of their iPhone as a percentage of its original capacity and to see whether a degraded battery is affecting the iPhone's performance. This feature is a direct response to the backlash over the revelation that some older iPhones' processors slow down during peak performance loads to prevent the devices from shutting down.

Speaking of the iPhone slowdowns, let's see what Damon Beres was saying about this back in December of 2017:

This fix here is actually fairly simple: Apple needs to become less secretive in its updates, and it needs to make simple repairs far easier for consumers.

Well, he seems to have, um, revised his opinion a little:

Though I'm certainly against secret iPhone throttling and generally in favor of information that helps consumers make good choices, this new battery indicator seems destined to result in two things: anxiety and iPhone-related purchases.

Beres used the Battery Health feature and saw the percentage by which his iPhone's battery capacity had dropped.

My iPhone isn't even two years old, and it's already dying.

That's the upshot of Apple's new "Battery Health" feature, introduced in iOS 11.3 Thursday. Though the device assures me it's operating at "peak performance," it also indicates that the battery can only hold 93 percent of the charge it once did.

The device pictured in the article is an iPhone 7 Plus, so Uluroo is right in the same boat as Beres (albeit with an iPhone 7). The iPhone 7 is about a year and a half old. Apple claims that the iPhone should last for 500 complete charge cycles — about two years of regular use — before degrading to 80% of its original capacity. Uluroo's iPhone battery is currently at 90% of its original capacity after a year and a half; that's 5% more than expected. Beres's iPhone is doing even better.

So what's Beres's complaint about? Well, it's certainly not that his iPhone only holds 93% of its original charge.

It makes me extremely aware that my iPhone will eventually tick down to uselessness, and, yikes, it kind of makes me want to buy a new battery.

There are a couple of things wrong with this. First, it was Beres's choice to look at the Battery Health feature. That's on him. Previously users had no control whatsoever over throttling or the ability to see their battery's state of health. This is an improvement, and to suggest otherwise is to blame Apple for your personal problems.

Second, a new battery currently costs $29. This is very cheap compared to $999 for an iPhone X, or whatever the conspiracy theorists were saying Apple was scamming out of its customers. So not only do you not really need a new battery due to your iPhone's above-expected charge capacity, you also had the choice to see said capacity and are not being coerced into spending exorbitant amounts of money. This is exactly what you asked for: more information.

... if Apple was serious about making this information useful to consumers, it would make devices that were easier to repair when things go wrong. When my battery capacity hits 50 percent, say, it would be nice to buy a battery from a third-party source (they retail for about $25) and slide that sucker in without completing a minor feat of techno-surgery.

Nice though that may be, who's liable when a repaired-by-third-party iPhone explodes? Won't an easy-repair iPhone be thicker and overall less appealing? If you want easy repairs, don't buy Apple. If you want well-designed products that you can't repair and that tradeoff is worth it to you, Apple is for you. But there are plenty of other choices that allow you to do DIY repairs if you so please.

Thanks, but no thanks.

That sentence very accurately represents Beres's hypocrisy in this piece. Does he or does he not think it's good to know one's iPhone's battery capacity? Based on his original reaction to iPhone performance throttling, it seems like Beres would say yes. But now, um, that's not the case. It's up to consumers whether they want to know more about their iPhones' batteries. Let's not pretend our choices are Apple's problem.