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iOS 12.1 adds battery management features to iPhone 8 & iPhone X

By Roger Fingas

Apple's latest iOS update brings battery management routines including throttling phones that have chemically depleted batteries to the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, though the company is optimistic most people won't notice any difference.

Any throttling "may be less noticeable" as a result of "more advanced hardware and software design," the company said in an updated support document. The company didn't specify what improvements it meant, but as iPhones have evolved they have gained faster processors with more cores and coprocessors.

Until the release of iOS 12.1, throttling was limited to phones ranging from the iPhone 6 through the iPhone 7 Plus. If temperature and battery performance falls out of optimal range, iOS can sometimes slow A-series processors to prevent sudden shutdowns, resulting in lower frame rates and app launch times.

The company ran into controversy last December when it admitted that it was deliberately throttling iPhones with weak batteries. The company apologized and offered discounted battery replacements -- a program ending on Dec. 31 this year -- but that wasn't enough to deter an assortment of lawsuits and government investigations. These often claimed erroneously that the company had engaged in planned obsolescence, making older iPhones work even slower than they otherwise would.

Recently Italy's antitrust regulator fined Apple 10 million euros, or about $11.4 million, for that very reason. The company wasn't alone however, as Samsung was issued a similar fine at the same time.

With the release of iOS 11.3 in March, Apple enabled more control over throttling and battery monitoring. If a sudden shutdown occurs though, throttling will be automatically re-enabled.

AppleInsider suggests that users with heavy use patterns, or poorly functioning batteries, get them replaced before the end of the year when the battery replacement goes back up.

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