back to article Most munificent Apple killed itself with kindness. Oh. Really?

Apple’s iPhone slump may be down to the company’s generosity and kindness - according to Apple-friendly blogger Jon Gruber. Citing CEO Tim Cook’s remarks at an internal all hands meeting, Gruber posted that the company had replaced 10 times more iPhone batteries than it expected to: some 11 million. Normally it would have …

  1. Jeyell

    Apple has brought "sticker shock" from car showrooms into..what is it 'groves' or teletubby land. Its the price stoopid.

  2. Gideon 1

    The Register missed the point, which is that battery replacements will only be for failing batteries which would otherwise have necessitated an upgrade.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Erm, no. The point is that assuming the worst-plausible situation, battery replacement doesn't even come close to explaining the actual revenue numbers.

      Thus, it cannot possibly be the cause.

      1. SuccessCase

        "Erm, no. The point is that assuming the worst-plausible situation, battery replacement doesn't even come close to explaining the actual revenue numbers."

        So it's good that Tim Cook didn't actually claim battery replacement explains all the discrepancy. He indicated it was a contributory factor; which it was. Cook said the bulk of the revenue decrease was China and that globally excluding China, revenues were up. Plus Andrew has divided out the quarters accounting for lost revenue evenly, when the reality is the reported on Christmas quarter has a much higher percentage of unit shipments. So there's that also. Someone should rework the figures taking this into account.

        While the reasoning in this story may be a bit crap, Andrew has missed what I think is the more significant implication. Tim Cook, by pushing battery replacements as a reason for lost revenue, has effectively confirmed Apple know battery degradation is a big contributor to their bottom line through encouraging upgrades. I don't happen to believe Apple were deliberately trying to force upgrades with their battery management code so much as do what they said, manage sudden shutdowns, (I say this because as an iOS developer I was tricking the arc of this functionality and it was indeed implemented as a reaction to complaints about shutdowns in cold weather - this is a real performance degradation problem for pretty much all battery technology) but this goes a long way to justify that argument. At minimum now increased upgrade rates were a demonstrably known result and at minimum a "happy" side effect. By the measure Cook tried to assuage the analysts he also demonstrated battery degradation has been making a clearly measurable impact on Apple's bottom line - not a good message for the customer.

        So actually Reg, as you usually like to criticise Apple, you should actually have been arguing the other way - yes it did indeed have a big effect!

        1. big_D Silver badge

          I think you missed that this was a comment piece of the comment piece by Gruber.

      2. Arctic fox
        Headmaster

        @Richard 12 RE: "Thus, it cannot possibly be the cause."

        Which in turn would suggest that the CEO of a company quoted on the exchanges in the US made a misleading statement regarding his companies finances. If it were regarded to be willfully misleading might not the SEC in the States be interested? I could certainly see aggrieved shareholders reaching for their learned friends if it could be argued that the statement was knowingly false.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Some would have resulted in upgrades

      Others would have resulted in battery replacements at the original more expensive price, or a cheaper price for third party replacement at a mall kiosk. Some would have resulted in customers continuing to use a phone that didn't work as well as it used to, which leads to a bad experience which leads to bad word of mouth and possibly a switch to Android. Would it be worth it if they got half those 11 million to buy this fall, but a million others switched to Android? In the short run sure, but in the long run definitely not.

      IMHO the lesson Apple should take here is to offer a lower tier version of Applecare for phones over two years old that replaces the battery if it gets worn, or replaces the phone for other problems but does NOT cover the screen. Replacing the battery is a cheap way to keep customers happy, replacing the whole phone in the unlikely event something else goes wrong on the logic board or whatever is pretty cheap to do for the small percentage of customers who would need it because Apple has a continuous supply of older phones available when they get traded in by people buying newer ones (I've traded in to Apple a 5 for a 6S plus and a 6S plus for an X)

      While there's a short term loss in sales of new phones from people who are happy with their older phone and continue using it, it is a net gain in the long run. It makes iPhones more valuable the longer people can expect them to live. Couple that with the now 6 year (at least) OS update support life of the 5S and the installed base will continue to grow which will help services revenue continue to grow (especially as they add more available services like the rumored streaming offering and the "applecare lite" I suggested above)

      Consider that iPhone unit sales peaked in 2015(!) but since then the installed base has grown by double digits. Apple's long term value proposition will mean that even as sales of new smartphones fall for everyone, due to market saturation and longer replacement cycles, that Apple continues to increase their share of actively used phones. All those old phones that get traded in help establish Apple's presence in countries like India where their sales of new phones is minuscule - the used/refurbished market is the "low end" entry point to the Apple ecosystem. As they move up the economic ladder some will eventually be able to buy new iPhones (especially once Apple starts making them there and avoids the huge import tariffs that make their already high prices really high.

  3. J. R. Hartley

    Look it's really quite simple.

    There's just no need to upgrade any more, and people are becoming wise to it. I bought a top of the range i7 PC about 5 years ago, and apart from fitting an SSD and reinstalling Win7 last year, I won't be spending money on a PC ever again, until that one is pining for the fjords at least. If I didn't keep cracking my phone screen all the time I'd still be on my Galaxy S7 too. The Note 9 does nothing more than the S7 does.

    We've reached peak something.

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      Win7 is out of security update support next year so you might want to upgrade your OS.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        Various distributions of linux have LTS options if you don't want to have to upgrade very often.

        Then dump your existing Win7 install into a VM for anything that desperately needs MS... Just don't connect it to a network.

      2. J. R. Hartley

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        Nah

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        Win7 is out of security update support next year so you might want to upgrade your OS.

        It depends on how/where you use the PC.

        I still have an old XP netbook kicking around home, that's not seen a security patch for 10 years I reckon. It connects to the Internet for Spotify, but generally just acts as an audio source into my hifi. By my estimation it doesn't suffer for having an unsupported OS.

        Take everything on a case-by-case basis, but I sometimes wonder about the way people get really anxious like the second an OS drops out of mainstream support it will instantly start to get infected.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Look it's really quite simple.

          "I sometimes wonder about the way people get really anxious like the second an OS drops out of mainstream support"

          It's because of marketing. OS and some software vendors really need you to keep updating, and they're very quick to jump on "security" as the stick to beat you into doing it.

          Note: I'm not saying that the argument is invalid, I'm saying that it's greatly exaggerated. Also, it's not really that hard to run an outdated OS or other software in a way that is about as secure as if you're up to date. It just requires a bit of care and attention (which people should be engaging in anyway).

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Look it's really quite simple.

            It isn't "marketing". If nothing else, history has shown Microsoft security issues can be exploited on a pretty widespread basis even when people are updating pretty often. Falling a few months behind is probably not an issue, but continuing to use Windows 7 two years later in 2022 would not be a smart move.

            We haven't seen such a truly widespread attack on phones, but it is probably only a matter of time. Especially since Android source code is public, it is pretty easy for bad guys to identify security issues that were patched and know that there is a nearly unlimited number of potential targets that don't have and never will have an update containing that patch. Open source's "many eyes" go both ways - because security bugs become shallow too it relies on everyone keeping up on the latest patching and not having "orphan" devices that are left behind but remain in use.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Look it's really quite simple.

              "continuing to use Windows 7 two years later in 2022 would not be a smart move."

              Without taking additional precautions, I agree. My point, though, is that you can take additional precautions so that you aren't relying solely on the OS for your security. Further, I argue that everyone should be doing that anyway, even with fully up-to-date software.

              The marketing angle that I was referring to is the use of scare tactics to compel people into using software that companies want you to use rather than taking other measures. I'm not arguing that no measures should be taken.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @JohnFen Re: Look it's really quite simple.

                Exactly.

                I consider my unpatched XP netbook to be safe enough as it does very limited things from behind a NAT-ed router. If I had it connected directly to the Internet and was using it for general web browsing to all and sundry websites then that would be madness and I'd deserve everything I got.

                However, the same thing could be said of the same use case using a totally patched version of the latest OS.

                1. Hans 1 Silver badge
                  Linux

                  Re: @JohnFen Look it's really quite simple.

                  The real question is not why do you use an outdated OS, it is more why do you use XP merely to do spotify ? runs perfectly well on Linux and bonus, you get an updatable OS ... one day spotify will update its API and then spotify for Windows XP will cease to work ... will happen sooner or later, you never know ...

                  1. Ragarath

                    Re: @JohnFen Look it's really quite simple.

                    WOW, linux users have resorted to FUD!

                    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
                      Coffee/keyboard

                      Re: @JohnFen Look it's really quite simple.

                      Please, please, please, I am a FreeBSD and OpenBSD user, so please don't insult me ... ;-)

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @JohnFen Look it's really quite simple.

                    The real question is not why do you use an outdated OS, it is more why do you use XP merely to do spotify ?

                    Because I have machine with XP already running on it and it does the job perfectly well. I don't see the value in spending time setting up a new OS to do the same job that I can do with existing kit.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: I don't see the value in spending time setting up a new box

                      "I have machine with XP already running on it and it does the job perfectly well. I don't see the value in spending time setting up a new OS to do the same job that I can do with existing kit."

                      People like you are going to be the death of the PC industry one day.

                      Thank you :) It can't come soon enough.

      4. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        The things we use PCs for evolve, but not in a linear fashion. Two decades ago my PC was fit for for purpose, Doom, Office and light Photoshop. Then the promise of more advanced 3D games and tasks like video editing would spur a desire for upgrades. I currently have no urgent need to upgrade my Core 2 Duo laptop, nor my Galaxy S8. Tasks will evolve though.

        In a couple of years time my phone will be able to accurately 3D scan rooms and objects ( laser based time of flight sensors), and I'll likely want more more RAM and cores in my laptop to work with the data. That's just me though. What tasks will drive the next mainstream adoption of new technology? I don't know. If I did I would be chasing funding with an NDA : )

        GPS used to be military, then was used in rescue, agriculture and logistics by professionals. Then it became the backbone of cobsumer services such as Uber and fitness apps.

      5. georgezilla

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        So my choice will then be between an unsupported OS and a broken OS?

        That's some kind of choice.

        So I guess that I'll choose .....

        NUMBER 3!!!

        A different OS.

        Wait ...

        I don't use Windows!

        Never mind.

        * opensuse Leap 15

    2. Oh Matron!

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      My Mum's 13" MacBook Pro 2008 is still going great guns (well, once I'd swapped out the HDD for an SSD), and my 15" MacBook Pro 2012 is still getting software updates. You can't blame Apple for making fantastic products.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        My Mum's 13" MacBook Pro 2008 is still going great guns

        On the other hand, my wife's 2008 Mac mini (Intel Core Duo, not Core 2) can't go beyond OS10.6 and while expanding the RAM to 2GB and swapping the HDD for an SSD helped, it hasn't had an update in aeons (Wikipedia says 10.6's last update was 2011) and "modern" versions of the likes of Firefox won't install. Safari is so old, some websites put up a warning banner!

        My 2008 EeePC (Intel Atom N270), also upgraded to 2GB, was in retirement for a bit but has recently been dragged from its slumber and is evaluating current 32 bit Linuxes (a dwindling band, but they are still out there). I'm trying Kanotix for a bit, but I think KDE might be slowing things down somewhat. Antix and MX are also on the list to try. I used to run Puppy, but am finding the myriad variations confusing.

        Apple stuff is generally well-built and can be made to last. The question is, for how long. 2008 - 2011 isn't a decently long lifespan in my opinion, though I know other things have had longer support. The machine is still mechanically and electrically sound (other than the CD player).

        M.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Look it's really quite simple.

          Apple stuff is generally well-built and can be made to last.

          Louis Rossmann, who makes a living repairing Apple products, thinks otherwise:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUaJ8pDlxi8

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Look it's really quite simple.

            I'd say that they used to be well-made and built to last, but aren't anymore.

            A company can ride the wave of its historical performance for quite a few years, but eventually people do notice. Usually the company does not survive this.

      2. georgezilla

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        " ... You can't blame Apple for making fantastic products. ... "

        You can if you disagree with the "fantastic" part.

        And I do disagree with it.

    3. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      "We've reached peak something"

      We'll know if its also Peak Apple in September when we find out if they've learned anything at all.

      1. confused and dazed

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        The signs aren't good so far ....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      "We've reached peak something."

      With all the ISS coverage a couple of years back then I felt we definitely reached peak peak(e).

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: Look it's really quite simple.

        With all the ISS coverage a couple of years back then I felt we definitely reached peak peak(e).

        I concur. Actually I found the whole thing rather irksome at one point...peak Peake pique

        1. Bill Gray
          Coat

          Re: Look it's really quite simple.

          I only gave that topic a quick glance, and even that was enough to be irksome... peak Peake peek pique.

        2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Re: Look it's really quite simple.

          > I concur. Actually I found the whole thing rather irksome at one point...peak Peake pique

          Yep. Even my dog hated it: peke peak Peake pique

    5. livin' thing
      Mushroom

      "There's just no need to upgrade any more"

      I read this once with disbelief, twice with outrage, and a third time with blind rage. How anyone can advise people not to upgrade an Apple iPhone is beyond me. What sort of an evil, uncaring savage are you? What if children are reading this? This is just like that Gillette ad I haven't watched and yet have a strong opinion about. That's man-hating too.

    6. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      Sorry but gel capacitors say you will.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Look it's really quite simple.

      Ditto. My just replaced laptop was a 2010 model, so my computer replacements are already at 8+ years. My phone is an S8+, and I really cant see replacing it until it dies.

      What we have reached is this: current computers and phones are sufficient, even for a "power user". Barring any stunning advancements, there is no need to upgrade. In fact, there have been no stunning advancements in phones or computers in the past couple three or so years. Let me repeat with emphasis: THERE HAVE BEEN NO "MUST HAVE" ADVANCEMENTS IN EITHER PERSONAL COMPUTERS OR SMARTPHONES IN OVER THREE YEARS.

      That says it all.

  4. m0rt Silver badge

    "avoid unexpected showdowns."

    I hate that.

    Nothing worse when you are minding your own business and some gunslinger challenges you to a gunfight.

    Seriously pisses me right off.

    1. Joe Gurman

      Re: "avoid unexpected showdowns."

      Particularly Black Bart, who hails from Autocorrect, TN.

  5. Andy 97

    It begs the question, when do users feel that they've had (insert retail price) worth of use out of their device?

    I only continue to get my 6s re-batteried or re-screened because I'm a tight git and Apple's had enough of my money for one lifetime. Also, Android doesn't do iMessage. I'll only replace it if I drop it in the loo or it gets nicked by some hoodlum.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      It shouldn't necessarily be a case of "I've had my money's-worth s out with the old in with the new". If a product still works, or can be made to continue to work by replacing a degraded part, then that's better than consigning a load of serviceable chips, etc. to recycling or landfill.

      Repair, re-use,recycle...with 'repair' being the preferred course of action

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Repair, re-use, recycle

        Fitter, happier, more productive

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        > Repair, re-use,recycle...with 'repair' being the preferred course of action

        And I'd argue that 'prevent' [damage] is even more preferable :)

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re:'prevent' [damage]

          it does alway amuse me how people go out and buy the slimmest phone/tablet possible and then have to carry it around in something akin to the packaging it came in to keep it working.

      3. MisterHappy

        Re-Use where possible

        My venerable iPhone 4 is used as a semi-permanent audiobook player in my car (can only update using iTunes as the Audible app won't work on such an old iOS) & my even more ancient iPhone 3G is the MP3 player in my wife's car. Both cars just use an aux connection.

        My old Samsung S3 went to a relative to be one of his kid's "My first smartphone", the S5 replaced the mother-in-law's after she put hers thru the laundry & my S7 is sitting in a drawer waiting to leap into action if I break/lose my current phone.

        So yes I upgrade, usually late but I have never thrown a phone away, although maybe there is no need to keep the HTC Windows mobile ones anymore.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Re-Use where possible

          I have one prospective son-in-law, he is still using an iPhone 4S, he is looking to upgrade it this year (student, so limited funds).

          1. Zolko

            Re: Re-Use where possible

            "I have one prospective son-in-law..."

            so, how does that make his prospects ? Does it earn him points with his prospective father-in-law ? Looks like a nice chap to me.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: Re-Use where possible

              I have no input in the decision, that lays wholly by my daughter.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > I'll only replace it if I drop it in the loo

      You can buy a pseudo-Magsafe plug for your Lightning socket. This would close a major point of water ingress into your phone, increasing its chance of surviving an unscheduled dunking. As a bonus it would reduce mechanical wear on your phone's sole means of charging.

      As regards this article, I bought my current phone with the intention of not replacing it for a few years. So I bought an over-specc'ed model that is waterproof (Galaxy S8) and I keep it in a strong case with a glass screen protector. Even if its charging port fails I can fall back on wireless charging. The broad implications of older models still being for for purpose apply to Samsung et al as much as it does to Apple.

      1. Andy 97

        Re-lightening plug.

        I wasn't aware of this (thanks), I just think that if it gets dunked in the bog, I'd be unhappy to fish it out and use it again considering someone else has parked their breakfast in the same receptacle.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          Re: Re-lightening plug.

          Aren't keyboards already dirtier than toilets? In case faced with the expense of a new phone or a bottle of Dettol I know which I would go with.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Re-lightening plug.

            You're better off using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to sterilise your handset, rather than Dettol. Methylated spirits are fine too, but it smells. Don't use acetone.

            1. Tom 7 Silver badge

              Re: Re-lightening plug.

              And dont use a good scotch. It just makes your hear ache to finish working,

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Yeah, my Hauwei was a little overkill, spec wise, replacing a dog-slow Nexus 5x. The nice thing with that is, that Hauwei deliver it with a factory fitted screen protector and a silicon bumper case in the box.

        1. magickmark
          Trollface

          My tuppence worth

          And (allegedly) factory fitted spyware sending your data right back to china.gov central

          1. big_D Silver badge

            Re: My tuppence worth

            As opposed to factiry Google spyware sending data right back to Google in the USA?

            Not sure your hypothesis is worse, but at least it is only hypothetical.

            1. Is It Me
              Meh

              Re: My tuppence worth

              I would have thought that it still has the Google spyware too.

              I am saying this as someone on their 4th Google Android device (1 tablet and 3 phones from the Nexus/Pixel line ups). The only disappointment I have had was how quickly they stopped supporting the original nexus 7 tablet, and I think that was mostly down to it being under specified (a mistake in it's own right).

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: My tuppence worth

                Yes, they are still full of Google bloatware. Everything apart from Play Store is deactivated and doesn't run. But what low-level stuff is still running, I'm not sure.

                (E.g. GMail, Youtube, PlayMusic/Video/Games, Maps, Assistant, Duo, Chrome etc. are all disabled.) For example, I use DuckDuckGo for search and Firefox or Brave for browsing. A lot of the Hauwei services are also disabled.

        2. defiler Silver badge

          Lucky you. My Huawei is on its second screen, and the third is in the post. And I don't much care about a cracked screen unless it stops me operating the thing. (Shard of glass in my fingertip was unpleasant, though.)

          This time I did it a good one at New Year. Still, cheaper to replace the screen in that than the wife's S8 that she's just dropped too!

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            I don't know how big your wife's hands are, but my S8 in a Spigen Tough Armour case is at the limits of weight and width that I'd care to hold in my medium-large size man hands. When I take the phone out I'm amazed by how svelte it is! A glass screen protector, on the other hand, adds next to nothing to the phones bulk.

            Tip: if her S8's screen is less sensitive after fitting a glass screen protector, try Settings > Display > Navigation Bar and disable Unlock With Home Button. It's either that or disabling Hard Press Home Button that helped me. It might be Samsung fixed it in a software update though, because there's options to adjust Hard Press pressure that can't remember seeing before.

            1. defiler Silver badge

              She's had a rubbery "bumper" cover on it since new, and dropped it on occasion. This time, though, it landed on the curved edge of the screen. That's it - new screen time.

              Pricey as hell to change, though, so she's running her old S6 just now. Just like I'm running my Note 3 until my new screen arrives.

              We'll have a look at screens once I've done mine and she's confident enough to let me near it!

    3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      New Stuff

      Andy97 - good point and it made me think. I use an iPhone SE and I've got 2 spare SEs and 2 spare 6's. I'll buy a new phone (of any kind, although moving out of Apple would be a pain) when the ones I've got are no longer fit for purpose or someone comes up with a new phone that does something I want which my current phone doesn't do. Things I don't want? Bigger phone, thinner phone, phone without headphone socket, better screen resolution, more screen colours, better camera, more than one camera, wrap round screen, ability to pay for things by tapping, face recognition unlock .....to name just a few.

      Things I would be interested in? Longer battery life, more rugged device, better security, small enough to fit in shirt pocket, removeable storage, removeable battery, USB connectivity, ..... to name just a few.

      From a marketing point of view I'm not core demographic for Apple because all I really want is a telephone, music player, PDA, email and occasional internet. But from a "how much money is the idiot willing to pay for stuff" I am a target and they're not going to get their hands on my hard-earned unless they offer me something that I value.

      The risk for me is that Apple realize that the people with money aren't just going to buy new stuff because it's new as long as the old stuff just keeps working. As a result they might just start making the old stuff obsolete through SW upgrades.

      (Typed on a mid-2012 MBA that's still good enough for my needs)

      1. Andy 97

        Re: New Stuff

        Damn right!

        In all honestly, your core requirements are identical to (I'd suggest) a majority of the goons on here.

        When you're (like me) over 45, a swanky phone offers little in the way of additional benefits. We can spend the money we save on ill-fitting jeans and football season tickets.

      2. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: New Stuff

        > Things I would be interested in? Longer battery life, more rugged device, better security, small enough to fit in shirt pocket, removeable storage, removeable battery, USB connectivity, ..... to name just a few.

        Not all of these are compatible, longer battery life plus smaller form factor? That means less functionality.

        I agree with the sentiment, though.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: New Stuff

          @jetset - re-onger battery life plus smaller form factor: that's not what I meant. They could add 1cm (or more) to the thickness of the iPhone SE and it would still fit in my buttoned denim jacket pocket. Plenty of room for loads more battery and a memory card.

        2. georgezilla

          Re: New Stuff

          Headphone jack!

          Got to have my headphone jack. Period.

    4. scaley

      Interesting but my daughters friends have a mixture of phone os's therefore they have decided to use whatsapp (as well as Instagram and the rest of it) so not tied to imessage as so many iphone users are

    5. juice Bronze badge

      Depends...

      If we're just talking mobile devices (i.e. PDAs, mobile phones), traditionally, I tended to buy a replacement about once every 12 months, as Moore's Law kept bumping up the specs and lowering the prices.

      However, Moore's Law has now peaked, even for mobile devices.

      I kept my last phone (Samsung S7) for two years, and the LG V30 which replaced it has been going strong for around a year. I /might/ upgrade to the Samsung S10 later this year /if/ the camera upgrades look worth it, but if not, then I'll probably hang onto it for another year or two.

      1. Duffy Moon

        Re: Depends...

        "I kept my last phone (Samsung S7) for two years, and the LG V30 which replaced it has been going strong for around a year"

        Funnily enough, I've just upgraded to an LG V30+ (which was an eBay bargain at £360 NIB) after my Samsungs S5 and S7 eventually died (S5 wouldn't boot and S7 display took about 30 power button presses to turn on). I'm very happy with it (especially the excellent DAC) and don't regret moving from Samsung. The only thing I miss is the replaceable battery, but the V30+ does last me the whole day - then I stick it on the wireless charger by my bed.

        1. Snake

          Re: Depends...

          Exact same here. I had no intention of updating from my LG Flex2 regardless of the fact that a single banking app (JPMorganChase) decided one night to simply shut down Android 5 support, but the Flex2 went into Bootloop of Death (solder joints). I, also, upgraded to a LG V30+ eBay deal/steal ($300/£233) and am extremely pleased, regardless of what the silly reviewers thought of it. The battery life for me is 1.5 days if I don't intentionally go out of my way to kill it by watching 5+ hours of video at a clip, the UI is closer to AOSP-clean than any Samsung dares to attempt, and the DAC is stupendous.

          Do all reviewers always believe that they are the exclusive taste makers of society?

          1. juice Bronze badge

            Re: Depends...

            Yeah - I've been more than happy with the V30.

            It's just on the edge of what I consider to be an acceptable size for a phone (esp. once a protective case has been added), but the battery life is decent, the performance is more than acceptable, the photo quality is measurably better than on the S7 and the video recording software is pretty good.

            The only real niggle I've had is that the FOV on the "standard" camera is narrower than on the S7, presumably to make the wide-angle lens look even wider by comparison. However, the upshot is that I often have to take a step further back or switch to the wide-angle lens to get the desired framing for a snap.

            Can't really comment about the DAC - I do most of my musical listening via headphones plugged into an iPod Classic - it's more convenient, it saves on phone battery life and - as much as I hate to admit it - iTunes has so far proven to be the least-worst of all possible options when it comes to the way I handle my musical collection.

            (That, and Android music players don't generally support "rating" tunes, which makes it a lot harder to curate my playlists...)

            But yeah: good camera(s), good battery life, a headphone socket, a micro-sd reader, a highly rated DAC and 64GB of internal storage. The V30 was value for money when I bought it for £600 from CW a year ago; it's now an absolute steal, especially second hand...

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      "when do users feel that they've had (insert retail price) worth of use out of their device?"

      I don't know. All I do know is how I think of these sorts of things, and I never think "I've got the value I paid for now, so it's time to upgrade!" Instead, I think "this device doesn't work anymore, time to replace it" or "this device can't do what I need, time to get a better one". Those are really the only two things that will spur me to replace equipment.

      Also, unless the price is unreasonable (as the current "flagship" phones are, in my opinion), the monetary expense isn't the friction to upgrading. It's that upgrading is itself a disruptive pain in the ass, and I'll only do it if it's a greater pain in the ass not to.

      1. georgezilla

        " ... when do users feel that they've had (insert retail price) worth of use out of their device? ... "

        When the damn thing will no longer turn on ( new battery doesn't work ).

        THEN I've got my moneys worth. And only then.

  6. N2 Silver badge

    Battery

    Needs to be replaceable in the field by anyone, end ex.

    Zero environmental credentials to those that are'nt.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Battery

      In the field? A battery will start showing signs of diminished capacity weeks or months before it is useless, so there's every chance to replace the battery at a workbench. If you're not near a desk for months then you shouldn't be using consumer kit, or be dependant on a single device.

      Having field swappable batteries is fine, but it inherently adds a lot of bulk - the spare battery needs a rigid, puncture proof casing when not in use, because, as even a novice observer of human nature can note, some idiot will inevitably leave it in a kit bag with screw drivers or on the dashboard of a hot car.

      The best solution is the Moto Mod one - extra battery capacity can be snapped on, reducing charge cycles on the built in battery. As a bonus, the bolt on batteries can be swapped without power-cycling the phone.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Battery

        "Having field swappable batteries is fine, but it inherently adds a lot of bulk"

        This isn't true, as demonstrated by my Galaxy S4. The battery is simple to replace (no tools needed), but the phone itself is only marginally thicker than modern thin phones.

        1. georgezilla

          Re: Battery

          My Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime's battery can be easily be replaced. Anywhere. And only tool needed is a fingernail to open the back of the case.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Battery

      If I had my way, I would require every device with a battery -- whether it is a phone or laptop or tablet or whatever -- to include instructions on how the user can change the battery. This would, of course, require a battery that is easy to change. (I'm looking at you, Samsung.) I would also make it illegal to block third party batteries that otherwise fit for purpose.

      1. N2 Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Battery

        "If I had my way, I would require every device with a battery -- whether it is a phone or laptop or tablet or whatever -- to include instructions on how the user can change the battery. This would, of course, require a battery that is easy to change. (I'm looking at you, Samsung.) I would also make it illegal to block third party batteries that otherwise fit for purpose."

        Echos my thoughts entirely & anyone thinking otherwise deserves to be put to the sword...

        Pint, its nearly Friday.

      2. juice Bronze badge

        Re: Battery

        "If I had my way, I would require every device with a battery -- whether it is a phone or laptop or tablet or whatever -- to include instructions on how the user can change the battery"

        While I'm in general agreement with this rule, I would note that this could cause havoc with waterproofing (and/or increase the size and weight of devices). A better rule - if somewhat more open to abuse and harder to enforce - would be that all companies have to provide a facility to replace batteries for a given period, and that they can only charge costs.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Battery

          "would be that all companies have to provide a facility to replace batteries for a given period, and that they can only charge costs."

          I don't think that's a better rule at all. At best, it's a compromise.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Why the analysts are right (this time)

    Cooks excuses and apologies remind me of the car industry when it has got stuff wrong: looks of obfuscation but no details on how to change things. Of course, the first indication was the decision (in the previous quarter) to no longer release a breakdown of handset sales.

    Once a company starts trying to hide the bad news, and that is what this is, you should expect worse to come. Some of this may be down to the perverse incentives that stock options provide: the pressure to keep profits or the shareprice up in 2018 could be as much to blame as anything else. That said, I think Apple is both smarter and better placed than other companies have been in similar situations. It has a very loyal base and an undoubtedly skilled workforce. It may have done fuck all innovation since Jobs died but it has still managed to do solid product development.

  8. knarf

    Why upgrade?

    My iphone 7 I've had for 3 years works perfectly well. I'll keep it until its dies or becomes unfixable.

    would love a real headphone socket thou...

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Why upgrade?

      Agreed. All the upgrades these days are just incidental improvements to OS and styling really. The hardware boosts are like making your car go 201MPH instead of 195MPH--unless you have eagle eyes or are into hardcore gaming on a tiny screen, most people don't notice them.

      I'm still using my old Galaxy S5 and will probably keep doing so until something goes wrong with it or I get sick of its comparative slowness. The camera's still good, the SD card slot and replaceable battery keep it relevant. (and the IR emitter comes in handy too)

    2. bazbt3

      Re: Why upgrade?

      I had the battery in my iPhone 6 replaced and the charging connector repaired a couple of weeks ago, after the thing completely refused to charge. Local retailer*, £35 total; I'm thus not one of the users in the 11M mentioned. (I'd been using a battery case so not really noticed much degradation of life.)

      *The phone'd only been in the toilet once, and I got the repair done within a couple of hours instead of queuing up at an Apple store.

  9. Wade Burchette

    Apple also makes phones that are more durable than rivals

    Um ... that statement is wrong.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgv7aktFErA

  10. Yorick

    I’m one of those iPhone users with an iPhone 6s. Much to the consternation of my Android-using spouse, I intend to keep this thing until 2020 or longer, depending on what the 2020 lineup looks like. He is convinced that using a phone for 5 years is madness; I am convinced that we reached good enough smartphone 3 to 4 years ago. Using a phone while security fixes are still current is more than reasonable.

    This also makes me a very loyal Apple user. The cost of the phone gets spread over 5 years, and compared to a 3 year Android cycle (*), that compares quite favorably.

    (*) Cycle determined by a personal quirk: I really care about security patches. Running a device that doesn’t receive those any more would create actual stress. I am aware how small the risk is for phones, and there it is nonetheless. I want a device that receives security updates immediately, and will replace it when it no longer does. Hence 3 years Android, and 5 (plus? 5s now on year 6) years Apple.

    1. Jay 2

      Me too. My 6S was the first new handset I purchased (the rest have been hand-me-downs from brother, 2nd hand from fleaBay or work devices). My days of wanting the latest tech shiny are not what they were and as far as I'm concerned my 6S does everything I want it to. So no point in upgrading. And even then I really don't like how the iPhone has evolved. No 3.5mm jack and a move from fingerprint scanning to facial recognition do not fill me with joy.

      On subject when I saw that Apple were offering a new battery (all kosher with warranty etc) for £25 I jumped at the chance. The previous battery was still OK, but a slight bit of preventive maintenance never hurts.

      So this will delay me in purchasing a new iPhone, but if Apple/industry/analysts/shareholders think I'm going to buy a new device ever year "because", they are sadly mistaken. For all Apple's problems, "innovations", lack of upgradability/fixing and dumbing-down, they do generally tend to make kit that not only physically lasts, but is supported too.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rock and a hard place

    Whilst historically it has certainly been true that Apple devices were more durable and better supported, Android has matured considerably, Google has started to take more control of software updates, and the build quality of any well chosen Android is easily a match for Apple (and usually less fragile, although Sammy seem to be missing on that one). Whether the better resale values of Apple devices hold up we'll see, but looking at the behaviour of the company, I can't see that they'll fail to react to the "loss" of revenue caused by selfish non-upgraders. They've been caught out on the battery throttling, I'd assume that they'll look to make sure that future IoS releases are somehow much slower or incompatible with older handsets ( a trick which has worked well for many Android makers).

    What we're seeing is the convergence and commoditisation of handsets, and most Android makers are felling the pressure too. Under that dullard Cook, Apple seem unable to innovate their way out of this bind, and we're looking at managed decline. I suspect that the widely rumoured move to USB C will be another blow to the proposition of the unique walled garden.

    The only one thing that I can think of that could save Apple would be a new battery technology that offers much greater capacity (so a week between charging for typical users), and where Apple own the technology and Android makers can't use it. With such a leap forward in the ownership experience, they'd get away with battery life of two years, and charging a serious amount to replace it. OTOH this is unicorn technology, and its battery chemistry, so not clear how Apple could find and own the technology.

    A more achievable alternative would be to take the handset leasing out of the hands of networks, and offer most, maybe all of the Apple ecosystem, including a phone with a two year refresh on a continuing subscription basis. Stop selling retail iPhones for cash, just offer one monthly price for everything, and capture all the revenue bleeding to Netflix, Spotify, network operators etc. Family discount would avoid breaking the typical loyal household market. Improve the ability to cast content, major on privacy, improve the ebook experience, and look to squeeze Google and Amazon. Then offer a much improved iPhone for business experience, attacking head on the issues of security, IT policy and device management, Exchange integration, and besides the B2B customers, use that division to sell handsets to retail customers who just want a phone and don't want the "full fat" proposition. All of this is high risk, on the other hand potentially high reward. It is also achievable with Apple's technical and commercial skills - and bottomless pocket. Sadly Cook is not an innovator nor a risk taker.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Rock and a hard place

      @Ledswinger - you almost got an upvote until you mentioned leasing (i relented and gave you the vote anyway).

      If I'd got my first iPhone 3s on a lease deal I'd now be carrying round a massive iphone 8 with no headphone socket, no lightning connector and loads of other innovations that I don't want.

      Also, once locked even harder into the Apple (or Google) garden the company loses much of the need for genuine innovation because people can't be arsed to switch.

      Apple made a massive leap when it invented the iPhone, then it made another one with the MacBook Air and Apple and the markets are expecting the same profits today but on the back of incremental, not fundamental, innovation. In reality all any of the phone companies are doing is going down the Gillette route and producing the biannual equivalent of the (n+1) bladed razor and dressing it up as the next big thing; there certainly seems to be a version of Moore's law for how many cameras a phone will have.

      I have a SW engineer friend who worked at Nokia new product development when the iPhone first came out. The iPhone was unforeseen, unexpected, unbelievable and terrifying. The whole organization recognized immediately that this was the new world and phone he was working on was canned virtually overnight. That's what the next thing will look like - not an extra camera or a missing button or wireless something or other.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Rock and a hard place

      Have to disagree, particularly on the point of this article which is battery life.

      I had 2 flagship Androids (Nexus 5, HTC M8) both virtually unusable after 1 year due to poor battery life. The Nexus in particular was shocking.

      I actually think Apple was targetted for actually giving a little bit of a damn about user battery life, whilst Google and the rest of the Android eco system got off scott free. They should have equally been held to account.

      Nowaday's I just buy mid range Android and expect the battery life to die around the year mark.

      The fundamental tech industry problem is everything has Plateau'd, from UI tech like touch, to usable compute density. Apple are more exposed to this than most of their competitors because they are big in all device categories wether PC, Phone and something in between.

      Cook's failure as a CEO has been to green light massive price rises for Tech . (FaceId, TouchBar) that deliver completely marginal UX improvements.

      I am typing this on my work 15" 6-core MBP, that for most of my user activity is fundamentally worse than my 2013 11" MBA. The battery runs out quicker, its bulkier, and the software is less reliable. (Some of this is that i didnt control the spec'ing process for my work MBP)

      As Andrew has noted recently Apple is heading for a perfect storm of high prices and weakening engagement from some of their core market segments and they will need those core segments when a lot of their fanboi's change to the latest disrupter

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Rock and a hard place

      Good post…

      Under that dullard Cook,

      Credit where credit's due: he's probably done a darn sight better since he took over than either you or I. Not only has optimised margins, he also made the switch to larger screen sizes, etc. OK, this was an acknowledgement that they were no longer leading the market. But sill impressive to do as well as they have done while depending almost entirely on their suppliers for new stuff.

      A more achievable alternative would be to take the handset leasing out of the hands of networks

      I think this is probably a non-starter because in many countries they might not be allowed to do it: in Europe exclusive I-Phone deals were annulled. Might be possible in America but it would effectively mean setting up a bank: Apple Capital. Would that be like GM and GE Capital? But would probably work until someone lobs a class action about being able to resell their handset. Or whatever the lawyers can dream up.

      But, at the end of the day, if they don't reclaim the highground of innovation then not even builtin obsolescence will save them because functional equivalence will see more people replacing an expensive I-Phone with a good enough Android as long as it does WhatsApp, Fortnite, Netflix, or whatever they feel they can't live without. Leaves I-Tunes to lock people in. In other words, a very big bet on the upcoming streaming video service.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rock and a hard place

        Under that dullard Cook,...Credit where credit's due: he's probably done a darn sight better since he took over than either you or I.

        I doubt it - your posts reveal you to be very well informed and have wide insight and understanding of the technology and the market. On my part, I work in business strategy, so I tend to start most roles from the position of "we are or soon will be in the sh1t, how do we get back out?" Commoditisation and slowing innovation of smartphones has been obvious for years, and you and I have both known and discussed that simply jacking up prices isn't a sustainable strategy.

        In terms of the things Cook is good at (logistics, manufacturing, supply chain) were you or I running Apple, the obvious thing is simply to hire those skills in (like Jobs did) - being really, really good at such things is rare, but not THAT rare, and on the basis of the evidence, not sufficiently critical to make the supply chain guy the CEO. Following Samsung on screen size only counts as an innovation because this was Apple, and his predecessor hadn't already done that.

        I'm not, and doubt you are the sort of visionary, brutal, zealot of the calibre of Jobs or Musk, so as Apple CEO we'd not be restoring it to its innovative former glories, but I think we'd have done better than Cook. In my line of work, I've met and otherwise worked with a whole range of business leaders and directors, and the one thing I'd say is that most of them are of considerably ordinary abilities attached to inflated egos, who don't in any way justify their vast salaries. I suspect Apple's current management tick those boxes.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Rock and a hard place

          > Under that dullard Cook, Apple seem unable to innovate their way out of this bind,

          Ledswinger, I can only look at that in the context of nobody else doing anything massively innovative with phones at the moment. So, here's five *possible*, not mutually exclusive, conclusions: 1, Cook is a dullard as you say, 2, all the low hanging fruit of innovation has been taken, 3, what we thought was innovative at the time was merely inevitable, 4, Apple have some innovations in the pipeline but won't announce or release them til the tech is ready, 5, Apple's rivals have upped their product design game and so the bar of what seems innovative has been raised.

          I don't know. I do feel a tension between what Apple are capable of doing with their control of software, OS, silicon and hardware, and what they choose to do (or more often *not* do) for commercial reasons. As an example, Apple could have made the iPad a wired second screen and input device for Macs, or they could make an iWatch Lite with fewer features but great battery life.

  12. steviebuk Silver badge

    I'm sure...

    ...all they did was replace one shit battery with another shit battery on my other halves iPhone 6 (I think it was. I have little to no interest in Apple bar moaning about them). Hers was part of the recall batch. But the battery they replaced it with ended up, about a year later, suffering the same issue. Getting to 50% then turning off.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Resale value and durable?

    You can buy a couple of phones as good as Apple for difference from new to resale value. The higher resale value is because of Apple fans and the insane new price.

    Durable? Why the huge number of shops in the city selling Apple bumpers & covers and offering screen repairs?

    I've a phone as old as 4S. I've never fitted a rubber bumper. My current phone is 1st to have a cover mainly to keep the insane 6" screen clean and it was a bargain at €3.50. Later €25, so may have been a pricing error.

    I've never bought a "contract" phone as you are paying far more if you mostly use WiFi for data and only a few voice & SMS. Even if I did use Mobile Data I worked out that a contract with a "free" iPhone or top of the range Samsung isn't a free phone at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Resale value and durable?

      "I worked out that a contract with a "free" iPhone or top of the range Samsung isn't a free phone at all."

      Even Ofcon seem to have recently been told to pay attention to this too, especially after the phone has been paid for and yet the monthly contract price stays the same.

      https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/how-citizens-advice-works/media/press-releases/ofcom-consultation-on-mobile-handset-separation-has-potential-to-make-a-real-difference-to-consumers-says-citizens-advice/

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45652259

      "Mobile operators could soon be forced to reduce monthly bills for customers who have finished paying for their handset.

      The telecoms regulator Ofcom says around 1.5 million consumers continue to be charged the same monthly fee, even though they should only be paying for the actual calls.

      It said the practice was "unacceptable".

      It is now consulting on plans to cut charges, and improve transparency.

      One option would be to force operators to put customers on a cheaper tariff once the handset has been paid for."[continues]

      This almost reads like this s is the same scam that Pipex, inventors of mass market UK home broadband, used to kickstart the market. Once the installation and other up front costs were fully paid, the monthly cost didn't go down, but Pipex's profit on that contract went up. It's a shame to see the mobile phone companies still getting away with the same trick, two decades later, and Ofcon only now catching on to the concept]

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Resale value and durable?

      > Durable? Why the huge number of shops in the city selling Apple bumpers & covers and offering screen repairs?

      Because there are more units of any one iPhone model sold than there are units of any one Android handset. Highstreet shops usually just stock cases for iPhones and the more common (usually Samsung) Android phones. Another factor is that some Android brands are only available to buy online, so people who have bought a OnePlus phone most likely bought a OnePlus case at the same time from the OnePlus website.

      In any case, Apple screens are no tougher or weaker than those of any other phone using the same version of Gorilla Glass.

      Back in the days of iPhones having 3.5mm ports, the majority of Sennheiser headsets sold on the highstreet were for iOS (Android vendors treated the call control button differently between vendors, even between handset generations within a single vendor). This fact meant nothing about their durability.

  14. trev101

    I upgraded the battery but not the phone

    Last month I took advantage of Apple's battery upgrade for my 6s plus. This was showing as 83% capacity and the new battery boosted standby to 2 days. But the reason why I did that was because the new iPhones have taken away the audio jack and touch id. So why bother upgrading for in my opinion a poorer device. in

  15. Leedos

    My "new" Apple batttery needed replacing

    The replacement battery Apple provided me has already failed. I debated going back for a second battery replacement before the end of last year, but the first one took almost a month to get due to high demand. Going to the Apple store is rarely quick or easy. I ordered a 2225mAh replacement with tools from Amazon for $25 Works fine and the phone lasts all day again. The real bonus is that I didn't have to go to the Apple store.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: My "new" Apple batttery needed replacing

      At least you have the option of using the Apple centre. I'm planning on having Samsung replace my phone's screen due to some minor OLED burn-in. It'll take a couple of hours at a Samsung service centre, the one in the city closest to me is near some good pubs. I don't know what steps someone with a OnePlus would have to take to have the same issue fixed.

      In the city I'm thinking of, the Apple store is also near some good pubs, once you've escaped that God forsaken pedestrianised plaza.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely one of the differences between Cook and Jobs. The latter would have been going round screaming at people to get their act together whereas the former is out making illogical excuses.

  17. SNAFUology
    FAIL

    G4 Battery saga

    Little or nothing has ever been mentioned of the G4 (Panther) battery saga, that pushed you to stop using the adapter and purchase a new laptop or possibly a new battery, when you had stopped using the old one for about 22/23 days/reboots.

    After that time the G4 laptop would (after playing the MAC start up sound) require a reboot for every day after that date 5 reboots for 28 days(23 + 5)

    What happened is that your USB, Bluetooth and Sound outputs would be made unavailable until you rebooted & eventually completely wiped the operating system off the hard drive, inserted a battery let it charge a little and reinstalled the software fully. Any other variation failed. if the battery was not inserted in the laptop and it was still run on adapter for 22/23 days/reboots the same thing would start over again.

    Some people upgraded to the Apple Air when it came out, they are probably mindlessly acquiring Apple products whenever o a new one is released.

    I am glad Apple has a drop in profit - their hardware was good but their business practices were not so.

    I am not sure when these battery buttf*#ks started, was it when Bill Gates purchased 50% of the company ?? or was it just Steve Jobs, well who cares.

    Rotten Apples, due for the garbage.

  18. zekepliskin

    Wait, Apple makes more durable phones than the competition? When did that happen? Because the majority of people I know who own iPhones have either smashed their current or previous one with very little accidental effort at some point, whereas very rarely do I see a decimated Android phone...

  19. Creslin

    ReUse stuff, the bargains are abound with minor up-cycling

    Nothing to do with apple but for tech in general Im loving well made kit that lasts an eon now out of support.

    I've picked up two HP G7s, dual Xeon 6core/ 12thread and 76GB Ram for $250 each and an old 24port Gbit managed SMC switch for $30

    The IO is shocking, $10 PCIe NVIe adaptor and 256GB M.2 $50 each and they're shockingly good hosts.

    These are bargains but not uncommon, there's a huge market for old server kit, companies refreshing or moving to cloud feeding the market.

    These tubs are bullet proof; giving me 48 x 3Ghz threads, remote iLO access, perfect for dev / learning, thrown them in your garage.

    Ubuntu LTS, perfect fit.

    ... all for less than a today cost GFX card,, about the same power consumption too

  20. Dedobot

    I think Xiaomi and similar Chinese goverment backed conglomerates will execute the death sentence above apple handset biz and other hiend manufacturers.

    For the non-believers-just get in touch with an redmi 5 plus-180 usd,for example, and you will understand why.

    About spying - yes its real off course, everybody in position doing it,but that don't bother me- I'm not CEO of multi billion corp or politican.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019