Apple has recently made bold claims about respecting the environment across business decisions. ♻️ And it seems to be making strides in many areas, like using recycled materials in products and clean energy in many aspects of its operations. 🎉
That’s why a deviation from this posture at last month’s event stood out: Only iPhone 15 models benefit from a new feature that is designed to protect batteries, despite the feature likely being possible on earlier models. The new feature is: iPhone 15 (and 15 Pro) owners can limit their phones to not charge past 80%.1 That may not appeal to everyone, but doing so, according to Apple, reduces “the wear on your battery and improve[s] its lifespan by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged”. 🌎 👍
Wait, how can we assume that the feature is possible on earlier models? -> Well, iPhones dating back at least to the iPhone 8 era already support a very similar “charge to 80%” option called Optimized Charging.2 The difference is that Optimized Charging works by limiting your phone’s charging to 80% when your iPhone is normally idle (typically in the middle of the night).3 The new 80% charging feature (that’s limited to iPhone 15 models) doesn’t try to be as smart, and simply applies the limit all day long. (I asked Apple to comment on why this feature is not also available in previous models 4 and will update this story if they respond.) Presumably there’s nothing preventing Apple from pushing a software update to enable this new feature in older iPhones.
If batteries last longer that means less waste and healthier devices for those who want to make this trade off. This feature is driven by customer demand; there was even speculation that it shipped as an “apparent response to the battery longevity complaints that have proliferated around last year’s iPhone 14 models”. Comments across several articles and reddit threads openly wonder why only iPhone 15 models get the feature. (After posting this article, I started listening to one of my favorite podcasts ATP, and John Siracusa also wondered out loud why this is limited to iPhone 15 as well.) Meanwhile, Samsung phones’ similar Battery Protect feature works for models going back multiple years.5
It’s one thing when feature-gating is for animated backgrounds in the Weather app or features that are hardware constrained, but when it’s for something that can clearly reduce waste globally and protect customers’ devices, they should make an exception.
So for Earth’s-sake, please take the easy win and enable this for more phones, Apple.
There is very lively discussion on Reddit, where it’s trending at #1 both on r/ios and r/apple. There are a bunch of worthy suggestions there on how to improve the feature even more, but one thing’s clear: iPhone users would love to see this come to more devices.
- Technically, the phone will still occasionally charge to 100% to re-calibrate battery percentage readings. ↩︎
- Actually, the first quote, “reducing the wear on your battery and improve[s] its lifespan by reducing the time your iPhone spends fully charged” was Apple’s description of the benefits of Optimized Charging. ↩︎
- Apple’s description of the old Optimized Charging feature is: “To reduce battery aging, iPhone learns from daily charging routine so it can wait to finish charging pas 80% until you need to use it.” ↩︎
- Devices that don’t get the new optimized charging feature include the iPhone 14 Pro, which features the same SoC as the iPhone 15. ↩︎
- “Protect battery feature can be found on most Galaxy smartphones that run One UI version 4.0 and Android 12 or higher”, both of which released in 2021. Link ↩︎