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Molnar: Cell Phone Slow Down

So it’s official: I’m not crazy. My iPhone has indeed lost its zip. It really is slow, sluggish, low energy. It’s unable to learn new things because its brain has reached its maximum storage capacity, resembling mine.

My phone, still in its toddlerhood, is already past its prime, and suffering from premature aging.

But now I know that the disease is not a result of my ignorance. That it’s been purposely slowed down by its manufacturer, along with millions of others of similar vintage.

It was done by Apple without telling us, the owners. We learned about it because some savvy users who, instead of blaming their own incompetence, began questioning their phones’ slowness. At which point, Apple was forced to acknowledge its actions.

But according to the company, it was done for our benefit, as a thoughtful service to us loyal customers. Certainly not - as some have accused - to induce us to trade up to new models!

Apple explained that as the batteries degrade, they cause the phone to shut down unexpectedly. By slowing everything down, we can go on using our aging devices, albeit at possible cost to our sanity.

A solution was available. For some seventy nine dollars we could have had a new battery installed, bringing the phone back up to speed and delaying the costly trade-up for maybe a couple of years. But who knew, since Apple didn’t bother to tell us – even though the company could have sent us a message, on our very phones, letting us know that the slowdown was not in our heads and informing us of this reasonable option.

To make up for this lack of transparency, I thought Apple should at least replace everyone’s battery at no charge – never mind compensating for the pain and suffering caused to those of us who already feel challenged by our devices, which often make us question our ongoing ability to cope with a rapidly changing world.

But after a couple of weeks of public outcry, Apple has now decided to offer new batteries at a reduced price. So I’ll go ahead and buy one, and hope to use the phone until Apple decides to mess around with it yet again - for my benefit, of course.

And then I’ll buy a new phone – not saying what kind, though.

Martha L. Molnar is a public relations and freelance writer who moved to Vermont in 2008. She was formerly a New York Times reporter.
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