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Apple iOS 10.2.1 release admits to serious problems

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Written by Kamil Arli

Tech Columnist Gordon Kelly published an article on the Apple iOS 10.2.1 that release admits to serious problems

 It has taken three months, two software updates, warnings from the Chinese government, over 100 pages of customer nagging and numerous articles by publications around the globe since I exclusively broke the story in November but Apple AAPL +0.10% has at last confessed. In a statement today the company finally admitted to the so-called 30% Bug, but that is only half the story…

HAVING TRIED TO GET A STATEMENT OUT OF APPLE FOR MONTHS WITHOUT SUCCESS

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Having tried to get a statement out of Apple for months without success, it suddenly made a confession to TechCrunch. The company stated not only did it know iPhone 6S and iPhone 6 models have been shutting down at random for some time but that it also hid a fix into iOS 10.2.1 which it believes mostly fixes the problem.

Apple iOS 10 claims to have partially fixed one of its most infamous bugs, but it that enough? Image credit: Apple

Apple iOS 10 claims to have partially fixed one of its most infamous bugs, but it that enough? Image credit: Apple

“We’re seeing a more than 80% reduction in iPhone 6s and over 70% reduction on iPhone 6 of devices unexpectedly shutting down. We also added the ability for the phone to restart without needing to connect to power, if a user still encounters an unexpected shutdown,” the company stated.

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APPLE GAVE NO FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT WHETHER FURTHER FIXES WOULD BE INTRODUCED

Apple gave no further information about whether further fixes would be introduced in future to fix the problem for users still suffering after installing iOS 10.2.1. With iOS 10.3 in advanced testing, we will just have to keep our fingers crossed. (note the 30% Bug is a different issue to the iPhone 6S shutdown issues the company addressed with a limited recall program last year)

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So is this the end for the infamous 30% Bug? I’m sorry to say no, it isn’t even close and here’s why…

We Only Got Half The Story

As it stands a lot of pieces to the 30% Bug puzzle are still missing. Let’s break them down:

  1. The Missing Models

Apple fesses up to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6, but the fact is the iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 5S and iPhone 5 are all affected by the 30% Bug as well. Where is the confirmation about this and are fixes for them being worked upon?

Even former Apple executive Tony ‘Father of the iPod’ Fadell tweeted his iPhone 6S Plus was affected by the 30% Bug back in November:

Ex-Apple senior executive Tony Fadell confirms the 30% Bug affects his iPhone. He later confirmed his model is an iPhone 6S Plus. Image credit: Twitter

Ex-Apple senior executive Tony Fadell confirms the 30% Bug affects his iPhone. He later confirmed his model is an iPhone 6S Plus. Image credit: Twitter

  1. Confusion From Customers Apple Is Charging For New Batteries 

If Apple is now admitting the 30% Bug is a software problem, then confusion remains about why many customers affected by the 30% Bug have been charged for replacement batteries.

iPhone owners affected by the 30% Bug have repeatedly reported being charged for new batteries, despite Apple subsequently confirming it is a software problem. Image credit: Apple Support Communities

iPhone owners affected by the 30% Bug have repeatedly reported being charged for new batteries, despite Apple subsequently confirming it is a software problem. Image credit: Apple Support Communities

Apple has published a new battery care guide and said a “your battery needs service” message will soon come to the battery info screen in iOS 10.2.1, but this is only for iPhones where the battery is completely worn out. That’s a very different problem to the 30% Bug. More clarity is needed here about what entitlements affected customers can receive and, in light of Apple’s statement, whether some are due refunds.

  1. How Widespread Is This, Really?

I can’t remember Apple ever confessing to a problem without describing it as only affecting “a small number of users” but what are the parameters for this? After all if five models of affected iPhone are excluded, we certainly don’t have the full picture yet.

As a personal anecdote, I’ve never been contacted so frequently about a problem in my 17 years as a technology journalist as I have about the 30% Bug. Fellow Forbes contributor Anthony Karcz also expressed to me that he has received extraordinarily high levels of contact from affected users as well.

iOS 10.2.1 Creates New Problems

It is also worth pointing out that while Apple is now pushing users to upgrade to iOS 10.2.1 now it has revealed the partial 30% Bug cure hidden inside it, the reality is the release also introduces a lot of new problems.

  • A bizarre bug lowers screen brightness at 74% and 49% is affecting every supported model other than the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,)
  • It is breaking Touch ID fingerprint recognition for many (sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – video)
  • It is causing Bluetooth connectivity and stability problems (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  • There are also reports of high battery drain (sources 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), sound performance issues and degraded WiFi.

On the flipside iOS 10.2.1 does contain an important security fix that should not be taken lightly.

As such, while I’m pleased to see Apple finally admitted some liability for the 30% Bug and made some progress in fixing it, we remain far from a full confession and a 100% effective solution. Given that affected users have suffered with this problem for months, I think this is the very least they deserve…

Note: Apple has been contacted about all these issues and I will update this article when/if the company responds.

About the author

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Kamil Arli

Editor of DigitalReview.co. Digital Media Consultant

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