Apple and the iPhone are always in the news, but lately, it seems like it’s been for all the wrong reasons. Over the past week or so, many stories have painted the iPhone as a security risk and Apple as sneakily throttling charging speeds. None of those things are happening. Here’s the truth:
iOS 16 isn’t slowing down charging speeds
Apple introduced a new feature in iOS 16.1 called Clean Energy Charging that seeks to limit the impact of your iPhone on the environment by “selectively charging when lower carbon-emission electricity is available.” This feature has been enabled by default on all iOS 16 iPhones since October but a few people just noticed it last week and made a bunch of noise about it on Twitter. People lost their minds, calling the feature “presumptuous and irritating,” and loudly complained about Apple’s “ESG [environmental, social, and governance] bull 💩.”
Two things are wrong with the outrage. For one, the feature shouldn’t affect your iPhone’s charging habits. I’ve left Clean Energy Charging on and have never had a problem with my phone having less of a charge than expected. When I put it on the charger at night, it’s filled in the morning, and when I need a quick fill-up during the day, it takes just minutes. And since Clean Energy Charging doesn’t affect charging on the go, you’ll never be left in the lurch.
Secondly, you can turn it off very easily. Just because some people didn’t know about an optional feature doesn’t mean they can get upset upon learning it exists—especially if they don’t actually understand what it is. Apple turns Clean Energy Charging on by default because it’s the kind of feature that should benefit everyone and upset no one, but apparently, that’s not the case.
Your iPhone isn’t a sudden theft risk
The Wall Street Journal ran an article in late February about a “new” trend: a thief befriends someone at a bar, watches them long enough to see them type in their iPhone passcode, memorizes the code, steals the iPhone, changes the Apple ID password, and steals personal data and in some cases, financial accounts.
It’s an alarming story for sure, but it’s not a new one. Most of the cases the Journal cites are from 2022 and the theft rings they write about have been operating for years. But that didn’t stop countless other publications from throwing around the “H” word and reporting on the story with headlines like “iPhone passcode scam! Attackers can steal your money this way,” “This nasty iPhone passcode scam could cost you thousands of dollars,” and “iPhone users issued urgent warning as thieves use ‘reset’ trick on smartphones and Apple is helpless once it’s happened.”
It all sounds very scary and serious, but it’s still extremely rare. If anything, the story highlights how secure the iPhone actually is, since the crimes describe a sophisticated ring of thieves, even if the crime itself is decidedly low-tech. Maybe Apple should stop using your passcode as the security method for changing your Apple ID password, but otherwise, there are plenty of strong protections built into the iPhone.
There isn’t a Face ID flaw
As if the fear and loathing about stolen iPhones wasn’t enough, a whole other set of articles used The Wall Street Journal report to expose supposed holes in Face ID, including WRDW (“Face I.D. might not be as secure as you think”), Local 3 News in Tennessee (“How thieves can steal your money using iPhone’s Face ID feature”) and even the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crime, which advised iPhone users to disable Face ID when going out “to protect your phone and data.”
Is it possible for someone to steal your phone and “scan your face without your consent and when you are not aware” as one story reported? Sure. Is it likely to happen? Not in the slightest. Could the thief then set up an Alternate Face ID so they can get back into the phone whenever they want? Sure. Is it likely to happen? Not in the slightest.
There’s nothing wrong with Face ID. It’s the best biometric authenticator on a smartphone and no other phone comes close. Despite trying for years to replicate the TrueDepth camera and scanning, the top Android phones are still using fingerprint sensors because Face ID is so advanced. So the next time you go out with your iPhone in your pocket, the last thing you have to worry about is Face ID.