Hey Dave! A couple of my friends are saying that a charging mode on the Apple iPhone’s latest iOS release is “woke” and “virtue charging”. What the heck are they talking about and what’s this latest iPhone feature?
Let’s start with some basic concepts.
First off, not every source of energy is equal in terms of its environmental cost. Some have more impact due to greater or more noxious emissions, while others require scarcer resources. Further, as every EV car owner knows, the cost of power is partially based on demand; electric vehicles typically defer charging overnight until electricity is at its lowest cost. [learn more]
It’s reasonable to observe that environmental cost isn’t the only factor to be considered when it comes to charging a car or a phone. If you’re running out of power at lunchtime, the last thing you want is for your device to refuse to charge until 3:30am when the power’s least expensive.
This brings us to Apple Corporation. For many years, the company has been experimenting with various charge features to both minimize the cost of drawing power from the grid and maximize battery life.
Apple also has an unfortunate track record of implementing changes without notifying customers. A few years ago the hullabaloo was about iPhones slowing down charges to eke more life out of older batteries. Apple explained what was going on, but people didn’t really care. Apple finally admitted it was in the wrong.
CLEAN ENERGY CHARGING
This then brings us to the latest addition to the iPhone, as enabled for everyone who updates their iPhone to iOS 16.1. Located in Settings > Battery > Battery Health & Charging, “Clean Energy Charging” is described by Apple as:
“In your region, iPhone will try to reduce your carbon footprint by selectively charging when lower carbon emission electricity is available.”
Does that mean that your phone will refuse to charge when that “lower carbon emission electricity” is not available? No, it doesn’t. As Apple further explains; “iPhone learns from your daily charging routine so it can reach full charge before you need to use it.”
In other words, even enabled, it’s likely to only (and invisibly) affect your daily charging routine, likely an overnight charge. Should you care if your phone charges at 3am instead of 11pm if it’s still at 100% when you’re ready to grab it and head off to work or school? No.
In fact, there’s no reason not to leave this new feature enabled, even if it’s realistically but a tiny drop of benefit in an ocean of power demands. If you plug in your phone mid-afternoon for a quick boost, it’ll still accept as much power as you can feed it. Even with Clean Energy Charging enabled.
As usual, however, Apple has glossed over the fact that we iPhone owners like to actually have control over our devices and be asked if we want to enable new features, even if they’re completely benign.
Now, you tell me, are you going to leave it enabled or disable it because it’s “woke” or really just “virtue charging”?
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about the Apple iPhone since day one, when the iPhone 1 was released. Please check out my quite extensive iPhone help area for hundreds of useful tutorials and tips!