Apple admits to slowing down older iPhones, and that is a problem

It started as a Reddit discussion about how a user’s iPhone 6S has been very slow of recent, then someone from Geekbench took it upon themselves to plot iPhone models performances, and found that iPhone performance indeed degraded over time. Was Apple slowing down older iPhones?

older iPhones

The Geekbench research concluded as follows:

I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.

Soon after that, Apple gave a statement to BusinessInsider, as follows:

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components.

“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6S and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.”

So, Apple has confirmed that they began to throttle the performance of older models from last year (2016), but as a means to keep the phones from shutting down.

Questions

But not everyone is buying that. Some of the questions being asked by iPhone users include:

  1. Why did Apple not announce this feature when it was introduced? Why keep it a secret?
  2. Why is there not an option for users to enable or disable this feature?
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There are arguments that leaving users unaware of this feature means that when an iPhone begins to slow down, the user naturally thinks they need to upgrade and buy a new iPhone, thus fuelling iPhone sales. In other words, Apple is using this to nudge its users to upgrade their phones.

Well, who does new iPhone purchases benefit? Apple. In reality, what the iPhone user needs is a new battery. But they do not know. So, they buy a new phone.

Apple may be telling the truth about why they throttle performance of older models, but it looks bad that they are admitting it after being caught at it. Not everyone will believe the official explanation. Sneaking stuff like this on users is in bad taste.

Sources: One. Two. Three.

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6 thoughts on “Apple admits to slowing down older iPhones, and that is a problem

  • December 21, 2017 at 9:15 am
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    One would have to be a blind bat of an iSheep to lap up this vomit of an explanation from Apple .

    Of course it is all about tricking the iSheeple to upgrade, otherwise, why is it not publicized that a degradation of the battery would cause processor throttling?

    I have always hated this Greedy and Evil company, and my hate has just gone up several notches (yeah, as if that makes a dent anywhere!)

  • December 21, 2017 at 5:19 pm
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    “In other words, Apple is using this to nudge its users to upgrade their phones.“

    I don’t buy this (no pun intended). Why? Even if Apple are slowing down older iPhones, those users aren’t in any hurry to upgrade unless they’re already out of contract or have money burning a hole in their pocket and want to keep up with their neighbour. The only people running to upgrade are the likes of someone I know who bought a new iPhone 7 months before the release of the newest iPhone and at the first sign of a battery problem was looking to buy the iPhone X.

    Most people with iPhones – especially knowing they are fragile, have, poor battery life etc – have learned to live with and accommodate these shortcomings. Which is why so many people are still using iPhones 4, 4S and 5.

  • December 22, 2017 at 4:43 am
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    I think this submission is as weak as the iToy Company’s explanation

    We know the more affluent buy iPhones.. When there is a slow down of a phone I adulate, as an affluent user, what do you imagine I would do?

    That’s right, upgrade. Let’s not use the term contract’ to muddle facts up.

    No; there aren’t ‘so many so many people still using iPhones 4, 4S and 5.’ (compared to those shelling not money for the newer models).

    • December 30, 2017 at 10:59 pm
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      I am still baffled as to why you are taking Panadol for someone else’s headache.

      I’ve seen people who aren’t affluent with iPhones but hey, what do I know? Uh yes, last time I checked I saw quite a number of people using old iPhones – if it ain’t broke etc. But then we probably exist in different worlds, again, what do I know?

      “When there is a slow down of a phone I adulate, as an affluent user, what do you imagine I would do?”

      Are we still talking Apple or Samsung phones? I honestly don’t know these people, but maybe I live a sheltered existence.

      Either way, my response to your scenario is the same as I told someone when they presented me with their paying-a-lot-of-money-for-a-Premium-but-slow-phone-thanks-to-Apple; stay in your lane. Don’t drive a Mercedes G Wagon when you only have Kia Picanto money. And don’t play the “I invested in apps on Apple” – Android is there. God will help you.

  • December 30, 2017 at 10:46 pm
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    I was listening to an interview with the founder of Primate Labs (the guys behind Geekbench) whose company had been testing speeds with different Apple operating systems. Interesting enough, he surmised that, as lithium ion batteries diminish over time, the iOS updates and subsequent slowing down came about because users complained of having like 35% battery life and then the phone shutting down – so basically erratic battery behaviour.

    To counter this, there was an upgrade from iOS 10.20 to 10.21 to deal with the battery life problem so as not to over-stress the battery, not to slow down the device and force users to buy newer iPhones. Basically if the battery life deteriorates past a certain point, the performance to the processor slows down. In his words “…it may be worth investing in a new battery rather than investing in an entirely new phone”.

    At best, Apple should have been more transparent about what they were doing and recommend that users replace their batteries if they didn’t want the performance of their device to slow down. The only good thing about this is that users will pay less for a battery replacement now than if they did this a year or more ago. It will be interesting to see what the class action suit consists of and what the ruling(s) will be.

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