apple slowing old iphone
Image: BGR

From many years there have been assumptions that Apple deliberately slows down older iPhone once the newer ones are released. In a detailed Reddit post submitted two weeks ago, many users noticed that Apple appears to be slowing down old iPhones that have low-capacity batteries.

John Poole, a Geekbench developer has done a great job by mapping out performances for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time. After his investigation, he came to the conclusion that Apple’s iOS 10.2.1 and 11.2.0 updates introduce throttling for different devices. Particularly iOS 10.2.1 that appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down.

Under the original Reddit post, some users said that after they replaced their iPhone batteries, the CPU performance restored and clock speeds went back to normal. What troubling aspect of this news is any such slowdowns might tempt iPhone owners to upgrade their entire device instead of only replacing the battery.

“This fix will also cause users to think, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace it’ not, ‘my phone is slow so I should replace its battery,’ …” says John Poole.

After The Verge reached out to Apple for comment, the company confirmed slowing down iPhones, but also came up with an explanation:

“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.”

What Apple is saying that it’s not slowing down devices to make people upgrade to newer devices, but to address an issue with devices containing older lithium-ion batteries. The older batteries are incapable of handling peak current draws, hence they are powering down the devices to prevent damage to its internal components.

Even though it all makes sense, and company’s explanation is probably good enough. But Apple isn’t doing itself many favors by not being honest, and it also shows a huge lack of communication between the company and consumers.