Apple conspiracy theorists have long claimed that the tech giant was purposely (and perhaps maliciously) slowing down iPhones after they were about two-years old. A quick Google search will reveal thousands of complaints from users who say a new iOS version crippled their phone’s performance. Turns out, those people were right. Kind of.
After Geekbench did extensive benchmark testing on older iPhones, they discovered that the the CPU speeds actually do slow down compared to when they were first released. Interestingly enough, those CPU speeds go back up to normal when The Verge installed brand new batteries in the old devices.
With this new data revealed, Apple was forced to finally reveal the truth — but it’s probably not what you think.
Statement from Apple, via The Verge:
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.
According to Apple, the phones don’t suffer slower performance in a shady attempt to get consumers to buy a new model. Rather, the batteries slowly wear out and the CPU speed is programmed to drop accordingly in an effort to avoid random shutdowns and/or super fast draining battery capacity.
While that’s actually a really good reason, and a brilliant piece of engineering from Apple’s engineers designed to prolong battery life and keep iPhone hardware functioning, the last of transparency is the real frustrating thing. Most users who have to deal with a sluggish iPhone will assume that they need to buy a new one, since the batteries aren’t easily replaced. However, paying a professional (or Apple themselves, if they offered such a program) to install a new battery could extend the life of an iPhone 5S, 6, SE, or 6S for an extra year or two.
Now that the prices of brand new iPhone are creeping closer and closer to the $1000 mark, maybe the next time you’re considering an upgrade you should just try installing a new battery instead.