A new report has emerged which sheds further light on whether or not Apple intentionally slow down older iPhones via software updates.
Updated: 21/12/2017 – Apple has now confirmed this to be true!
The report suggest that the tech giant knowingly slow down the speed of processors in older models of iPhones, especially those with worn batteries – making the overall speed of the device slower.
Many users have reported their older model iPhones getting slower, especially after updating or when a new model is released. Primate Labs collated data collected via their Geekbench program that is run on 1000’s of iPhones.
The results showed that devices like the iPhone 6S running iOS 10.2 ran around the expected performance level, about what is expected from the iPhone 6S without any troubles.
But when the software was updated to iOS 10.2.1 the data showed the phones started to deteriorate in performance over four intervals. The same results were found when iOS 11.2 was installed.
Primate Labs said “The distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.0 appears unimodal with a peak around the average score. However, the distribution of iPhone 6S scores for iOS 10.2.1 appears multimodal, with one large peak around the average and several smaller peaks around lower scores. Under iOS 11.2.0 the effect is even more pronounced.”
iPhone 7 Also Affected
And the iPhone 7 hasn’t been immune from remote downgrades either as results showed a similar pattern for the 2016 handset. From iOS 11.2, the iPhone 7 has been shown to deteriorate in performance similar to the iPhone 6S.
“The distribution of iPhone 7 scores under iOS 10.2.0, iOS 10.2.1, and iOS 11.1.2 appears identical. However, the distribution changes with iOS 11.2.0 and starts to look like the iPhone 6S distribution from 10.2.1,” wrote Primate Labs.
Some Reddit users have cited the performance issues as a result of degrading batteries saying that as a smartphone ages, so does the battery inside. Modern Lithium batteries are designed to last around 500 charge cycles, which works out to roughly two years of typical usage.
However, that is a very conservative estimate as phones with smaller capacity batteries obviously need charging more than those will larger batteries.
There’s two parts to battery deterioration, first the maximum capacity is reduced due to degradation of certain chemical components inside the battery’s cells. The oxidation created also causes the maximum current available to reduce causing the battery to become less efficient.
This means two things. First, you’ll have to charge your phone more and more and secondly, the phone may not be able to operate at top performance, as dictated by the current and amount of power available being reduced. The processor and other components all start vying for the power available and invariably end up struggling.
Apple has accepted some fault here and in November the company did start replacing some batteries in iPhone 6S models that were suddenly shutting off when the battery level reached about 40% and later issued a software fix as part of iOS 10.2.1.
Poole wrote: “The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.”
Reddit users have mentioned that replacing older batteries helps alleviate the performance degradation, restoring the iPhone to its original speed.
Developer TeckFire said: “I did a Geekbench score [on an iPhone 6S], and found I was getting 1466 Single and 2512 Multi. This did not change whether I had low power mode on or off. After changing my battery, I did another test to check if it was just a placebo. Nope. 2526 Single and 4456 Multi.”
iPhone 7 owners have also been reporting similar issues as of iOS 11.2 causing some to insinuate that Apple purposely reduces the performance of older phones in order to prompt the user into upgrading and the findings from Reddit Users and the guys at Primate Labs to go a ways to confirming this, although it is still just speculation.