Apple Confirms iPhones Suffer Slower Performance After About One Year of Usage, Gives Explanation

Apple Confirms iPhones Suffer Slower Performance After About One Year of Usage, Gives Explanation

Apple has now confirmed long-existing rumors about purposely slowing down their customers’ iPhones, although they dispute it being a tactic to make consumers buy their newer models.

The Internet has been awash for years that iPhones conveniently slow in speed and become riddled with bugs whenever a new model is being released. These have remained nothing but rumors, until Apple seemingly confirmed it after being challenged by a tech expert. Geekbench Developer John Poole observed the performance of an iPhone 6s and 7 over time and concluded particular iOS updates reduce a phone’s speed. According to The Verge, iOS 10.2.1 drew significant attention in the experiment, as it was “designed to reduce random shutdown issues for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S,” but ends up reducing the phone’s processor speed.

There have been widespread reports that replacing your iPhone’s battery can significantly improve performance. The problem lies in that most users would tend to purchase an entirely new handset altogether, not realizing that a battery replacement could be a much cheaper solution.

When faced with the allegations, Apple responded:

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.

The response is Apple’s way of saying they’re not slowing down devices just to make customers purchase a new phone, but rather they are addressing the problems (such as unexpected shutdowns) caused by old lithium-ion batteries. Older batteries are incapable of handling the phone’s operation with the same effectiveness as an iPhone with a new battery. As such, they risk the device shutting down in order to prevent damage to its internal components. Ultimately, Apple is trying to avoid embarrassing malfunctions, although in not being transparent while doing so, they risk their customers losing trust in the brand.

It has to be said: replacing an iPhone battery is also no easy (or cheap) task. Alas, it’s a better alternative than forking out for an entirely new iPhone.

What do you make of this development?

Lead image credit: Torsten Dettlaff via Pexels

[via The Verge]

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38 Comments

Previous comments
Lee Christiansen's picture

Except that is not how old litium batteries behave when they're not at their best. I have a very old battery and a very new battery - both a similar capacity.

When using either with a lower wattage demand, each battery weill give a similar run time.

But when running with a higher wattage, the old battery will give up proportionaetly faster, or will simply be unable to deliver enough for the higher wattage item to function.

Think of it this way - my dad is old but if you ask him to walk at a steady slower pace, he can go for miles. But ask him to run and he'll fall over in a heartbeart.

Other battery chemistry types do behave in a simple "old = less run-time" formula. Lithium batteries, not quite so simple alas.

I have a feeling that Apple runs its phones a little too close to the limits in order to make thin phones with lots of processing power - which is what sells and what everyone craves. It would be better if they had a safety margin built into the performance so the issue wouldn't present, but then people would want faster / lighter / thinner, or at least Apple thinks this.

A better solution of course is to have removable batteries so the user can more easily maintain peak performance.

I don't agree with Apple's approach, but I think it is important to understand the mechanics of our favourite Lithium Ion batteries.

Michael Kormos's picture

There are different chemistries for lithium batteries. Some designed for maximum recharge cycles, others designed to maintain a charge. You cannot group “lithium batteries” under one umbrella term. http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion

Michael Kormos's picture

If this was about an older Tesla car models with rapidly degrading batteries, a slower vehicle performance would be welcome vs. a vehicle that randomly dies on the highway. Heck, Windows computers progressively get slower until you’re forced to format them (and yet, that’s considered normal). This was true 20 years ago, and it remains true today. So Apple tries to mitigate the issue and people are still not happy. Listen, you can install the latest Windows OS on a 5 year-old laptop, and believe me, it’ll run slower than the OS built for it at the time. So what’s the issue here? Would you rather have your old phone run, albeit st a slower pace, or no phone at all? The only ones out with pitchforks are class-action opportunists. I just hope they have the cash to go up to the most valuable company in the world.

Michael Kormos's picture

Sure, if the lawsuit wins and government rules, and Apple is prevented from slowing down older iPhone models, then you can expect older iPhone models to simply be excluded from running the latest iOS. Just like all major Windows releases carried minimum system requirements. So iPhones from 3+ years ago can forget about the latest iOS. Which, in turn, will prevent those people from running the latest versions of their favorite apps. Either way people will upgrade. And with this method, probably even more.

Chad D's picture

apple is not what it was sadly

Scott Mosley's picture

WooHOo free batteries for all iPhone 6&7 users!

Iain Lea's picture

For me it is simple. If apple have put a menu option to enable/disable this "feature" then thats ok. If not they are forcing an already purchased and belonging to the customer device to be performance degraded. Here in Europe its probably a suck it and see attitude or change vendors... in the US this would probably fall under a class action lawsuit?

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

I just love the fact that the author’s last line was a question and there’s not a single reply from him to any comment. I noticed this before with him too. He doesn’t seem to give a shit about it. Oh well.