Apple has admitted it deliberately slows older iPhones when users upgrade to new versions of iOS in a bid to prolong the life of handsets with ageing batteries.
It’s often believed that Apple deliberately throttles performance on older iOS devices in order to encourage people to upgrade to Cupertino’s latest iPhones and iPads.
Recently, Geekbench developer and founder of benchmarking firm Primate Labs John Poole discovered that the slowdown is due to the age of the Lithium-ion battery packs found in older iPhones.
Mapping out the performance of an iPhone 6S and iPhone 7 over time, Poole found that iOS 10.21 and iOS 11.2.0 introduced processor throttling in a bid to prevent older devices with deteriorating batteries from shutting down when the CPU is demanding peak power.
So it appears that the performance throttling is to prevent iPhone processors from pulling more power than a battery pack can handle and therefore crash the phone or degrade its lifespan further. This would fly in the face of claims that Apple has built-in obsolescence with its iOS devices.
On Reddit a handful of iPhone users noted that when they replace their phone’s battery they see performance return to normal.
The chemical nature of Lithium-ion batteries means that over time they degrade and and suffer oxidisation that not only reduces their power capacity but also the maximum current they can supply a processor with. As such, both Android and Apple phones suffer from such battery life and performance issues as smartphone or tablet gets older.
And now, Apple has pretty much confirmed its processor throttling practices and the reasons behind them.
“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,” the company said in a statement.
“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.”
This would seem to be a sensible move, but the lack of transparency from Apple has been a issue.
By not making it clear to users why the throttling has been happening or when exactly it is occurring on their devices paves the way for speculations about deliberate obsolescence and feeds conspiracy theories, as well as simply not being clear with their customers.
This will likely change now that the issues has been made clear, which will likely be welcomed by anyone who’s dropped £999 on a new iPhone X.
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