All smartphone batteries degrade over time so it is not unusual for Apple to be slowing down the performance of its older phones to help prolong their battery life, according to experts. Apple says the objective here is to ensure that the iPhone does not shut down unexpectedly when the battery gets depleted completely.
It's easy to run with the idea that this is Apple intentionally slowing down older iPhones in an effort to push more users to upgrade to the latest iPhone every year. "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 Geekbench's John Poole.
In a follow-up post, he added: "The reputation damage from secretly slowing down old iPhones, regardless of the reason, will likely linger for a decade". It's possible Apple provided the change to ensure similar shutdown problems don't occur on the iPhone 7.
While Apple may be suggesting that it's degrading the processing power of its phones so that they last longer, there's no simple way to get out of that situation.
'Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices.
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"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", Apple said. The feature has since been extended to the iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2 and will be coming to other products in the future.
Essentially, Apple is saying that when a battery is in a poor condition, it may not be able to supply the required maximum current demanded by the phone's processor at full speed. Apple's fix appears to be throttling the CPU to prevent the phone from randomly shutting down. Nikkei just came out with an analysis of what the iPhone's 10th anniversary means for the Asian technology companies, and has made several infographics that showcase what a Frankenstein monster the iPhone X is, for example, created by tens of different suppliers' parts. The company behind the processor benchmarking software GeekBench, Primate Labs released charts based on their data which showed the drop in performance of older iPhones.
So yes, Apple is reducing performance on some iPhones, but not because they're old; it's because their battery is worn out.
Users wondering about the status of their phone's battery can check with apps such as Battery Life by RBT Digital, or by visiting an Apple Store. Older batteries are incapable of handling the phone's operation with the same effectiveness as an iPhone with a new battery. So even if Apple's reasoning is accurate, the company looks suspicious by not being upfront and transparent about this particular feature.