Apple confirms it makes old iPhones run slower (for a good reason)

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Apple is investigating battery issues for the iPhone 6s.
Does your iPhone 6s feel slower?
Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Does your iPhone seem to get slower and slower as it grows older? Well, according to Apple, that is exactly what’s supposed to happen.

Many iPhone users have long suspected that Apple throttles performance of aging iPhones. The popular theory is that Apple does so to entice users to upgrade. However, Apple says there are really good performance reasons behind the practice.

A Reddit post over a week ago reignited the issue after an iPhone 6s user found that replacing his battery sped up his device. Geekbench scores later appeared to confirm the theory of Apple throttling iPhones with older batteries.

Throttling iPhone CPU speeds

Apple opened up to TechCrunch today, confirming that the company does indeed lower CPU performance on some iPhones. In its statement, Apple says it does so to prolong the life of your iPhone, not to weaken it.

“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.”

Everyone knows that batteries get weaker as they age, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Apple is trying to smooth out performance so it remains optimal throughout the battery’s life.

Apple is trying to make your iPhone work longer with fewer problems, rather than trying to get you to upgrade.

  • Chris Salinas

    They just proved they are as bad or worse than every devious corporation. Time to look at the new pixel

    • Daniel Hertlein

      I’ll still take a company that makes money selling me products over one in which I AM the product, aka Pixel and every other Android phone.

    • marketman101

      Oh, so you’re trading one devious corporation for another devious corporation. Want to really make a statement? Give them both up and go live in the woods on a communist commune.

      • Peter Hicks

        There is a lesson here just turn off system update I did on my 3 tablets guess what they all run great!

      • all the more reason to keep holding off iOS11, as long as I can live with the syncing issues that always pop up when I delay an iOS upgrade.

  • jerseylova

    I bought my iPhone 7 in January 2017, and after I installed ios11 my battery drains at an unbelievable rate. With normal use, I’m at 10% by 12-2PM everyday. Unreal!

  • Daniel Hertlein

    Good reason, but I’m not at all comfortable with the lack of transparency and not having a choice in the matter. If they released this feature as an option with full details about what it did and why along with a battery health app, I’d be 100% fine with it. The way they did it leaves their motives about whether they were trying to help owners of older devices hold onto their purchases or nudge them toward purchasing a new one.

    I’ll still take a company that makes money selling me products over one in which I AM the product, but this hasn’t been a great month.

  • Peter Hicks

    Even if you put a new battery in its still going to downclock, so an apple phone = 2years @ £9.61p a week = £1000 that does not sound like a good deal to me, my moto is 3 years old the battery still stays up and the phone is still as quick as the day I bought it and it cost 1 tenth of an iPhone but I’m not a productive!

  • Peter Hicks

    And VW sold diesel cars that were clean!

  • djrobsd

    And I’ve got some ice in Antarctica to sell to the eskimos. If anyone believes apples BS excuse they are truly brainwashed. Period. My iPhone 6 Plus worked perfectly and flawlessly for 3 years until iOS 11 came out.

  • Felix Lizarraga

    Well, of course! Thanks for clearing that out.

    Of course, I have this nice bridge in Brooklyn I’d like you to take a look at…

  • Javiersteva

    If you believe that …….
    Tim Cook has managed to make Steve Jobs roll over in his grave and make Apple the exact opposite of what it was ! A Money hungry and UNETHICAL corporation ! Just like Microsoft ! I replaced my 6s battery about 2 months before the last update and after I did it my phone slowed down dramatically so i reloaded all my apps and went through it all and still no improvement ! Thanks Apple now my next phone might be a Samsung.

  • Big tech. Always looking out for us. This is why they’re into social activism, social engineering, charity.

    Can you feel the love?

    • andrewi

      Don’t blame big tech, this is solely a flaw with Capitalism as a system vs Socialism vs Communism. In pure capitalist worlds, anything too valuable had to balance itself out in the long run or bankrupts it’s creators. In this case, Apple are struggling to continue growth in a world where many of it’s current users won’t upgrade because it’s older products are ‘good enough’. Apple is doing what it can to fight that just as it would any competition.

      If you look online, it’s quite hard to find an all metal mousetrap at china prices, and the wood ones at the bottom are made of balsa wood which is probably not much cheaper than iron. The reason you don’t find iron is the iron factory went out of business because everyone only wanted to buy from them once. The wood one survived because the balsa wood would eventually break and it would be replaced. It’s called ‘windowing’ in other industries ironically.

      • You’re either a fanboy or an AAPL shareholder. You do know they’re the biggest, most powerful company in the world, right?

  • Peter Hicks

    When they can downclock your phone with an update you have to be thinking what else are they doing?
    I would like to see the predictions for coming years sales figures and the share price ?

  • Peter Hicks

    Don’t trust any corporation’s all of my location options are turned off on my android and my country is put down as Afghanistan after I did a factory reset prior to putting the wifi on guess what they put the first half of my post code at bottom of the page when I was looking at things on the net, priceless!

  • Peter Hicks

    You only have to look what happened when Adam and eve were told not to take a bite out of the Apple they both got
    ?ed !

  • Farquar1000

    iPad? Did Apple do the same thing to older iPads? Obviously some of the older models can no longer update to current version of iOS. Did Apple throttle those older models to incentivize replacement purchases?

  • Soru Hito

    Why can’t Apple simply give customers options? I’m a mobile app developer for Win10, Android and iOS and Apple’s “won’t play well with others” company attitude has been so frustrating, I test my apps on my iPod 6 because I don’t like iOS’s limitations and I don’t want to buy an iPhone 8. The iPod I test on is so slow, I wouldn’t have a problem replacing the battery or the unit itself if battery was an issue, which it would be because of Apple’s low quality specs, some say “you get what you pay for” but with Apple you should be getting more, my 16GB iPod is equivalent to the Moto e (Moto e is better with the processor) and I would like to be able to use more of the already slow processor. I don’t understand the drastic slowness on the iPod 6 because there is no upgrades to it. I can’t figure out why anyone would even use iOS as a mobile OS at this point.